Harshdeep 2.0

June 16, 2006

Umundo: Abazab’s nemesis

Filed under: Internet, Mobile, Video — harshdeep @ 5:48 am

vs

The similarity between Umundo and Abazab does not end with their difficult-to-spell names. Like Abazab (that I mentioned in my last post), Umundo let’s you upload videos directly from your camera phone. People can view your videos at a webpage that Umundo creates for you, or you can embed a widget on your own webpage just like Abajab. Here is my Umundo page.

MobileCrunch has a comparison between the two.

One annoying thing about Umundo is that once you’ve uploaded a video, you can’t delete it. This is a serious handicap especially when you are dealing with public sharing of personal videos.

Update: Deletion is now possible in Umundo as mentioned by the readers in the comments.

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June 10, 2006

Zyb – Online mobile data backup

Filed under: Internet, Mobile — harshdeep @ 9:35 pm

Zyb betaNewly offered Zyb is essentially a free online backup service for mobile phone data. It lets you save the contacts and calendar data from your phone to its web servers so that they are safe even if you lose your phone.

There are, of course, other methods for backing up mobile data. I have a Nokia 6630. I can use Nokia PC Suite to couch my mobile data in the safety of my laptop, home computer or a CD. In case I lose my phone, I can buy a new one and use the backed up data to load it with my contacts etc. But wait – I’m using Nokia PC Suite, right? If my new phone is not a Nokia, I can’t extract anything out of the backed up data – it’s a blackhole for me. Maybe I’ll find a hack to convert .nfb and .nfc files created by Nokia PC Suite to backup my data to something that can be used to update the new phone. Maybe I won’t. In any case, it will be time consuming.

Zyb sounds like a better option in this respect because it supports a wider range of mobile phones.

It synchronizes data using SyncML (Synchronization Markup Language), a platform-independent synchronization standard backed by Open Mobile Alliance. Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and Siemens AG have been making their phones compliant with SyncML for quite some time now.

Setting Zyb up on my Nokia 6630 was a breeze. They have done a commendable job at making the setting up process simple and tailormade for specific phone models – at least for 6630, I found very specific instructions.

However, synchronization wasn’t that smooth. I kept getting “Connection failed” error. Curiously, this error would come after 66 or 191 out of 271 contacts have been uploaded. Maybe it’s got something to do with the buffer size used in the transmission. I guess Zyb’s servers have been overloaded with sudden deluge of users right now.

Apart from data backup, Zyb provides some other neat features as well. For example, if your friends (who have a Zyb account) change their phone number or other details, it gets automatically updated in your Zyb database and consequently on your phone the next time you synchronize.

Zyb doesn’t provide a way to integrate with Outlook yet. They say they are going to provide it for a fee in some time. As of now, one can buy an Oulook plug-in here to do the job.

But there are security issues involved in using a service like this. Many users will hesitate uploading private information like contacts and calendar details to a remote server unless they are absolutely convinced about the security of their data. It will be vey important for Zyb to gain that kind of confidence.

Since mobile phones are quickly taking on the responsibilities of a laptop, are more prone to theft and get upgraded more frequently, mobile data backup is becoming important and Zyb seems to be a timely solution.

April 30, 2006

Music download on mobile phones comes to India

Filed under: Mobile — harshdeep @ 5:36 pm

This is a first in India. Hutch (brandname of Hutchison Essar) is offering full song downloads to mobile phones. The offer is starting with songs from the movie Krrish.

According to the website, charges "start" from Rs 20/song. Makes me wonder if they are going to have different charges for different songs. That sounds like anti-marketing to me. If they go with differential pricing and make more popular songs more expensive, sales of less expensive songs might go further down. By pricing them lower, the company itself will be sending out a signal that the song is not that good.

Comparing just by the currency exchange rates, the base cost is almost half of $0.99/song of iTunes. And yes, the supported phones include most of the Series 60 phones of Nokia.

March 28, 2006

The hype about Mobile TV

Filed under: Mobile — harshdeep @ 8:30 pm

Would you want to watch TV on your mobile phone? Irrespective of your answer, thousands of people all over the world are working tirelessly to bring TV to your phone. They have their reasons for this. For telecom operators, a new service means more revenue per user. Content providers are excited about a whole new way of pushing video content to the consumer.

For the consumer, unlike many other mobile services, this one is easy to understand.

But it's gonna be interesting to see how these companies make consumers want to watch video on small mobile phone screens. I, as a consumer, won't be interested in watching entire movies or TV serial episodes on my mobile phone. But news clips, sports highlights and music videos seem to be interesting if I don't have to pay through my nose for that. In India, you can already download clips of Great India Laughter Challenge and Cricket highlights. The existence of such services and the popularity of video iPod means that people are actually willing to watch videos on the tiny screen and even pay for it.

Current Penetration

Broadcast Mobile TV is already available in South Korea. In the less mobile-savvy parts of the world, companies are still testing waters. Cingular, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel offer on-demand video services. Cingular also provides a live TV service through MobiTV. Report

Finnish broadcast, content and mobile communications companies are pilot testing Mobile TV in the Helsinki Metropolitan area since autumn 2004.

Nokia estimates suggest that around 20% of active mobile phone users are highly interested in Mobile TV service and prepared to pay a realistic charge for it – around 10 to 12 euros a month.

Technology
This is where it gets kinda murky. There's no one standard for providing Mobile TV – different operators are testing different standards that require different hardware and are generally incompatible with each other. Various standards being tried out are –

  • S-DMB and T-DMB (Satellite or Terrestrial Digital Media Broadcasting) Currently being used in South Korea.
  • DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) Being used by Virgin Mobile UK. It uses the same technology as T-DMB and spectrum available in most parts of the world.
  • DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting to Handhelds) Being used by TIM, Italy. The preferred spectrum for this standard is the UHF spectrum but that is taken by analog TV in most of the countries. Nokia is a big supporter of DVB-H.Reasons they mention are – low initial investment, good picture quality, efficient battry and bandwidth consumption, device interoperability and security
  • MBMS (Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service)
  • QUALLCOM's MediaFLO (Forward Link Only)

It would definitely be better for the penetration of Mobile TV if one of these standards comes out as a clear winner. In any case, it would be interesting to keep an eye on this emerging field.

February 15, 2006

Things I want my mobile phone to do

Filed under: Mobile — harshdeep @ 6:56 pm

Here is my wish list for my mobile phone. Some of these are already available in some models, some are under consideration and others are just pure fantasization.

  1. VoIP: Automatically switch from Cellular network and VoIP when there is a Wi-Fi connection available. Nokia and Qualcomm are pushing for this kind of convergence. Dual-mode phones (with both Cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity) are being demoed in 3GSM Conference, Barcelona.
  2. Location awareness: I think GPS receivers are going to be just as common on mobile phones as cameras already have. Some companies like Mitac already provide Windows Mobile powered Pocket PCs with GPS receivers. Bluetooth GPS receivers are already available for Series 60 devices. Nokia has plans to launch its own. I think we’ll see GPS equipped Symbian phones in the market pretty soon. There is a host of services that can be provided when GPS enabled phones become common.
  3. Browse desktop: I should be able to browse my desktop from anywhere using my mobile phone. I want to have access to all my pictures, mp3s, powerpoint presentations and business documents from anywhere. One of the available options for this is Avvenu
  4. Universal Remote: Once I set up a Wi-Fi network in my home, I’d like to use my mobile phone as a remote for surfing channels in my TV, looking at the playlist of my Audio Player, changing water temperature in my bath etc. The mobile phone can do a lot more than being just a universal remote. It can, for example, display the artwork of the album of the current song that’s playing in my audio system and can also show me the lyrics downloaded from the internet.
  5. Substitute Credit Cards: There’s also this idea of converging credit cards with mobile phones so that you can pay directly from your phone and don’t have to carry all those cards. They already have this in place in Japan. I read in Times of India some time back about Airtel planning to introduce this here in India.
  6. Integration with vehicle: If my phone rings while I’m driving, my car should be able to pick up the caller’s number and name from the phone’s contacts list and display it on the dashboard display. And I press a button somewhere easily accessible on the dashboard – better still if the display is a touch screen and I hear the voice on the car’s speakers. Nokia 616 Bluetooth Car Kit is one gadget that does something like this. The car should automatically lock up when I go a certain distance away from it i.e. as soon as the mobile phone that I’m carrying in my pocket goes out of the bluetooth range from the car.

Is it too much to ask for?

February 8, 2006

Mobile Tag – minimising clicks on the mobile phone

Filed under: Mobile — harshdeep @ 5:39 pm

Mobile Tag

This is information retrieval in its simplest and most convenient way.

This is how it works – on your business card, you print a tag (somewhat like a barcode) along with all the other details. When you give it to someone, he just takes a picture of this tag with his camera phone. An application sitting in the phone identifies the tag, contacts a server and fetches all the related info about the tag. That info may include your phone number, address, email, url and all this gets stored in the address book of that phone. The other guy doesn’t have to type a thing!

For more examples of using this brilliant concept, watch the demonstration video at Mobile Tag’s website.

The entire site, apart from the demo video, is available only in French, so I can’t glean any more info until they put up an English translation also.

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