Tag Archives: Motorola

Linux to Offer Seamless Mobile App & Content Sharing

Does Linux have a bright future in the mobile ecosystem? If you’re Andrew Shikiar, the director of global marketing for the LiMo Foundation, the answer is an emphatic yes. LiMo Foundation is an industryshikiar-21 consortium and non-profit corporation founded in 2007 and dedicated to creating an open, hardware-independent, Linux-based operating system for mobile devices. Shikiar sat down with MobilizedTV to talk about the foundation’s work and the future of Linux in the mobile ecosystem.image001

Which were the founding companies of LiMo?

The LiMo Foundation was founded by Motorola, Orange, NTT Docomo, NEC, Panasonic, Vodaphone and Samsung, a mix of operators and OEMs. All these companies that founded the organization had a history of delivering Linux-based handsets to consumers. What they quickly realized is that Linux is a powerful but fragmented technology for handsets, and that it made sense to find a layer of the operating system (O/S) on which they could collaborate while carving out room for differentiation and competition.

LiMo set out to create middleware part of the platform that would be common, that everyone could leverage and use, so that the rest of the mobile ecosystem could more efficiently create pertinent services and applications that would leverage that platform.

Give us some context to Linux as an operating system in the mobile arena.

There are so many operating systems, you can’t count the number of them in the mobile world. There are dozens of platforms. Your old phones had an input screen, they each had their own menu; the phone and O/S were one and the same. The idea you can implement a common O/S across devices really took root several years ago.There was no common platform until phones started getting smarter.

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Big Brother Goes Mobile

On July 13, when CBS debuts “Big Brother 10,” it will also debut “Big Brother: Live TV Challenge,” an interactive component to the show.

Big Brother splash

Big Brother splash

AirPlay, a company that’s been creating multi-player TV games since 2005, specializes in connecting mobile devices to U.S. television households (the company is backed by Qualcomm, Motorola, JK&B Capital, Onset Ventures and Redpoint Ventures).

“Big Brother: Live TV Challenge” allows users to use their mobile phone, or the Internet, to earn prizes and communicate with one another, while they’re watching the program. The premise rests on the well-established fact that teens and young people are two-screen viewers, always on the Internet and/or mobile phone while they watch television. AirPlay’s interactive game makes the most of this demographic’s natural tendency to social networking while TV watching.

In addition to social networking, viewers can compete against one another through predictions, “Pop Polls,” trivia and memory of past show events. This season’s prize to the top Big Brother interactive champion is eligibility to win a trip to the live season finale in Los Angeles.

To try out AirPlay’s Big Brother: Live TV Challenge, log onto CBS, AirPlay or text BB10 to PLAYTV. The game is available on AllTell, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless.

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Making Mobile Easy to Use

A fun conference opener, where moderator Dave Ullmer, senior director of entertainment products at Motorola and MEF Americas Vice Chair challenged attendees to do a series of increasingly difficult tasks on their cell phones – and please DO try this at home: call home or office, take a photo, hand the phone to their neighbor to take a photo, set the alarm on their phone, find the Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations and tune in to CNN live.

Get the point? Cell phones are not intuitive or easy to use. Very few devices are intended to be difficult to use; the exception is child-proof caps on medicine bottles. People will pay with quality paired with convenience.

Panelists included Ira Cohen, senior direcctor of biz dev and marketing at SanDisk; Dick Wingate, president of media development/COO at Nellymoser; Sanjaya Krishna, principal of advisory services at KPMG and Adam Sexton, CMO at Groove Mobile (recently purchased by LiveWire Digital) and MEF Americas Board Director, and Rob Podoloff, vp of R&D for Zeemote.

Zeemote makes wireless controllers that work with the cell phone; a fully analog joystick allows a full console-like gaming experience. The SDK is provided free to game developers who can incorporate it into their Java-based games. SanDisk is active in the mobile space. Known as a memory company, they have also been looking at the user experience, says Cohen. “I want to be able to download something for all of my devices, much like Thomas Gewecke said in his Warner Bros. keynote. The experience of trying to access content isn’t there. When I go to a PC, I can use any PC in the world. If I’m a Mac guy, I can use any Mac in the world. But when I pick up a cell phone, even from the same manufacturer, everything is different.”

Sandisk makes small memory devices, with the idea that the content can be taken elsewhere. It comes with an adapter, like a mini-SD card, which has a USB dongle built-in to it, so it can be plugged in, and slots on the side to take any kind of card. The latest is a USB dongle with a tiny 8-GB micro-SD card that can be used with the phone, and then plugged into the computer for download, for same content on the phone and PC. “This is a protected Flash memory device, so the content is protected on the device,” Cohen says, “So the content owners don’t have to worry about me stripping away the content and giving it to my friends.”

KPMG‘s Krishna wanted to broaden the definition of user experience. It’s also how users interface with customer service, how they react to marketing messages, their phone bill, and so on. When you look at the mobile content value chain, there is fragmentation for the user experience, and lots of opportunities for finger-pointing. We’re seeing lots of lawsuits around people who thought they were just downloading one ring tone and find they’re on a subscription service.

He said he’s thinking of buying his father a Jitterbug phone with large keys and only one or two features. “The idea – is there a way to be able to tailor interfaces?” he asks. The user experience for people who are tech-savvy versus people like my dad, he asks, is there a way to dynamically tailor the experience? In terms of side-loading and smart phones, he believes that more people will download content via side-loading (via USB), because that’s an easier user experience.

The vision is to get the technology out of the way and let consumers do what they want to do, says Ullmer, who brought some gadgets from Motorola to show off what the company is up to. First is a camera phone where you press a button to go into camera mode instantly. Taking photos off your phone is difficult and most people ultimately delete them. Motorola built an automatic uploading to the camera site of your choice, such as Kodak gallery. The “save” also sends the photos to that site. Carriers did try to stop this in the beginning. The use of this features was huge in the beginning…until the bill hit. So consumers went back to sending photos via PC and other less expensive ways. Now, data rates are going to start making the first model possible again. (The MEFCOM group on Facebook features photos he took and uploaded this way.)

The first way to do this, says Ullmer, is to make it not a phone. On a glass surface, when he pushed the “music” button, the phone buttons went away, leaving only buttons related to playing back music. In the same way, the consumer can go into camera mode, with the keys swapping out to keys germane to the function.

Are we using towards any universal interface, asked one attendee? To rueful laughter from the crowd, the answer was: Nope, and if you could develop one, you’d win a Nobel Peace Prize. “We are in the early days,” says Ullmer. “Think about the PC industry. Remember DOS and OSII? That’s where we are now with handsets.”


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Apple Love Fest at Digital Hollywood Panel

Monday, May 5, 2008–Today was the first day of Digital Hollywood, appropriately enough in the heart of Hollywood at the new Highland Center complex. For the next couple of days, I plan to post from the conference (or slightly thereafter)

First up, a panel on the Mobile Platform 2.0 – Establishing the Personalized Video, Music and Communications Experience, moderated by Sharon Wienbar, managing director at Scale Venture Partners, was an Apple love fest.The panel featured speakers from Nokia Interactive (Jeremy Wright, global director of mobile brand strategy) and Motorola (John Hallman, manager of market development for video and mobile television) as well as reps from Universal Music Group (Julie Lee, vp, biz dev) and AOL (Jai Jaisimha, vp of mobile technology and product development). Also present was Rick Doherty, co-founder/director of The Envisioneering Group.

Panelists both praised the iPhone for the fact that “it just works” – and the fact that if it doesn’t, Apple’s customer service will replace it, no questions asked. The 3G phones will kick up the game a big notch, but Wienbar noted that Apple’s 25-year old problem is delivering on time after an announcement.

Mobile phones are also huge in developing nations in Asia and Africa, although the features of an iPhone are not useful for these users. Over time, Hallman said, Nokia and Motorola will look at iPhone features, just as Apple will look at what works in Africa and Asia.

Panelists all concurred that the disruption of iPhone is positive for the industry, even as new features such as the touch-screen moves onto center stage.“That’s what we need – competition and the freedom to compete,” said Wright,pointing to progressive de-regulation. “Everyone has opportunity in the wake of the iPhone,” said Doherty. “We’ll see a flood of applications.” Wienbar agreed that the developer environment is “very fertile.” Currently, because Java- or Brew-enabled handsets are not heterogeneous, Apple has the biggest footprint with 5 million users – and thus the most fertile ground for developers.

And Google’s Android? Will this take advantage of the door opened by Apple? Jaisimha stressed the importance of platform heterogeneity. “Google Android is a placeholder, not a finished toolkit,” said Doherty. More important, said panelists, is that Google and Apple have awakened developers that handsets are “it” [as in, the “it” platform for development], whether Apple or not.

The panelists also talked about LBS (location-based services), which they recognized is in its earliest days in the U.S. market. Although the conversation first turned to privacy concerns (Wright reported that in the U.K., the carriers must seek permissions from users), the focus quickly changed to a discussion of LBS’ biggest competition in the U.S. market: the automotive navigational system. If you’ve got a GPS in you car – and in the U.S. (especially in L.A.), you’re always in your car, why do you need it with your cell phone?

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Can Actimagine Energize Mobile Video?

Power consumption is one of the bugaboos of video on the mobile platform. Video sucks up power, and batteries for mobile platforms have real limits. That’s a conundrum that Actimagine, a French company, says it has solved.

Actimagine’s patented video codec, Mobiclip, offers VGA resolution at 30 fps…for 7.5 hours on a Nokia N73. That’s an estimated four times longer than MPEG4’s 90 minute duration and eight times more than H.264. Mobiclip is compatible with all open operating systems, including Windows Mobile, Linux, Symbian, Brew and Palm OS.

How do they do it? Henri Linde, Actimagine’s president, Americas, defines it simply. “I describe it as changing all the multiplication and division to addition and subtraction,” he said. “That means that because the algorithm’s built on simpler actions, it uses substantially less power.” Mobiclip files are smaller; MPEG4 files need to be 30 per cent bigger for the same picture and sound quality and so consume more memory on a mobile device.

Up until now, in the U.S., Actimagine, which was founded in Paris in 2003, has provided power consumption for Game Boys and Fisher Price toys. In Europe, however, Actimagine has been making inroads into video for the mobile platform, via promotions for Nokia’s N series phones. Nokia offers a DVD-quality film, stored on an Acimagine miniSD card, as an incentive to buy the phone. The user simply inserts the card into the phone and clicks on an icon to play the movie. Paramount and Sony have participated, with movies including “The Da Vinci Code” and “Casino Royale.”

In May, Nokia, Studio Canal and The Phone House offered a 1-GB Acimagine miniSD card of a popular French movie, “Prête-moi ta main,” for 1 Euro, for those purchasing a new Nokia N73 (and later the Nokia N95 and N76). Successful marketing of the handset included an emphasis that buyers would be able to watch the entire full-screen movie without recharging their batteries and, since the film uses only 350 MB, they’d have 650 MB of free memory on which to store photos, music and videos.

That model sounds compelling enough for the U.S. market, but Actimagine has a bigger plan. “We’re going to offer the full backbone to deliver video,” says Linde. “We don’t just want to be a video codec provider, but also offer transaction management, content management and DRM.” Video will live on a server, which Actimagine will download to users’ PCs. The codec player will download with the video content or be embedded in the handset.

The Motorola Media Monster Z8 will have an embedded Mobiclip player and will come with a miniSD card with “The Bourne Identity.” “With Nokia, the player is on the miniSD cards,” says Linde. “With the Motorola, the player is actually in the phone.” Linde also notes that, with the Nokia N series video-out plug, Actimagine provides a cable to play the cell phone content on the TV receiver. At QVGA resolution, a movie won’t look great on your 42-inch plasma, but the basic concept is right on. “You can buy or rent movies on your cell phone and then watch it at night on your hotel TV,” explains Linde.

For now, the download model will continue to develop, says Linde, who also notes that the company is going to carriers with an offer for streaming. The company, which will get a second round of funding this fall from GRP Partners investment fund, is currently in discussion with numerous major content owners.

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New on the Scene: TileFile

WHO: David Bolliger, CEO
WHAT: TileFile
WHERE: Sydney, Australia
WHEN: According to Bolliger, the company has been in stealth mode for the best part of two years. “We’ve done a number of interesting things in Asia leading up to the real deal,” he says.Some early investors, invested in Mixi, the dominant social network in Japan, gave the nascent TileFile a leg up. “We’re focusing on the American and Australian market, just to kick things off,” says Bolliger. “But we have seeds sown in Japan and Korea, which I can’t talk about.” TileFile is funded largely by VC money; Motorola Ventures became an investor in November 15 this year.
WHY: “I’m a filmmaker by training, and I love the new, vibrant Internet with video and photos,” says Bolliger. “But it troubles me that it’s a fractured media experience, with videos on YouTube, photos in Flickr and so on. Yes, you can hyperlink to everything, but hyperlinking isn’t really a great media experience. It’s a primitive media experience compared to what we do offline.”

Bolliger thought it would be great to make video, audio and photos a tile…with a twist. “If the front were the tile and the back were the social network, now you not only have photos or videos but packages, with a media experience in the front and the ability to socialize and make comments with people most closely related to the video.”
TileFile is aimed at the TV, the PC and the mobile phone. Bolliger describes it as “not only content-neutral but location-neutral.” “You don’t need to download any software,” says Bolliger. “The users can organize their own media, the media of their friends, media that lives in the internet, into this paradigm and have a less fractured experience, with maintaining all the social advantages. This is a richer, drag-and-drop way to share content—a next-generation experience.”

If TileFile sounds suspiciously widget-like, Bolliger agrees. “Tile file is a variation on a widget where it’s media-focused. The front is media. Then the back is the people. We’re wrapping the media in the people. You click ‘details’ and it flips over, and you can drill into the various layers depending what was on the front. The problem with widgets is that they exist because people want to make their own combination of different bits of the internet…but widgets are islands. Tile files are more like plates on a sushi train. You can organize them in any sequence, hit play and see all the different media together. When you’re interested in a particular media, you can flip it over and see the social media.”

With regard to TileFile in the mobile environment, Bolliger reports the company already has a “very sophisticated phone application” that hasn’t been released yet.

“The whole vision was that the Tile is good on the small real estate of the phone,” he says. “From the user experience, we’re taking the thumbnail to the next level: social packages. You can use familiar paradigms to greater efeect. When you can look at what you did on your phone on the giant screen, you have nonlinear access. You can drag it to friends on the web as well as the phone.”

The mobile application will be “a high-end experience with a common denominator,” promises Bolliger. “We have the user experience around a TileFile feed, which is a river of TileFiles. If all my friends use TileFile Mobile, I get to see a composite stream of all the new stuff from all my friends. I can comment on the piece of media and forward it. When I find a TileFile I like, if I send it to you, I”m not just sending you the media but the whole social activity around it, and you can get into it. It’s a fully featured TileFile application. Most of what you can do on the internet, you can do on the phone.”

“One of the key things we see happening is that we’re entering an era of web-based messaging for mobile, now that phones are better at dealing with the internet,” adds Bolliger. “Historically phone messages have been dead on arrival. I send an SMS and that’s it. But if I send you a TileFile, then that thing can live on the Web. You can join it later and add layers of description or comment. You can take the code and put it on your blog. The beauty of this approach is the moment it happens on the phone, it also lives on the Internet. So what you did on the phone is immediately available on the web as a TileFile. TileFile is not a destination site like a Facebook or MySpace. It’s an application, so you can combine TileFiles, create files, drag and drop to friends in a media-centric kind of way. Every package has a social layer.”

Bolliger also thinks TileFile has something to offer with regard to the problem of audience fragmentation. “Just as TileFile is looking to deal with the fractured media experience and improve that, we also have the potential to deal with the fracturing of the audience,” he says. “We’re doing a lot of work to make sure we become a sophisticated aggregator of audiences. The Internet, like most societies, becomes either very controlled or very grassroots. The next civilized approach is to say that these things aren’t mutually exclusive.” Bolliger also points out that when the Holy Grail of marketing and advertising is to target consumers with ads for things they want, “the ultimate vision is to bring them the content they care about. “The TileFile feed is media-centric,” he says. “I see what I want to see, I can drill into what I want to drill into. Then I can start to attenuate what reaches me.”

Currently operating as a PC-based experience, TileFile’s mobile application will launch at an unspecified future date.

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