Wi-Fi Product Watch, April 2009

By Wi-Fi Planet Staff

April 30, 2009

Motorola reports major decline in sales; Ekahau and NavSync announce a Wi-Fi/GPS RTLS tag; Hong Kong's PCCW will deploy Ruckus APs at 5,000+ hotspots; Wi-Fi helps with advanced sub-metering; video over 802.11n module from Meru; Palm Treo Pro now available in Canada; JiWire gets new infusion of cash; Verizon Wireless HTC Touch Diamond available tomorrow; and more.

Despite long efforts at a turnaround, embattled wireless giant Motorola today reported continued pain with worse-than-expected sales and earnings, and a precipitous drop in revenue from its once-mighty consumer mobile business.

The company reported a 28 percent drop in first-quarter sales to $5.37 billion, down from $7.44 billion a year ago and below forecasts by Wall Street--analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had anticipated $5.55 billion in sales.

That decline in sales led to a $0.13 per-share loss for the first three months of the year, excluding income from discontinued operations, which proved wider than the loss of $0.11 a share analysts had predicted.

The company's mobile devices segment was hit especially hard, with sales tanking to the tune of a 45 percent decline from last year, down to $1.8 billion. That led to an operating loss of $509 million, versus $418 million in the same quarter of 2008. For the full story at InternetNews.com, click here.

April 27, 2009

Wi-Fi-based Real Time Location Systems (RTLS) provider, Ekahau, today announced that its Wi-Fi location tracking software is being integrated into GPS receivers designed by NavSync Ltd., a division of The Connor-Winfield Corp. 

The new tags expand the ability to track the location of assets and inventory, from inside a building, across a campus environment, or even on the other side of the world.

"Being able to track the location of assets and inventory both indoors and in complex or large outdoor environments with a single device over Wi-Fi is a game-changing innovation," said Tuomo Rutanen, vice president of Business Development at Ekahau in a statement today. "We are excited to be working with NavSync to bring to market a solution that will significantly enhance the usefulness of location tracking applications in a wide variety of industries, such as container yards, logistics depots, and open pit mining operations where Wi-Fi can be leveraged for connectivity and GPS satellite visibility is available."

The Wi-Fi-enabled GPS tag combines NavSync's NavTrac high-performance GPS module with Ekahau's location protocol. Ekahau's location protocol is available free of charge as part of the Located by Ekahau program, which enables adding positioning to Wi-Fi-compliant devices. In order to begin tracking those devices, users need to deploy Ekahau Positioning Engine (EPE) server software, which can be installed centrally or remotely to support several customer sites over IP networks from a single server location.

Scheduled to begin shipping in 3Q09, the Ekahau-enabled NavTrac Wi-Fi-enabled GPS receivers "deliver a real-time tracking solution that can be quickly deployed and requires little or no upfront infrastructure costs."

More details are available from Ekahau.

For more on Wi-Fi and GPS locationing, read "Another Big Win for Wi-Fi Positioning," "GPS Chips Get Wi-Fi Positioning," and "You Are Here: Broadcom Partners with Skyhook."

For more on RTLS, read "Tracking Shoppers with Wi-Fi and RTLS," "UWB Brings Greater Precision to RTLS," "May 2008 Newsbits."

For more on Ekahau, read "Ekahau Offers Location-Aware Code," "Ekahau's Positioning Engine 2.0," and "Ekahau's "Infrastructureless" Tags."

**

Ruckus Wireless announced last week that PCCW, Hong Kong's premier telecommunications provider, has selected its ZoneFlex 802.11n Smart Wi-Fi access points to deliver "ultra-fast" mobile Internet access and mobile infotainment content from its network of 5,000 Wi-Fi hotspots throughout Hong Kong.  

PCCW has already installed over 2,000 Ruckus ZoneFlex 802.11g access points in their Wi-Fi hotspots located in convenience stores, coffee shops, restaurants, shopping malls, the airport, and telephone booths.

"With its innovative use of Smart Wi-Fi, PCCW is setting the standard for ubiquitous, reliable, high-performance wireless broadband services that deliver the ultimate mobile Internet experience," said Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless.
 
For more on Selina Lo, read "Industry Insiders: Ruckus Wireless CEO, Selina Lo."
 
April 16, 2009
 
U.S.-based Electro Industries/GaugeTech (EIG) announced last week the release of its new Shark 200-S electrical sub-meter. According to EIG, the Shark provides "highly accurate 0.2% revenue-certified bidirectional energy measurement coupled with extensive interval data logging and patented IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi communication."
 
While that's a tongue-twister to most of us, its good news to those looking to log and record every aspect of power including voltage, current, frequency, Watts, VARs, and PF, in addition to interval energy data.
 
Like my mama always said, "It's the amps not the volts that'll getcha."
 
EIG says, there are up to 2MB and three historical logs available, as well as an alarm log and a system events log for logging attempted reads and tampering.
 
And, most interesting to us, the Shark meter's communication capabilities include Wi-Fi, which allows users to take advantage of pre-existing wireless infrastructures where available within a facility.
 
Isn't Wi-Fi handy?

April 14, 2009

Meru Networks today announced its first 802.11n WLAN solution optimized for delivering high-quality video.

Meru's Video Services Module (ViSM) is "designed to address video-delivery issues specific to 802.11n networks, which are susceptible to unpredictable loss rates that can negatively impact video quality. The module applies application-aware optimization techniques to web streaming and real-time multicast video, the underlying technologies that enable a broad array of video applications, fromwireless projection, IPTV and event simulcast to videoconferencing, telepresence and video surveillance."

It will begin shipping June and is priced a $7,795 for 100 APs.

April 13, 2009

Palm announced Tuesday that its Wi-Fi-enabled (802.11b/g) Treo Pro smartphone is now available in Canada. The Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional smartphone features a high-resolution color touch screen, a full QWERTY keyboard, turn-by-turn navigation, and full Web-browsing capabilities.

**

It looks like ad-driven Wi-Fi hasn't gasped its last breath. "Mobile audience media company," JiWire announced Wednesday that it has secured another round of funding from investors. The $11 million infusion of capital, from both new and existing investors, including Comcast Interactive Capital, will help JiWire continue to use Wi-Fi access as a medium for advertising. The San Francisco-based company says it now reaches 20 million unique users per month across 25,000 Wi-Fi hotspots. 

"JiWire is the clear leader in monetizing Wi-Fi with digital advertising and has a proven track record of connecting blue chip advertisers with their relevant audiences," said Chris Albinson, partner at Panorama Capital in a statement Wednesday. "We're excited about the company's rapid growth and look forward to the continued accelerating adoption of broadband wireless technologies that will fuel JiWire's expansion plans. The mobile Web and Wi-Fi are increasingly synonymous, and JiWire is the only company to reach people who are using this as a media on a scale that allows for powerful brand engagement."

Since, according to In-Stat, 387 million new Wi-Fi-enabled devices shipped last year--including 56 million cellular devices and 71 million portable consumer electronic devices--and more people looking to get free access, he may well have his eye on the right prize.

For more on JiWire, read "JiWire Grants Free Access to iPhone Users."

For more on ad-supported Wi-Fi, read "Making Cents of Ad-Supported Wi-Fi."

April 9, 2009

HTC's Touch Diamond ($299.99 after a $70 mail-in rebate with a new two-year customer agreement) will be available to consumers tomorrow from Verizon Wireless. Aimed at business professionals, the Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional-based Touch Diamond has built in Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), Bluetooth, and uses the hybrid 2.5/3G CDMA2000 standard [1xEV-DO Revision A (Rev. A) 800/1900 MHz and 1xRTT/IS95 A/B 800/1900 MHz].

Other features include:

  • a microSD memory card slot (up to 16 GB)
  • a 3.2 megapixel autofocus camera
  • video capture
  • the "intuitive" HTC TouchFlo 3D interface and a touch screen keyboard

The Touch Diamond is compatible with Microsoft Outlook, POP3, and IMAP4 e-mail, and SMS. It uses a Qualcomm MSM7500A 528MHz processor and is rated for up to five hours of talk time. More details at the Verizon Wireless site.

April 8, 2009

Web giants Google and Yahoo! both targeted the mobile space this week with new communications debuts. Yahoo unveiled Yahoo Messenger for the iPhone, while Google brought out a new mobile version if its Gmail e-mail service designed for the iPhone, as well as Android-powered devices, such as T-Mobile's G1.

The news comes at a time when developers are scrambling to take advantage of the hot selling iPhone and its ever-growing App Store of applications. There have been over 800 million downloads at the App Store since its release last year. The App Store features over 25,000 applications, according to Apple.

Yahoo! joins other programs, such as AOL's AIM instant messenger on the iPhone.

Beyond simple chat instant messaging, Messenger includes the ability to send a variety of emoticons and share pictures. The chat feature itself gets around, to a degree, the iPhone's inability to multitask or run more than one program at a time.

For more, click here. For related stories, read "G1 Takes on iPhone," "T-Mobile Launches First Android Phone," "Fix Issued for G1 Security Glitch."

April 7, 2009

Rumor has it that La Fonera 2.0 will go on sale in Europe April 21st and in the U.S. (and other markets) in May. While we can only grudgingly support products from companies that leave the hyphen out of "Wi-Fi"--it gets our goat, raises our ire, puts a burr in our saddle, etc.--nevertheless...the euro banditos--or, Foneros--at FON earn our attention by continuing to try and spread Wi-Fi amongst the unwashed masses. And for encouraging safe sharing.

For more on FON, read our review of the FON La Fonera Router, as well as these other scintillating stories:

April 2, 2009

Firetide announced Tuesday a new wireless solution that it says delivers up to 400 Mbps throughput. The MIMO-based Firetide HotPort 7000 is built to enable deployment of large-scale municipal, industrial, and enterprise wireless networks for video, data, and voice applications.

Firetide says, "Now with the HotPort 7000 infrastructure mesh, [large-scale deployments] have fiber-equivalent performance with all the benefits of Firetide’s proven technology and at a fraction of the cost and time to deploy wired networks."

Firetide is demonstrating Firetide HotPort 7000 at ISC West in Las Vegas, NV this week. It will be available through Firetide distribution channels 2Q09.

April 1, 2009

According to The Wall Street Journal, Hewlett-Packard may use Google's Android operating system in some of its netbooks, displacing Microsoft's Windows.

Android is used on smartphones, such as HTC's G1, but is being designed to support all kinds of connected devices. Chipmaker Freescale, which recently began making chips for netbooks, plans to expand its offering to include chipsets for Android. More details here.

**

Research in Motion's BlackBerry App World opens for business today, putting the company in position to strike back at Apple, which has boosted the popularity of its iPhone among consumers and developers thanks to its a large collection of downloadable applications.

RIM expects approximately 1,000 free and paid applications to be posted by partners this week, including applications from popular brands, such as MTV Networks, Bloomberg, and the New York Times that can be downloaded either by Wi-Fi or mobile (cellular) networks.

Features include the ability to browse applications by a variety of categories and search by keyword; user reviews that include a "recommend" tool for passing on apps to friends through e-mail, BlackBerry-to-BlackBerry PIN messages or SMS; a personal storage utility for the apps; a "Top Downloads" area for most popular apps, and weekly featured apps.

BlackBerry App World won't support all of the company's devices, however; it's limited to BlackBerries with a trackball or touchscreen and running version 4.2 or higher of its software.

Wi-Fi-enabled BlackBerries include the T-Mobile Pearl 8120 (read a review here) and the Curve 8320 (reviewed here).

For more details on BlackBerry App World, click here to read the full story at InternetNews.com.

**

Verisign says it has a solution for iPhone users worried about identify theft and phishing attacks. The company's VIP Access for Mobile application is now available for free download at the App Store for the iPhone.

The security app offers two-factor identification designed to strengthen protection on e-commerce sites and with other online accounts. As of today's launch, Verisign said it has signed up over 40 Web sites as participating members of its VIP Network, including eBay, PayPal, and AOL.

With two-factor authentication, data or applications are secured using a pair of protection methods. In this case, Verisign supplements a participating site's username and password by generating an additional credential on the iPhone. The credential is randomly generated and changes every thirty seconds. [More details at InterentNews.com.]

For more on two-factor authentication, read "Online Crime Pushes Drive for Two-Factor Authentication" and "Two-Factor Authentication, Get Used to It."

**

MSI Computer today announced the upcoming release of its new Wind U123 and X320 & X340 X-Slim notebooks. Starting at $700, the notebooks pack a wireless wallop for near netbook prices.

Powered by an Intel Atom Z530 1.6GHz processor, the X320 includes 802.11 b/g/n-draft Wi-Fi and an optional 3G/WiMAX solution. It will be available in silver, white, or black.


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