Happy July 4, everyone. This is a short week, at least in the United States. That doesn’t mean that nothing is happening; it simply suggests that the same of activity that occurs during a normal week is squeezed into fewer days. So, here are the highlights from a short week.
The Firefox OS Bows
ReadWrite reports that the first two smartphones running the Firefox operating system have been released. They are from Alcatel and ZTE, and the story says that the phones will be inexpensive and aimed at developing markets. However, the piece also reports that they will be offered by Deutsche Telekom in several European countries and by Telefonica in Spain, which are developed markets.
Despite that uncertainty, the story does a good job of describing what makes the Firefox OS different. Instead of using a native operating system such as Apple’s iOS or Android, the Firefox OS uses HTML5. Writes Dan Rowinski:
Mozilla’s challenge was to bring the Web to smartphones in such a way that users can interact with their devices in the same way that “native” operating systems could. That meant tying hardware functions like making phone calls, using the camera and GPS, to the Web using HTML5, not specific code languages like C++ used by Apple’s iOS apps.
A commenter writes that iOS’ preferred language is Objective-C. Whether or not that’s the case, the point remains that Firefox and the two vendors are breaking ground with the introductions.
HP: Back in the Smartphone Fold
Computerworld and other sites report that an HP executive has told the Press Trust of India that it is working on a smartphone. The executive – Yam Su Yin, the senior director of consumer PC and media tablets for Asia Pacific – wouldn’t say which operating system the new device would use.
The story provides the high points of the relevant history. HP offered the Palm Pre smartphone and TouchPad tablet, which were based on the webOS operating system that HP acquired from Palm in 2010. HP closed its mobile division in 2011 and contributed webOS to the open source community. The story didn’t point out that this certainly seems like it happened a long time ago.
Digital subscriber line (DSL) technology was invented as a way to extend the life of the conduit – copper – that the telephone industry was, in essence, stuck with. That was a decade ago. The engineers went to work and have pushed it far beyond its expected lifespan.
The latest technique expanding DSL is vectoring. It’s a noise cancellation technique that is well explained at CircleID.
There is a good deal of activity on the vectoring front. ABI Research said that vectoring is catching on in a big way. The firm says it recently was chosen by Deutsche Telekom and Telecom Italia and will be used in some form by China Telecom. It also is being tested by British Telecom. ABI says Australia also is a good target for the technology, though there appears to be nothing tangible to report. Meanwhile, PCWorld reports that Telekom Australia is testing vectoring in conjunction with a new approach to DSL known as G.fast.
Change, the One Constant
Network planners must think short- medium- and long-term. The idea is to closely watch trends and anticipate whether they mean substantial and permanent change or are irregularities in demand that will fade away. This feeds into million-dollar decisions on capacity upgrades, equipment purchases and, indirectly, marketing and product development.
eMarketer reports that video publisher Ooyala analyzed patterns and found surprising results:
A March 2013 analysis by the company of its customer and partner database found that digital video viewers were spending substantially longer periods of time watching live video than they were VOD content. In fact, those on PCs spent an average of 40 minutes watching live video on a per-play basis, compared with 3.15 minutes for VOD. Those on tablets spent an average of 16 minutes with live content, and only 3.6 minutes with VOD. A gap also existed among those watching on a mobile device.
Another and perhaps even more significant ongoing change is the erosion of landlines. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in June released research suggesting that more than 40 percent of households were wireless-only for voice at the end of 2012. That percentage continues to grow, the CDC found. If verified, these findings will affect how enterprises and, in particular, telecommunications companies move forward.
Beyond Google Glass
And, finally, a story from ExtemeTech. I was tempted to go with the piece headlined “Are Human Head Transplants Possible?” That would have involved reading the story, however, and I didn’t want to have nightmares.
So, instead, I chose a story that is a tad less creepy: Researchers from École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne and the University of California San Diego are working on contact lenses that can magnify images by a factor of 2.8. The story outlines the process, which features a contact lens that is only 1.17 millimeters thick. The rest is suitably ingenious. The bottom line is that the miniaturization of technology has reached a point at which all sorts of amazing things are possible and, in fact, are on their way to becoming routine.