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The News – 10/4/02

In this Issue:

Recommended Reading

I realize this is the only newsletter you’ll ever need, but if you want more in-depth detail, check out:

Stan Hustad’s
The Coaching Connection

Management Signature's
The Express Read

I Want These Phones
The second part of the Why You Need to Get Hip to HIPAA series will appear in a future SNS

Regular readers who are familiar with my tendency to be, how shall we say, less than sanguine about the efforts of our favorite software monopoly will be shocked to read on.

Pocket PC Phone EditionI actually think the Microsoft Pocket PC platform may finally be not only useful, but actually preferred over Palm OS devices. What has caused this change of heart? A couple of developments, but mostly the current Pocket PC phones and the upcoming AT&T/Microsoft collaboration on a device using the software giant’s Smart Phone and .NET technologies.

While I remain unconvinced that .NET is at this point anything more than FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt – the traditional three horsemen of the Microsoft apocalypse), if the new devices can build upon the already impressive current crop of Pocket PC phones, the forthcoming Smart Phones should be winners.

The $549 T-Mobile (formerly VoiceStream) device features a speakerphone and vibrating alert and is a full-featured Pocket PC. Built by the same manufacturer that makes the HP iPaq, the device is thinner and less bulky than many previous Pocket PC incarnations and has a bright color screen. Of course it synchs with MS Outlook and includes Windows Media Player, MSN Messenger, Pocket Internet Explorer, and Pocket Excel and Word. This means you can open email attachments you may receive. T-Mobile has partnered with mobile applications provider Handango for additional applications.

You can access any POP3 email account and also get an add-on for AOL mail. The company claims you can use the PDA features while speaking on the phone. The phone features are nicely integrated into the various applications. For example, whenever a phone number is underlined in an email or a document, you can tap it to launch the phone app.

As with most wireless carriers, T-Mobile has various data plans you subscribe to in addition to your voice services. The company’s plans range from $2.99 for 1 MB a month up to $59.99 for 20 MB. Doing some quick math, it becomes obvious that the company doesn’t cut their best data customers a break: The cost for 20 MB is 20 times the cost of 1 MB.

Although many users are enthusiastic about the phone, others have complained that it crashes several times a day and must be rebooted. This is obviously not good, as people have come to expect phones, even cell phones, to just work, all the time. Users report real world data speeds ranging from 14Kbps to 43.6Kbps.

Verizon offers the $629 Audiovox Thera Pocket PC phone that has roughly comparable features, except it bundles in MS Money, MS Pocket Streets Weblink, and MS Reader Weblink.

The device has not been reviewed as positively as the T-Mobile phone, however. One complaint is that you must dial stored phone numbers using an application called Watcher, which is automatically populated with the data from Pocket PC's Contacts, rather than dialing directly from the Contacts list. The phone works either as a speakerphone or with a headset. You can’t hold it up to your ear easily.

Data access costs 10 to 40 cents per minute, although the company does offer an unlimited access plan for $99.99. Data use in one review averaged 40Kbps on Verizon’s 1xRTT high-speed data network, but coverage is still spotty and unfortunately doesn’t include Minnesota or most of the West.

We’re all still waiting for phones based on Microsoft’s Smart Phone technology. Let’s hope the well-known Windows trait – reboot once or more daily – doesn’t continue to plague these devices.

Microsoft (Mobile Security)

Briefly Noted

  • Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.: SNS is two years old! Pop a cork!

    I’ve put up the Nanotechnology Resources directory.

    Also, check out the article I wrote for the Taylor Harkins newsletter entitled, Do you hate your customers? It continues the theme from my earlier article, analyzing the media industry’s response to file sharing. My next article for them will be on Short Messaging Service (SMS), so watch for it soon.

    Finally, the CTOMentor wireless white paper, You Can Take It with You: Business Applications of Personal Wireless Devices, is available at ITPapers.

  • Cable Companies Threaten to Sue Broadband Subscribers: I was waiting for this shoe to drop. My TWC RoadRunner contract specifically says I can’t run a server on my cable connection. But I think it’s a bit hazy on sharing my connection wirelessly with my non-subscriber neighbors (not that I’m crazy enough to do that, mind you!)

    Time Warner Cable of New York City in July gave 10 customers less than a week to stop providing wireless local area network access to their system to anyone within 300 feet. Both TWC and AT&T Broadband expect to send lots similar letters to their customers, mostly targeting people whose locations are advertised by grassroots groups like NYCwireless and San Francisco's Bay Area Wireless Users Group. Such groups identify and share information online about publicly accessible Wi-Fi hot spots.

    Do the cable companies hate their customers? “Individuals utilizing (their subscription) in this manner to carry out criminal activity would be able to do so in an anonymous manner,” the Time Warner Cable letter warns. “In such circumstances, when law enforcement is attempted to trace such activity, the trail would end with your account.” However, Anthony Townsend, a spokesman for NYCwireless, points out, “It's very shortsighted that they are developing such a hostile relationship with early adopters of their own technology.” You be the judge.

  • War Chalking Update: In a previous SNS I talked about a practice called war chalking, where people would mark with chalk on sidewalks outside the locations of unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots. I was and remain a bit skeptical about this rather low-tech practice – I mean, really, what if it rains? Nonetheless, there’s a Web site dedicated to “Collaboratively creating a hobo-language for free wireless networking.” It’s interesting to read the founder’s defense of the practice, especially in light of the previous story.
    Warchalking Legality FAQ

  • Put Off Wi-Fi Purchase Till Fall: Aberdeen Group recommends that consumers refrain from wireless purchases until late fall because multi-standard chipsets are just starting to be introduced. This means you should be able to pick up consumer-grade wireless hotspot equipment that features 802.11a and b and maybe even g. Intel has announced an 802.11a,b combination chip set, and Atheros is currently sampling an a,b,g chipset.

    Why do you want multi-standard equipment? Well, 802.11a and g give you 45Mbps versus 11Mbps with 802.11b. And the 802.11g standard adds some additional security to the woefully inadequate Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) standard of 802.11b. When you consider that interference – from things such as microwave ovens – competing traffic, and additional security can ratchet 802.11b speed down below 8Mbps, you can see the attraction of the faster protocols. The longer you wait, the cheaper multi-standard equipment will become.
    Aberdeen Group

  • Wireless Entertainment Center: Well, if you can stand one more Wi-Fi tidbit, read on. Intel has developed something it’s calling the Home Media Adapter, an 802.11 wireless receiver acts like a bridge between the home PC and the TV-centered home entertainment center. It converts the output from a PC into analog forms that plug into TVs and stereos and allows the PC to transmit content all over the house. Aberdeen says we can expect products in the $80-$100 range by Christmas from PC makers and traditional consumer electronics companies. This is likely to be a hot product, since it taps into the Wi-Fi trend.
    Aberdeen Group

  • Dell Entering PDA Market: Rumors surfaced this past June that Dell may be placing a big order for a PDA from offshore manufacturers. The speculation was fueled by a report by market analysis firm ARS, which has a nice summary of PDA developments in Q2. Dell has recently started distributing other Dell-branded products, such as projectors and printers and seems to be aiming at countering the new, bigger HP’s influence in the market. In fact, the move into printers may have been spurred by HP who, once they found out Dell's plans on July 18, cut off all shipments of products to Dell immediately.

    Despite losing an important partner, Dell is pressing on. Wistron, an Acer manufacturing subsidiary, won the deal to supply Dell with 1.5 million PDAs in an online auction that apparently ruffled some suppliers’ feathers. Dell will likely sell its color-screen Pocket PC based PDA for $299, and aim it squarely at HP's $599 iPaq (formerly the Compaq iPaq).

    The device might be ready by Christmas. However, Rob Enderle, hardware analyst with Giga Information Group, said he put the odds on Dell having its name on its own PDA by the end of the year at “a little better than 50-50.” And a Reuters report in mid-September said Dell was now targeting mid-2003.

  • CEO Chats About eCommerce: Terrell Jones, founder and former CEO of had many interesting answers to questions in a recent Forbes online CEO Chat. I’ll include a few of them over the next few SNS issues.

In this environment of low corporate spending, how do you convince management to invest in eBusiness?

One of the messages I preach is to just look at their own kids. 80% of college students have made a purchase on the net vs less than 50% of everone else. 100% of college kids are wired. 20 % of todays students started computing between the ages of 5 and 8 How are these kids going to buy when they leave school? On the net for sure. They will be multi modal shoppers. 32% of net shoppers have shopped in all three modes phone, web and catalog. That will continue to rise. Miss this at your peril!

The Wayback Machine – A Year or Two Ago in SNS
SNS: Enlightening and Frightening for a Fifth of a Decade!

Two years ago

The lead article in the September 29, 2000 SNS was Faster, Better, Cheaper Bandwidth . . . and it concerned a report that Nortel was readying a system that could pump 1.6 trillion bits per second through a single fiber. I speculated on what this glut of capacity would mean in the future. I think, with the current telecom meltdown having no end in sight, we’re finding out.  Also, in a bit of déjà vu, this week in a presentation I quoted a Kevin Kelly speech about the Sears Home Electric Motor. I first wrote about it thusly:

This portable but expensive device could power all manner of labor saving devices. Kelly asserted that people of that time couldn't imagine what was to come: motors disappeared into the fabric of the home support systems. It's certainly true. Rather than a single, expensive, valuable resource that needs to be conserved and maximized, domestic motors today are in everything and we never think about them. Try taking an inventory of all the motors in your house. Did you remember to count any mechanical clocks?

My point two years ago was the same as my point this week: Eventually computing and data communications will disappear into the fabric of 21st century life just like motors and the telephone and electricity did back in the 20th century.

Also two years ago, "Won't You Sign In Stranger?" reported that the US digital signature law went into effect. Do you have yours yet?

One year ago

The lead article in the October 2, 2001 SNS was Wireless Almost Usable, about interface guru Jakob Nielsen’s slight change of heart about the usability of wireless devices. In a report on the DEMOMobile conference, he noted that most new apps were being shown on the Compaq iPaq. In the intervening year, Pocket PC-based devices have gained a couple of share points, and now seem to finally be positioned to really challenge the Palm OS for supremacy. Nielsen also noted Palm’s apparent inability to capitalize on its commanding lead, a trend that is still woefully obvious. Perhaps the impending rollout of the new Palm OS, ported to the StrongARM processor, will reverse that trend.

Another of Nielsen’s observations was that cheap humans add value to the network. This is an ever-accelerating trend. For example, spammers face a problem in getting free email accounts from Yahoo and others: To sign up, you need to type in the numbers you see in a graphic on the page, or decipher a slightly distorted English word (halp for help, for example). The normal means a spammer has to obtain an account uses an automated process that currently can’t be made smart enough to overcome these defenses. So the spammers are enlisting humans and inserting them in only that one step in the process. A dupe signs up to assist the spammer, hoping to get a few trinkets or free goodies. Said dupe then spends an hour or so being presented with only the signup screen that needs his or her attention. The unwitting bozo spends a few seconds deciphering each screen, and the spammer gets a new email account with which to bombard all of us with junk. Thanks a bunch, dude!

Such workflows make some pundits wonder if at some point, we’ll just be cogs in the machine, a la The Matrix. It could happen.

Just the Right Stuff™

If you subscribed to CTOMentor’s Just the Right Stuff™ newsletter, over the past few months, you’d have received news nuggets like the following, along with expanded analysis. Your personalized Information Needs Profile would determine which of these items you’d receive. For more information, check out CTOMentor.

  • New Handspring Models; Springboard Slot Ditched
    Handspring announced the $299 color Treo 90 which lacks its proprietary "Springboard" expansion slot. In its place is an industry standard Secure Digital expansion slot. The 4 oz. device is essentially the Treo 180 communicator without the wireless phone and jog-dial and will compete against Palm's $279 8MB color m130 and Sharp's Linux-based Zaurus SL-5500.

  • SMS Leads the Market
    The GSM Association said Short Message Services have been a terrific success throughout the world. According to the group, 75 billion text messages were sent globally in the first quarter of this year alone, an increase of more than 50 percent over the same quarter last year. The total number of messages sent this year should hit 360 billion, up from 250 billion sent last year.
    RCR Wireless News

  • Internet Privacy Bill Introduced
    Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) introduced a sweeping Internet privacy bill, legislation that would also cover wireless firms with Web connections. The bill enables state regulation of Internet privacy to be pre-empted and lawsuits could be filed by consumers for privacy violations. Hollings was also behind an effort to strengthen the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998, making a bad law worse, as reported in SNS.
    RCR Wireless News

Still news to you? Get this Stuff as it happens, not months later. Subscribe to CTOMentor today. Charter subscription discounts still available.

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Can’t Get Enough of ME?

In the unlikely event that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog. It’s the fashionable thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web page. If you’d like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do, you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows you FTP access, and the free software from This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts to your Weblog.

I’ve dubbed my Weblog entries “Stratlets”, and they are available at Let me know what you think.

Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of the latest emerging trends.

In Memoriam

Gerald M. Ellsworth

March 14, 1928 - July 5, 2003

In Memoriam

Jane C. Ellsworth

July 20, 1928 - July 20, 2003