I've been blogging so much about mobile phones, but the truth is I'm not sure what's going on back home. After I noticed I had been Scriptdotted (thanks Dave), I saw the link to Alan Reiter's post on his Wireless Data Weblog which is actually on my daily mobile news list, but I hadn't checked it out yet today.
Alan's LONG post today was specifically about what it would take to add keyboarding to your mobile phone and mobile PDA like functionality, but what I got out of it was an idea of what's out there in the American phone market. I've been so Europe-centric lately that I have really no idea what's going on back home. I blogged back in December that I was shocked to see T-Mobile everywhere when I was in Oregon. I didn't realize they had entered the U.S. market so completely (Catherine Zeta Jones? Wow.)
I also was surprised at how positively HUGE Dave's new phone is and all the contract stuff he's talking about. The phone weights 130 grams! Holy crud, that's close to the monster Nokia 3650 that I'm coveting and it's not even a smartphone. I guess it is color... but still.
To make a comparision in ease of use, price and size, here's what I did a couple days ago here in Europe. My bosses back in the U.S. asked me to pick up a couple phones for the people who come over on trips because it'll be so much cheaper than roaming from the U.S. So I went to Vodafone and they had an offer for the Alcatel 310 for 59 Euros. So I walked into the store, picked up two 85 gram phones and walked out in 10 minutes with the phones ready to go, that easy. The phones both have pre pay GSM chips in them, which provides a sort of anonymous account, that can be charged up by buying cards with a special number to dial, or via an ATM machine. Every time I go get money out, I top up my phone while I'm at it... It costs $0.28 a minute via the one plan to call anyone in Spain and $0.60 to call the U.S., and most importantly, calls you receive are free, even internationally. This simplicity and price point is why every man, woman and teenager in Europe has a mobile phone.
The other thing is a reminder about how popular the T-Mobile SideKick - a.k.a. Danger Research Hiptop - really is. It's sooooo cheap!! I mean a 16 meg PDA that does all it does for only $99 with service (why would you want one without?) is really amazing. And it runs on GSM/GPRS, which is very cool, but I wonder why in that case I haven't seen any here in Spain??? The thing that excites me is if this phone takes off so big that it creates yet another mobile platform after Symbian, Palm and MS, it'll create a real need to either 1) kill off a couple platforms (likely) or 2) use Java on all the platforms as a developer-agnostic toolset (we'll see). The Sidekick/Hiptop definitely needs a tech-rev though... color screens, Bluetooth, expandable memory, MMS, etc. But I definitely like the little thumb pad under the screen, seems more practical than Nokia's solutions so far.
This is neat stuff...