links for 2009-06-08
According to BetaNews Motorola (NYSE: MOT) is switching a phone that was supposed to ship with Windows Mobile to Google (NSDQ: GOOG)’s Android platform. Is this a cost issue or a marketing decision? From a licensing perspective, Android is free whereas Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) charges for each phone that Windows Mobile is put on. Motorola’s handset division has been in financial straits for some time now so this could be a cost cutting maneuver. It may also be that Motorola is trying to get the device out the door as soon as possible with a more modern OS. Windows Mobile 6.1 is a bit long in the tooth since it is visually almost indistinguishable from WinMo 5, a platform that shipped nearly 4 years ago. WinMo 6.5, which is substantially updated, was just completed this month, but it will be three months or more before the first devices start showing up.
Sprint (NYSE: S) threw a cold bucket of reality on the pipe dreams of AT&T (NYSE: T)’s Randall Stephenson and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) Wireless’s Lowell McAdam. It verified that it will be the sole distributor of the Palm Pre “through 2009.” Sprint spokesperson James Fisher spoke in no uncertain terms. He said, “We have the Pre through 2009.” That means AT&T and Verizon Wireless will have to wait at least six months before they can sell the device, which won’t put the Pre on their shelves until very close to the December holidays, if not into January. This statement comes after AT&T’s Randall Stephenson and Verizon Wireless’s Lowell McAdam both indicated they’d be offering the Palm Pre at some point in the future. Verizon’s McAdams went so far as to say, “Over the next six months or so you will see devices like Palm Pre and a second generation Storm.”
Palm’s last, best gasp may be in fact a lifesaver. The Pre drew early rave reviews, and the news keeps getting better as the device nears launch date. The better news for Palm is that Verizon has also committed to shipping the Pre once the Sprint (NYSE: S) exclusivity window expires in 6 months, which means Palm isn’t betting its future on a network that is hemorrhaging customers at an alarming rate. Initially the Pre will only be available on the Sprint network, which while it has done a great job of marketing itself of late (particularly with those awesome black and white spots with CEO Dan Hesse), and is racing to extend its 4G WiMAX network as quickly as possible, is nevertheless the poor relation among the major U.S. carriers. Throw in the news that Pre can fool iTunes into syncing music files, and you have the makings of a real challenger to the iPhone. (Surely didn’t hurt Palm’s developers that CEO Jon Rubenstein is an Apple alumnus.)
I just returned from a trip to Michigan, a state that is reeling from the downturn in the economy. All of my friends – some of whom work for General Motors and have just been laid off for much of the summer – have been affected in one way or another. Unable to move because no one will buy their homes, the only option for many is to start their own business, and for some, that means turning to the Internet.
Hartford Financial Services Group HIG.N said on Thursday that Chief Executive Ramani Ayer, under pressure from shareholders as the 199-year-old insurer struggles with record losses, would retire by the end of the year. The large life and property insurer, set to receive $3.4 billion in taxpayer funds, is looking outside the company for a successor to 62-year-old Ayer, according to a statement.
Move over, iPhone. You’ve had two years on top of the smart phone world. Now there’s a touch-screen phone with better software: the Palm Pre. In a remarkable achievement, Palm Inc., a company that was something of a has-been, has come up with a phone operating system that is more powerful, elegant and user-friendly. The Pre, which goes on sale Saturday for $200 (after a mail-in rebate) at Sprint stores, makes it easier to do more things on the go.
A Romanian immigrant has been sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison for running a lucrative computerized “phishing” scheme that collected financial records and personal identification from thousands of individuals, including nearly 100 from Minnesota. Sergiu D. Popa, 23, of Shelby Township, Mich., was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Minneapolis for a plot that cost his 7,000 or so victims about $700,000, by his own admission.
The White House has released a report calling for urgent action to secure the nation’s computer network infrastructure. The report covers the findings of a 60-day review of national cybersecurity policy and practice by Melissa Hathaway, a member of the National Security Council (NSC) and the acting White House cybersecurity chief. The report dovetailed with President Obama’s announcement Friday of the creation of a cybersecurity coordinator who will orchestrate and integrate federal cybersecurity policies and agendas.
This strategy could give the Pre some interesting capabilities. For instance, Palm has revealed that the phone’s search feature will automatically search the Web as well as the data stored on the device itself. Attracting application developers will be crucial for Palm, says Mike Gualtieri, an analyst at Forrester. As the company tries to build up its own app store, it will run up against fierce competition. With so many smart phones on the market, each with its own OS, its own store, and its own apps, individual and professional programmers will have to make tough decisions. Gualtieri says that this might be where Palm has a chance to shine. Gualtieri has seen a trend toward companies expanding into more-advanced Internet applications. So when companies go looking for a mobile applications platform, Palm may be positioned as the easiest, most accessible choice, based on Web standards that match the technologies that the company already uses.