Posted by: James C. Roberts III in telecom, mobile on
Mar 15, 2009
Media are full of stories touting the power of mobile devices. The smartphone is now the poster child for convergence: TV shows soon to come to your iPhone from local TV stations, maps of the nearest pizza places and the like. Well, not so fast.
Literally, 3G is not so fast---certainly not as fast as claimed. The 3G networks-not to mention the still-functioning 2G grid---do not work that well. An article in the Saturday edition of the New York Times points out that the systems function at well below advertised speeds. Data are delayed for long periods. One woman quoted said that she did not receive more than half of her text messages. And then there is the tricky matter of phone calls: The 3G systems keep dropping them. Has anyone recently cruised around Manhattan in a taxi and tried to maintain a signal? In Manhattan, self-proclaimed center of the Universe.
There are many reasons cited for the non-performance, but, basically, the systems are overloaded with the demands of new smartphones. It is a bit of a mess. And 4G, or LTE, recently touted at the Mobile World Congress, may simply add to this complexity. The carriers are investing many billions to upgrade their networks but it won't be fast enough-I mean soon enough. Besides, where will they get all that money? Credit markets have dried up. Well, they'll get it from us, in higher rates. (That's another story, though: In Europe, the EU is fed up with exorbitant mobile rates and is legislating caps.)
For my inaugural blog with the CTC I thought I'd explain my point of view, which is to mix pragmatic idealism with a positive sense of skepticism. And I will do what I can to toss in the international perspective, one frustratingly missing from so many technology discussions in the US.
Huh? What does this mean? Well, I love hearing all the enthusiastic pronouncements of three-screen convergence (which started in, oh, 1994) but I always love to start musing about all the , well, things that seem to act like magnets repelling each other.
Sooo, it is not that my skepticism will be negative, reactionary or contrarian, because I love some of the things either heading down the proverbial pike or already at my offramp (OK, OK, so I couldn't resist extending the metaphor)-like the Amazon Kindle or its soon-to-be competitor(s), among them Plastic Logic. I love the concept of the netbooks but my experience thus far with three of them (one from ASUS and two from Acer) has been less than stellar (read: want to throw them out the window). Still, $200-400 is not bad.
So, speaking of international and therefore travel, let's think about the (non) convergence of what we take on our business trips. I met a guy in the airport and we started to do an inventory of what he had to carry on his trip. It is worth repeating: