I am hoping someone can clarify this for me, because I don’t quite understand this.  It seems that the T-Mobile Touch Pro 2 release hasn’t been nerly as aggresive as all the efforts that went into the myTouch 3G release.  You should just see the mytouch 3G Unboxing.

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So it is the eve of your company launcing a phone that has been highly sought after for the last 6-12 months and you are the first company who will launch it in the United States and possibly have an exclusive for a few weeks.  The device might be the most powerful Pocket PC on the market and your first 3G Power Business user phone.  Your company still hasn’t released a lot of official information.  On your website’s home page you have your featured pictures set to the mytouch 3G, Samsung Highlight/Comeback, Sidekick LX and a Motorola W490.  Bloggers and media outlets are confirming and speculating 5 different price points for your product.  Supposed confidentail internal memos and documents circulate the internet with varying information regarding pricing.  Something doesnt quite make marketing sense to me.  I know T-Mobile is not alone in having this approach that other carriers play. 

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Here are a few thoughts that I have.  T-Mobile was rather organized with their launch of the myTouch 3G.  They announced in advance when there pre-ordering dates will be and even provided pricing.  They conducted their pre order period in an orderly fashion and had their release.  They kept control of the information.  It is clear they know how to do it right.  Building a stong marketing campaign ahead of time in conjuction with the manufacturer could go along ways in building more demand especially when you might have a situation where you have an exclusive for a short period of time.  Even the iPhone gave definitive informatin in the weeks leading into their launch.  Needless to say a lot of people out there like me who have been following the device for the last few months  sound exhausted and finally ready to just buy the phone and move on.   Below you will find an Unboxing of the T-Mobile Touch Pro 2 from Phone Dog.  You can also go to CNET for their offical review by Bonnie Cha. 

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It always seems that a couple of times each week I am in a situation where I am running out of battery power.  Between Google Maps, Skyfire, and SlingPlayer Mobile I frequently run out of juice.  If only my back pack or travel bag that I carry with me everyday could function as a charger. Well today I was happy to learn from Afrigadget.com that one will be available soon.  It will be called the FLAP Bag.  FLAP stands for Flexible Light And Power.
Afrigadget will be distributing solar powered bags that function as a light and a charger.  The solar panel will be on the flap of the bag, and wil have a USB extension and a LED light.  You can see the unboxing video below.   The bags will be distributed in Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya as a trial project (FLAP Bag Project).  You can follow the progress of this project at afrigadget.com or on twitter @whiteafrican.

The FLAP bags start to arrive from WhiteAfrican on Vimeo.

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Beware, an Android device will be attacking a cell phone store near you.   Last year we came to know and respect the G1.  Most analysts found the phone to be exciting and adequate for a first try for Google, however many experts insisted that at the time there was nothing game changing about the G1.  Over the course of this year Google has aggressively worked to provide updates to their devices and introduced many cool application such as Google Latitude (an LBS location based service).  They have wisely made their apps available to non Google phone customers.  This strategy has worked well as a method to pluck away windows mobile and iPhone users.
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Google’s newest North American Phone, My Touch 3G will widely be available here in the US this week.  Early reviews of the phone have been positive, however I dont see this as a game changing device.  It’s just more evidence that Google is taking another huge step in the right direction.
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The HTC Hero is the latest Android device that is making a lot of noise in Europe.  The Hero is rumored to be headed to Sprint sometime in the late fall.  Every week that goes by another new Android device rumor is appearing.  Sources have recently revealed that 18 new Android devices may be released this year.  HTC has also revealed that it expects to potentially have 50% of their product line be Android based phones next year.  Google is also branching out from HTC and planning on working with Motorola, Acer, and Samsung.  Microsoft and Apple just keep hearing the Android footsteps coming.  The real question is; are they diversifying their product line too much and too fast?  Only time will tell.  Here are a few other Android Headlines.

Android Netbooks coming from Acer this year after all.

Android to challenge Rim for Enterprise Users

Motorola’s Sholes Smartphone headed to Verizon

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As the clock ticks by I keep getting updates and rumors on when the Touch Pro 2 is going to be released. The rumors keep flying June, July, August.  The strongest rumor seems to be August 12 on TMobile’s network (originally it was suppose to be today July 22). This is somewhat surprising, considering ATT has been the carrier who often takes the lead on HTC’s high end phones. TMobile is aggressively keeping their name out there as the carrier who will release the phone first.

While I am eagerly waiting for the release, I wont be shocked if the release doesn’t happen till closer to Thanksgiving.  I know this would be very disappointing to many including me.  Unless HTC is changing things, I have usually seen about a 6 month waiting period from the European release versus US based release of their Windows mobile phones.  At least as far as ATT is concerned, Thanksgiving has been the time when they have historically had big splashes.  Carriers could also be waiting for Windows Mobile 6.5, so that devices can ship directly with this build. Consumers have been complaining about windows 6.1.

Lets hope I am dead wrong and we all have our 3G Touch Pro 2 phones by August 12.

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Is it just me or has Sony Ericsson failed at successfully entering the mainstream US smartphone market.  Its unclear to me as to why Sony Ericcson hasn’t been competing in the US with HTC, Samsung, RIM and Apple.  Not too many people would say that SE makes poor quality phones.   They certainly dont suffer from lack of technology.  So it is rather strange that several of their phones were never properly introduced to the US market.
sonypp The P900, 910, 990 and 1. are good examples of very sophisticated smartphones but no US carriers backing them.  Additionally SE was was not very disciplined with their release dates.  I recall several delays on the P990.  This actually drove me to HTC.  Last summer I was convinced that the SE Xperia designed by HTC for SE wotj  Windows Mobile’s OS on it would definitely be their arrival in this space.
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The much hyped Xperia X1 never was picked up by a US carrier and never really hit the US market.  All these SE phones were only available if you were able to pay the premium for a non branded unlocked phone.  SE did however aggressively market their walkman type phones in the US.
SE has just announced that they will be introducing an 8.1 Megapixel camera called the Cyber Shot C905A to AT&T this month and another Walkman phone.  The C905a was announced over a year ago and released about 7 months ago in other markets.  I also recently did read that SE was planning to expand their Xperia series of phones this month.  The phones are again heavily loaded and 1 of them is rumored to be an Android Phone.  Will SE finally join the mainstream US smartphone market or is this another episode that we have seen before?  The US market remains small and soft for unlocked phones.  Only about 5 percent of the phones sold each year are unlocked and available from somewhere other than a carrier, SE needs to step up their strategy.

The iPhone is to blame for the growing smartphone frenzy.

It was only about 3 years ago when the average US based cell phone user didn’t know what an app or a sim card was, then along came the iPhone.  Most US based users felt they simply wanted a phone to talk and occasionally text.  A phone with too many features was too complicated for the average user to figure out.  Phones like the Palm Treo were for power smartphone users and left every day users simply perplexed.  Unlocked smartphones like the Nokia Communicator series were far too complicated for people to figure out . Not to mention the $500 plus price tag seemed ridiculous.  Many users who attempted to tackle these phones ended up frustrated and unable to fully utilize them.
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The iPhone simply put these matters to rest.  An out of the box, app friendly,  high-end phone.  Today average users are asking for more apps and features. They are not afraid of the hefty price tag and see their phone as more than just a means to text or make phone calls.  The iPhone deserves a lot of credit for the growth in popularity of US based smartphone users.  The iPhone put the competition on notice.  They either had to make their phones fun and user friendly or else!!  Some companies still haven’t got it and are losing market share.  For example if you put a phone with Windows Mobile 6.1 in someones hands versus giving someone an iPhone, you will get a lot more overall interest from the iPhone, meanwhile the Windows Mobile phone may actually  suit that individual better and have more features.  Some of the latest updates to the iPhone 3Gs were features that existed on other phones for the past 3 years however that did not slow sales down one bit.  As of January this year iPhone sales were up 88%.  The iPhone keeps winning new users every day.

While the competition has to hate the iPhone, they also must thank them at the same time for bringing more users to the smartphone market.

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For years now HTC has been making their phones with just a mini USB port. This basically meant it was a major pain if you wanted to use your normal 3.5 mm headphone. I have bought and lost so many mini USB to 3.5mm audio adapter over the past 3 years. This doesn’t include the many times the adapter was left at home or in a friends car leaving you without headphone use for the day.

HTC has now committed to including 3.5 mm audio jacks on future devices that are not already road mapped. This change comes after years of crying from many dedicated HTC customers.  A recent youtube video shows the a version of the new Touch Pro 2 with the 3.5mm audio jack.

spbSpb software has a great application called Spb Online. Spb online is a gateway to all spbonline products.  Spb calls it the “single entry point for online services. On a much smaller scale its like the iphones app store.  It has great online television module, which includes many foreign channels. My favorite channel is Vox Africa. The TV has a cool feature which is very similar to picture in picture. I like the variety on here especially for the foreign channels. I give it a thumbs up over Mobi TV (for its variety). Mobi TV doesn’t offer me anything too different. Mobi TV is probably better for American programming.

spbtvSpb online also includes a streaming internet radio module which allows you to stream radio stations from all over the world. If you have the streaming URL address for your favorite station you can just play it through their radio module. It stays connected and plays smoothly in the background while you surf the web or run other apps. It also has a news reader, weather tab, games, themes, ring-tones, and an app store. The app store will introduce you to all of Spb’s great products (like the new Spb Mobile and games like Air Islands). Most of them are offered on a Free 2 week trial. Check out Spb’s website for other apps for iphone Symbian S60 and Windows Mobile. www.spbsoftware.com

nav4all

Since last year I have been playing around with a rather unique Navigation system called Nav4All. Nav4All allow you to navigate worldwide on your mobile phone. The best part of it is that it is free of charge (until 2010). There are no subscriptions or downloading fees. The countries supported are North America, Brazil, Mexico, Europe, South Africa, Australia and soon in China. Nav4All is available in 55 languages and in more than 100 different voices.

My personal favorite is the sexy British ladies voice. Nav4all is a dutch based company that use NAVTEQ Mapping Technology. The application can easily be downloaded from their site. When it comes to using the application it is rather user friendly. At times it can be a bit slow especially when it comes to Acquiring the GPS satellites. Nav4All is consistently updating their software and coming out with better releases. Is it better than my AT&T Navigator $10/month? The short answer is no, but it is certainly a little more interesting to use and has a lot of variety to it. Oh yeah and its free. Areas for improvement would be on the look and feel side, its rather basic.

amazon-wirelessFor the past 8 years Amazon has slowly been building their wireless sales unit. I have watched them for years offer mostly GSM devices for a lot less than the actual carriers. Initially I had a lot of skepticism and there was a lot of fine print which made me nervous. After witnessing how the process works and seeing new phones delivered for less, I began to trust Amazon. Initially it was primarily targeted at new subscribers but now they also work with upgrade eligible customers. Amazon has found a way to streamline the rebate process (which we have all dealt with) and create a very user friendly step by step process. Their current Beta is on offering 120 phones from AT&T and Verizon (TMobile and Sprint coming soon). At this program expands, watch retailers start to offer more discounts up front and eliminate long waits for rebates.