John C. Tanner RSS
August 19, 2014

ITEM: This week marks the 20th anniversary of the smartphone.

Which may surprise those of you who thought the iPhone was the first smartphone. Or possibly the Amtek T700 (remember ultra-mobile PCs?). Or possibly one of Nokia’s N Series phones (or, as Nokia described them at the time, “mobile personal computers”).

No. As far as London's Science Museum is concerned, it’s the IBM Simon Personal Communicator.

The Simon first appeared as a prototype in 1992, but didn’t become commercially available until August 16, 1994. If few people here in Asia-Pac remember it, that’s...

August 01, 2014

ITEM: Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg’s “Internet dialtone” is now online in Zambia via a new app released by for subscribers of Bharti subsidiary Airtel.

The app – which is designed for both smartphones and feature phones with web browsers – is essentially a portal that provides free access to a number of web services. Naturally that includes Facebook and Facebook Messenger (as well as Airtel’s mobile site), but it also includes Google Search, Wikipedia, AccuWeather, and sites for information ranging from health and hygiene (via UNICEF) and jobs to...

July 31, 2014

I don’t usually pay a lot of attention to smartphone breakdowns, where an analyst cracks open the latest device and reverse engineers the bill of materials (BOM) to see how much of a margin the manufacturer is making from the RRP. But IHS Technology’s breakdown of the new Amazon Fire Phone is interesting because it illustrates that the device really is more than just the sum of its parts – and that could also be its downfall.

The short version is that the Fire Phone – which is ostensibly an Android phone designed to be tightly integrated with Amazon’s shopping and media ecosystem,...

July 29, 2014

Remember earlier this month when Facebook said it had experimented on its users by spiking newsfeeds with positive and negative stories to see how they affected users’ emotions?

Turns out online dating site OK Cupid has been doing some experimenting of its own – in this case, removing selected text and photos from certain profiles and even lying to some users about potential compatibility matches.

More interestingly, this isn’t even a scandal for OK Cupid co-founder Christian Rudder, who broke the news on the company blog on Monday, and seemed jolly proud of the whole thing...

July 28, 2014

Many telcos are worried about OTT voice/messaging services cannibalizing their revenues. India’s Idea Cellular is not one of them – at least on the domestic voice front.

During a conference call on the cellco’s Q1 FY2015 earnings, Idea Cellular managing director Himanshu Kapania admitted that OTT apps were cutting into IDD voice and SMS revenues, but said domestic voice revenues weren’t suffering significant cannibalization.

The reasons: domestic voice is dirt cheap, and mobile internet penetration remains low, reports MediaNama:

“The reason, in...