Free claims competitors hitting below the belt
ARCEP, the French telecom regulator, has said it is going to inspect low-cost wireless provider Iliad's backbone network to make sure it is compliant with its bandwidth licensing requirements. The action takes place after Iliad's competitors raised complaints about Iliad's network performance and customer service. Iliad, which operates its wireless service under the Free name brand, denied the claims, discounting them as false rumors.
Free may have cheapest iPhone usage plans yet
Free's new mobile division has become the fourth major carrier in France to offer the iPhone. The Iliad-owned group plans to carry the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S on January 27 with one of the least expensive plans yet. At 20 euros ($25) a month for a 16GB iPhone 4S with unlimited voice and texts as well as 3GB of unfettered data before a cap, Apple's smartphones would cost roughly half as much or less to own as a phone with an equivalent plan.
Vivendi buys Vodafone stake in SFR
France's Vivendi said on Sunday that it was buying Vodafone's 44 percent share of SFR. The deal, worth 7.95 billion Euros ($11.32 billion), gives it complete control of the carrier. It and Vodafone will keep running SFR as a joint venture for three years, after which Vodafone would have to either talk to another provider or enter on its own.
Palm Pre 2 coming to Canada's Rogers?
The source code on the Canada section of the official Palm Pre 2 site reveals that the new device will be available at Canadian wireless provider Rogers, MobileSyrup reported on Wednesday. Exactly when it arrives hasn't been revealed, but HP did say it will be in the coming months. While the source code, which isn't visible without knowing how to access the behind-the-scenes code of the site and is therefore not visible to regular web surfers, misspells the carrier's name as "Rodger's", but there is little doubt what is meant.
Palm Pre 2 and webOS 2.0 launched
HP fired back in the smartphone arena by launching the Palm Pre 2. The design is the first to run webOS 2.0 and supports Just Type's ability to perform commands even before launching an app, Stacks to group together apps by their associated tasks, enhanced Synergy support and Exhibition apps that work only when the phone is on a Touchstone dock. The release is also the first to support a beta of Flash 10.1.
Palm Pre 2 confirmed by in-person French photos
HP's upcoming Palm Pre 2 just received further confirmation today through a set of live images that confirm its existence. The design spotted by MobiFrance is superficially similar but appears to have a larger screen and several improvements to its design and build quality. Its front is now flat and ridged, and shouldn't crack as easily; a charger door has also been pulled, and it may have a matte front.
Palm Pre 2 tips up on SFR early
French carrier SFR accidentally gave away HP's smartphone plans in a major fashion with a page for the Palm Pre 2. The promo suggests speed is the focus with a much faster 1GHz processor (up from 500MHz) with the same 512MB RAM as the Pre Plus. It adds that webOS 2.0 will ship with it and will make Facebook a heavy focus, with push messages, status updates and Facebook Chat woven into the OS.
Says iPhone 3G slows down 'significantly'
A French cellphone carrier, SFR, is now officially advising people against upgrading an iPhone 3G to iOS 4. The firmware "significantly slows" menu navigation on a 3G, the carrier says, adding that the upgrade is "irreversible." The upgrade should in fact be reversible, but only by more technically savvy iPhone owners.
Samsung says Galaxy S could oust iPhone in France
Samsung today vowed to take back a lead in cellphone revenue in France from Apple's iPhone. Although it still has the most popular phones by sheer volume, shipping 39 percent (4.5 million) of phones in the country, the Korean firm is upset that Apple now represents 26 percent of value in the market where Samsung has 25 percent. The Galaxy S and 14 other smartphones due to launch this year would help get Samsung back in the lead by September.
Palm webOS update adds official PDK support
HP's new mobile group Palm has started pushing out webOS 1.4.5 to phones on Sprint in the US and SFR in France. Both the Pre and Pixi now officially support the public, finished version of the PDK (Plug-in Development Kit, which allows fully native code in webOS' namesake web apps. For the Pixi and Pixi Plus, the update represents the first time it can support the 3D gaming existing on the Pre in a rougher form since January.
Eye-Fi gets automatic sign on for Boingo and more
Eye-Fi today added both a new card and a major expansion of its support for hotspot cards. The 4GB Geo X2 combines the geolocation support of the original Geo with the Class 6 (6MBps) transfer speeds, 802.11n Wi-Fi and "endless" memory of other X2 cards. It's targeted primarily at Mac users using Aperture 3 or iPhoto '09 and will be available only through Apple stores in May for $70.
As many as 2m iPhones in France for 2009
The iPhone is already the fourth most popular phone make in France with just two years on shelves, according to data from GfK. Estimates from the analyst group say Apple will have shipped between 1.8 million and 2 million iPhones to France by the end of the year, or 8.5 percent of all phones delivered to the country. It would be eclipsed only Samsung, Nokia and LG, all three of whom are more established and sell many more models.
Carriers race to foster last-minute iPhone sales
French carriers Orange and SFR have announced significant discounts on the iPhone in the run up to Christmas. Orange is now selling the 16GB iPhone 3GS for €59, a reduction from €149; the 32GB model is priced at €179, while the 8GB iPhone 3G costs just €19. To qualify buyers must accept an Origami contract, which starts at roughly €41 per month.
iPhone non-exclusive helps Apple, hurts RIM
The elimination of the iPhone's exclusivity to Orange in France has resulted in "more than double" the sales of the device and dealt a blow to the BlackBerry, according to research notes issued recently. Estimates from Bernstein, Strategy Analytics and others report twice as many iPhones being shipped in the summer quarter as in the spring due specifically to Apple's handset being readily available at Bouygues Telecom as well as SFR. That added exposure is thought to have directly impacted RIM as customers at the new carriers had a new, major alternative to the BlackBerry line.
LG to out three WM 6.5 handsets soon
LG on Thursday announced it will ship three new Windows Mobile handsets over the course of the next few weeks. By the end of 2010, that number will grow to 13 Windows Mobile cellphones. One of the phones, the GM750 (pictured), will feature a touchscreen interface, another will be a touch slider with a QWERTY keyboard and the third, the GW550, will sport a QWERTY bar form factor. Each will be initially launched in limited markets, including Europe, the US and Asia, before making a global debut.
HTC Magic at Voda Spain
Vodafone Spain today got the edge on its other European counterparts by saying it would launch the HTC Magic early. The carrier's countdown has the phone shipping at midnight Tuesday and will make it the first country to get the handset, which is the second-ever Android phone and the first sold outside of T-Mobile. Unlike the G1, the Magic uses Android 1.5's on-screen keyboard alone for input and uses this to significantly slim down the design.
Compal scaling back MIDs
DigiTimes reported on Wednesday that Compal Electronics reduced the budget and other resources for mobile Internet devices (MIDs) as the company believes the future of the market segment is uncertain. The report cites unnamed industry sources for the information, and Compal itself has confirmed that some of its MID focus was shifted into netbook development. It will continue to ship MIDs in smaller volumes.
HTC Magic Official
HTC today after a brief run-up introduced the Magic, the second-ever Android device and the first to rely on an iPhone-like virtual keyboard thanks to Google's impending Cupcake update to the software. The upgrade slims the device down without shrinking the 3.2-inch touchscreen or sacrificing the remaining hardware controls, which still include a trackball for using the phone one-handed. Cupcake should also bring video capture and stereo Bluetooth support, though whether these reach the final device is unknown.
Verizon commits to LiMo
The LiMo Foundation on Monday announced six new wireless providers have committed to release LiMo Platform based handsets in 2009. The Linux OS-based phones will become available from Verizon Wireless, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, SK Telecom, Telefonica and Vodafone sometime in 2009. The open-source Linux operating system in the devices will be based on the latest version of the LiMo Platform.
SFR sells Archos 5 3G+
The Archos Internet tablet, introduced earlier this summer, is now available for the first time via a wireless provider, France's SFR. The device is the Archos 5 3G+ and includes a 5-inch touchscreen, built-in access to 3G wireless data networks and Wi-Fi. Included with the device is a 30GB hard drive, the smallest of the range that also offer 60GB, 120GB and 250GB capacity disks.
Archos 3G Players in 2008
Archos will be one of the first to provide a dedicated portable media player with cellular Internet access, the company has revealed during this week's Mobile World Congress show. While short on information, the news indicates that at least one device in Archos' next generation of players will include 3G or better services that allows it to connect to the Internet anywhere it can receive an appropriate signal from a cell tower. The feature should provide extended access to the web through the Opera web browser included with the company's higher-end players.