October Newsbits

By Naomi Graychase

October 31, 2008

Apple improves App Store; 5,000 devices now Wi-Fi CERTIFIED; Comcast to offer 50Mbps service; AndroidDevCamp in Dallas; Google CEO hits the campaign trail with Obama; Google frees Android source code; and more.

Apple's solved one of the major problems with the App Store. You now have to have actually used an application to post a review of it. Okay, maybe not used, but at least taken the time to either buy or download it. Before this change, anyone could post a review of an application, whether they've used it or not. That meant you couldn't trust what you were reading, making the whole point of having a user-review system moot. To learn more, click here.

October 28, 2008

The Wi-Fi Alliance today announced that it has Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 5,000 consumer and enterprise products since the testing program began in March of 2000. More than 1,000 have been certified since September 2007.

Much of the volume has been driven by the introduction of the 802.11n draft 2.0 specification, said the WFA in a press release today.

Certifications for mobile phones in the first three quarters of 2008 grew by one-third relative to the same period last year. Certifications for consumer electronics grew by two thirds.

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED testing is performed at a worldwide network of 13 independent labs, including a new test facility in China. Independent Wi-Fi Alliance Authorized Test Labs are also located in Germany, India, Korea, Japan, Spain, Taiwan, and the United States. 

"This milestone is a testament to the confidence users have in the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED seal of approval and the commitment of our member companies to delivering the best user experience with Wi-Fi products,” said Edgar Figueroa, executive director of the Wi-Fi Alliance in a press release today. “Our certification programs have evolved quickly parallel to consumer and enterprise needs--the rate at which we certify new products continues to accelerate.”

A comprehensive and searchable list of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products can be found at here.

Octobe 24, 2008

Reuters is reporting that Comcast Corp is beefing up its high-speed Internet access in some of its big city markets, with plans to offer speedier connections to all of its customers by 2010.

Comcast said this week it plans to offer two access speeds for home users, as well as one new speed for business customers. The new speeds are designed to give Comcast's customers quicker access to the bulkier chunks of information over the Internet, such as videos, games and large software programs, and to compete with phone companies' offerings. Click here for the full story.

October 23, 2008

SpringStage, a nationwide startup network, and Big in Japan, the developer of the ShopSavvy application for Google Android phones, are presenting the AndroidDevCamp in Dallas this Saturday, October 25, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event will feature presentations on:

  • How to get started on Android;
  • Google's Android Developers Challenge I and II;
  • Lessons learned in the development of ShopSavvy; and
  • Understanding Android fundamentals.

The event will be held in the offices of Architel, a startup incubator, at the Infomart, 1950 Stemmons Freeway, Suite 2022, Dallas, Texas 75207. For more information or to register for the event, visit http://upcoming.yahoo.com/event/1116168/.

**

One day after endorsing Barack Obama's presidential candidacy, Google CEO Eric Schmidt hit the campaign trail with the Democratic hopeful to appear in a roundtable discussion on the economy in Florida.

The far-ranging panel carried the theme of job creation, but also touched on tax policy, healthcare and education as the government mulls a second economic stimulus package to restore the battered economy.

"I remain optimistic," Schmidt said. "I think we're seeing a century's transformation in five years," he added, referring to the rapid-fire changes that are reshaping industries such as technology and energy. Click here for the full story.

For more on the roll of technology in the campaign, read "Mr. Wi-Fi Goes to Washington?"

**

Mobile developers have a new playground to play in. This week, the Google-led Open Handset Alliance followed through on its promise to make its source code available for free as part of its Android Open Source Project.

The first Android-based phone, the G1, was released earlier this month by T-Mobile and the Android software has been available to beta testers. Since the operating system is open source, the OHA is touting Android as the first truly open, full-featured mobile platform that lets anyone create a mobile device without restrictions. For the full story, click here.

October 21, 2008

Skyhook Wireless, provider of the Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS) and the XPS Hybrid Location System, and Symbian Limited, the market leader in open operating systems for mobile phones, announced today that they are demonstrating Wi-Fi positioning on the latest version of Symbian OSTM, v9.5.

A demonstration of the technology is being showcased on the Symbian stand at the Symbian Smartphone Show in London today and tomorrow.

For more on Skyhook, read "Skyhook Announces New Hybrid Positioning System," "You Are Here: Broadcom Partners with Skyhook," and "Wi-Fi Powers Metro Positioning System."

**

Wayport today announced a new agreement with Sun Healthcare Group to offer public Internet access to Sun's inpatient services subsidiaries, including SunBridge Healthcare Corporation. Sun Healthcare Groups collectively operate 208 skilled nursing, long-term care, and assisted living and mental health centers in 25 states with approximately 22,986 operating beds as of June 2008.

Wayport enables public and private-side applications, services and devices on a single converged network and will initially deliver Internet service for patients, visitors, physicians, and staff at 57 sites, with more to follow.

Forty-two locations will offer Wi-Fi in the Rehab Recovery Suites, along with a Wayport CyberCenter Express (CCE) in the common area of the center. Wayport will enable public access throughout the entire center of 15 additional sites, as well as a CCE unit in the common area.The Wi-Fi service will be free for all users.

For more on Wi-Fi in health care settings, read "WISPs Bring Affordable Broadband to Rural Health Care Providers," "Tuning In to RFID and Wi-Fi," and "Wireless Hospital: Orlando Regional Healthcare."

**

AT&T today announced a new Wi-Fi-enabled smartphone, the Samsung Epix ($199.99 with a two-year service agreement and mail-in rebate).

In addition to Wi-Fi, this Windows Mobile 6.1 handset features built-in GPS, video sharing, and a 2.0 megapixel camera.

Available only to AT&T customers in the U.S., the touch screen Epix includes what AT&T says is "the first-ever implementation of optical mouse technology on a phone sold in the U.S." Located in the center of the device between the right and left soft keys, the optical mouse allows for navigation by simply sweeping a finger over it. To make a selection, a single click will bring users to their desired location within the phone's menus. The optical mouse can also be switched to a four-way navigation key for more traditional navigation. For those who would rather interact directly with the touch screen, they can either use their finger to navigate or the Epix's built-in stylus for pinpoint accuracy.

For more information, please go to http://www.att.com/samsungepix.

October 15, 2008

PDAStreet reports that the first Google Android-run phone, the T-Mobile G1, is selling even more hotly than anticipated. T-Mobile originally ordered half a million G1s from HTC, which it is building the phone for the carrier. It tripled that order to 1.5 million when it quickly sold out of its initial order.

Any G1 pre-ordered after the initial run of half a million won't be delivered to customers until after the launch date of October 22nd. T-Mobile plans to have a couple million additional available in stores on that day.

For more on the G1, click here. 

For more on Android, click here.

October 14, 2008

Sunnyvale, CA-based start-up, Quantenna Communications, a developer of silicon for intelligent wireless networking, today announced what it says is "the world’s first fully integrated 802.11n chipsets with 4x4 MIMO and transmit (Tx) beamforming, which are designed to deliver guaranteed wireless bandwidth within any home, anywhere."

The Quantenna High Speed (QHS) family of chipsets is designed to provide what Quantenna calls "ultra reliability" for delivering high-definition multimedia content over WLANs.

The QHS chipset family consists of:

  • QHS1000 – up to 1 Gbps link speed and 600 Mbps data throughput.
  • QHS600 – up to 600 Mbps link speed and 400 Mbps data throughput.
  • QHS450 – up to 450 Mbps link speed and 200 Mbps data throughput.

"With this announcement, Quantenna has taken a major leap forward in wireless LAN chipset architecture, throughput, and reliability," said Craig Mathias, a principal at the mobile and wireless advisory firm Farpoint Group in a Quentanna press release today. "I’m very impressed with the flexibility and configurability of their offering, which make it appropriate for a broad range of applications. In a highly-competitive market where performance and innovation predominate, Quantenna has staked out an impressive position."

The company will begin sampling its QHS family of chipsets with top-tier customers in both the retail and carrier markets in Q4 2008. Pricing is available upon request.

**

Arch Rock Corporation, a creator of open-standards-based wireless sensor network technology, today announced it has introduced an "outdoor-ready" version of its Internet Protocol-based PhyNet wireless sensor network, geared for use in  environments where protection from dust, water, corrosion and other harsh conditions is required.

According to a press release issued today, "PhyNet N4X gives system integrators the flexibility of battery-powered outdoor nodes connected to a Web-based data platform for developing monitoring solutions in markets, such as urban or municipal networks, high-end agriculturalproducts, EPA Superfund and "brown field" development sites, and solar power fields.

PhyNet N4X will be available later this month at the following price points: 

  • PhyNet N4XRouter $1,995
  • IPserial N4X Node $395
  • IPsensor N4X Node$395
  • IPrelay N4X Node $295
  • Power Pack N4X $100. 
  • A high-gain antenna kit for the PhyNet Router is priced separatelyat $295. 
  • PhyNet Server, $3,495

For more on wireless sensors, read "Grape Networks Turns Wi-Fi Into Wine."

For more on solar power, read "Wi-Fi, Philanthropy, and Solar Power."

October 13, 2008

Rumors are circulating that Apple's next round of updates to its line of notebooks will include an $800 model, possibly based on Intel's Montevina platform--or not. Learn more at InternetNews.com.

**

Fluke Networks, a Washington-based provider of solutions for the testing, monitoring, and analysis of enterprise and telecommunications networks, today announced a new version of its OptiView Series III Integrated Network Analyzer. 

The new version offers an option for full analysis of 802.11n WLANs. 

More info at www.flukenetworks.com.

October 8, 2008

RIM announced today that it will roll out its first touch-screen BlackBerry later this fall.  

The BlackBerry Storm will be available to Verizon Wireless subscribers in the U.S. and Vodafone subscribers in Europe, India, Australia, and New Zealand. Pricing and specific availability dates for the phone have not been release yet.

Some are reporting that it will be in direct competition with the iPhone, but since initial specs released to the press indicate the Storm lacks Wi-Fi, we see it more as an orange to iPhone's...apple.

**

In personal computer lore, it was spreadsheets (VisiCalc on the Apple II and Lotus 1-2-3 on the IBM PC) that established the early desktop computers as an indispensable business tool. Desktop publishing helped the Macintosh get a foothold with professionals and Netscape's browser made the Internet accessible to millions of users for the first time.

The smartphone industry has had its share of hits already, including the phenomenal success of Research in Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry line for keeping business users securely connected to corporate e-mail and, more recently, the iPhone -- with its touchscreen interface and highly regarded mobile Web experience.

But smartphones, representing about 15 percent of the overall phone market by industry estimates, are a high-end niche. What kind of must-have application will it take to expand the market? Read the full story at InternetNews.com.

**

Reuters reports today that the global mobile phone market should grow at much slower-than-expected rates next year as consumers put off buying new devices due to deepening economic concerns, according to forecasts from analysts.

While industry executives often say mobile phones are the last thing consumers will give up to save money, analysts are now citing lengthening phone replacement cycles and weakening economies around the world for their weaker sales estimates.

**

Travelers passing through the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport this month will have access to free services at a Boingo Kiosk. Free amenities include a free Wi-Fi access pass usable at any Boingo airport. Also offered, the chance to get online at the kiosk using the laptops provided, as well as free color printing and charging stations for any electronic devices. The kiosk is located in the Northstar crossing. More info at the Boingo Web site.

October 7, 2008

The introduction of the iPhone 3G last July did wonders to pop Apple's place in the smartphone market, with users dumping their phones to switch to Apple's device.

But Apple will be hard-pressed to maintain its growth curve as new challengers enter the market.

That's according to research from the NPD Group, which found that Apple's slice of the smartphone market went from 11 percent in June to 17 percent of the market overall by the end of August. Apple had quite a run of sales during that three-month period at 24 percent of smartphone sales. For more, read the full story at InternetNews.com.

**

Reuters reported today that U.S. chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices said it plans to spin off its manufacturing plants into a joint venture with Abu Dhabi to get a cash injection and shrink debt to better compete against larger rival Intel.

**

In the first month of its App Store, an online software clearinghouse, Apple iPod users downloaded more than 60 million programs for the iPhone, CEO Steve Jobs told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. Read more at InternetNews.com.

**

Reuters reports that Microsoft executives have been making the rounds at talent agencies and production companies in recent months in hopes of licensing exclusive original video programming for its Wi-Fi-enabled Zune portable media player, which has struggled to gain traction in the marketplace.

**

Motorola may have finally turned the corner on its decline in mobile devices and Research In Motion's BlackBerry now represents one in every ten smartphones sold in the United States, according to a report released in August from Strategy Analytics. Read more here.

October 3, 2008

Meru Networks announced last week that its wireless LANs have been verified to “reliably deliver life-critical information from Dräger's patient-worn monitors, following comprehensive interoperability tests the two companies recently conducted.”

In a press release issued September 22nd, Meru said that the tests ensure that “hospitals and other healthcare facilities can use Dräger's Infinity OneNet architecture and Infinity M300 patient-worn monitors with Meru's single-channel, virtual-cell wireless architecture with the assurance that the combined solution will deliver vital patient data to healthcare professionals in a consistent and timely manner and with a guaranteed quality of service (QoS).” 

"Dräger has leveraged the IEEE 802.11 standards to create a visionary approach to merging WLAN-based telemetry with other commercial healthcare applications," said Sarosh Vesuna, Meru's vice president of business development in the release. “"The Dräger-Meru solution will allow hospitals with Meru Wi-Fi infrastructure to seamlessly adopt Dräger wireless monitoring, while hospitals with an investment in Dräger equipment can deploy a single Meru wireless LAN for all their medical and commercial requirements."

**

A group of leading technology vendors, including Cisco, SAP, and Sun, have formed a new group, the IP for Smart Objects (IPSO) Alliance, whose goal is promoting the Internet Protocol (IP) as the networking technology best suited for connecting sensor- and actuator-equipped or "smart" objects and delivering information gathered by those objects.Smart objects transmit information about their condition or environment (such as temperature, motion, health status) to locations where the information can be analyzed, correlated with other data and acted upon. Common applications include hospital patient monitoring, automated functions in homes and office buildings, factory equipment maintenance, and asset tracking.

In a press release issued September 16, the group said its work is “intended to complement the efforts of entities, such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).”

The IPSO Alliance will perform interoperability tests, document the use of new IP-based technologies, conduct marketing activities, and serve as an information repository for users seeking to understand the role of IP in networks of physical objects, and “seeks to advocate how networks of objects of all types have the potential to be converged onto IP.”Founding members of the IPSO Alliance are Arch Rock, Atmel, Cimetrics, Cisco, Duke Energy, Dust Networks, eka systems, EDF (Électricité de France) R&D, Emerson, Freescale, IP Infusion, Jennic, Kinney Consulting, Nivis, PicosNet, Proto6, ROAM, SAP, Sensinode, SICS, Silver Spring Networks, Sun Microsystems, University of Tampere, Watteco, and Zensys."The aim of the Alliance is to provide the community with more information on smart objects and the industries and markets where they play an effective role,” said Geoff Mulligan, industry consultant and IPSO Alliance chairman in the release. “ We will offer case studies and white papers, track IETF and other standards, and organize demonstrations and interoperability events."More information is available at the IPSO Alliance Web site.

Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-Fi Planet. She is based in Western Massachusetts.

Originally published on .

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