March 2003


This is a very turbulent time in world events. Regardless of your feelings about how we reached this point, the USA and UK are presently engaged in battle in Iraq, and many are in harms way… both military personnel and innocents. How does this relate to wireless? It shouldn’t really. But today it was reported that US Rep. Darrell Issa, who represents a district in southern California, has been encouraging a change to post-war strategy. According to reports, the U.S. Agency for International Development intends to install a GSM wireless network in Iraq after the hostilities have ended.

Mr. Issa, however, sees a flaw with that plan.

According to Issa, the plans call for the use of GSM air-interface technology, and that is a problem. ‘If European GSM technology is deployed in Iraq, much of the equipment used to build the cell phone system would be manufactured in France, Germany and elsewhere in western and northern Europe. Furthermore, royalties would flow to French and European sources, not U.S. patent holders,’ he says. Instead, Issa wants the agency to deploy CDMA technology, which was developed by San Diego-based Qualcomm. He urged the agency to use ‘American-developed’ CDMA cell phone technology.

I understand that representatives especially see their role as bringing as much money to those they directly represent as possible, in this case Qualcomm. But this whole thing makes me sick. This is not a political issue or American vs. European issue. Let the people of Iraq get something that’s actually useful, a system that’s interoperable with their neighbors.

Normally I would not look to a politician to understand anything technical. And this is truely proving the point in this case. Mr. Issa - please stick to something you know about. Leave CDMA vs. GSM alone.

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In January, Siemens announced a new brand of ‘fashion accessory phones’ called XELIBRI. The idea is that they have limited functionality but radically different industrial design making them more fashion accessories rather than strictly the business-end of cellphones. The idea would be that people would need multiple phones, like shoes, to match all of their fashion ‘needs’.

Apparently, Siemens is trying to carve out another niche market (taking changeable face-plates to the next dimension), and that’s a fine thing. Word is that the four models are being built by different ODM’s, such as Microcell.

Their new web site, https://www.xelibri.com/com/ is up and running now and taking pre-orders for the first four devices. After a brief tour of the site, however, I can tell that I’m clearly not supposed to be around these devices and I’m not hip enough to even ‘get it’. I wasn’t sure if the site was supposed to be ultra-cool or just insulting, and it seems almost like a strange parody on a previously conservative company.

“The trousers are sharp, the shirt’s just fine, the shoes are dapper and the watch strap used to be a crocodile. But the question remains, will the PCD (Personal Communication Device) match your magnificence? Pretty important if your’re (sic) doing the rounds of the clubs tonight…”

I guess if you’re in touch with the Christina Aguilera lifestyle, then this would be pretty important to you. So far, sounds pretty fashionable.

“Our well paid scientists have developed technolgies no-one ever thought would exist ‘Personal Communication Devices’ (PCDs) that use unique ‘conversation through air technology’. Just take an XELIBRI PCD. Dial a number that corresponds to that of another device : the owner of which can be almost anywhere, indoors or out, in good or bad weather. Then wait one moment. When they answer you can talk freely and without inhibition. Check your hair in a mirror and dry your palms on your backside, because you are about to meet tomorrow!”

We’ll leave my hair and backside out of this… but doesn’t ‘conversation through air’ sound like basic cellular service that’s been around since the mid-1980’s? Are these partygoers taking one to many illicit substances at the clubs that they’ve become unaware of cellphones’ ability to communicate indoors or out, regardless of weather???

“In return for a substantial pile of money, David LaChapelle has now shot the first Xelibri Calender. The result is no mere collection of pictures. Rather, images to take your breath away. Stunning PCDs (Personal Communication Devices), worn by fairly good-looking people in mundane situations.”

I am always looking for another calendar featuring fairly good-looking people carrying their phones in mundane situations… or was that mundane people in fairly good-looking situations…

“Move the mouse over XELIBRI 4 and see the close up. Note: Women may find this process arousing!”

OK, now we’ve just reached the point where either they think their target market is made up of complete idiots, or else someone was drinking just a little too much good German beer at the PR firm.

I suddenly care a lot less whether these phones are ever actually released.

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One of stories from 3GSM last week concerned various announcements for software enabling Moblogs - where mobile phone users can update their Web logs (Blogs) by SMS or MMS. The carriers are certainly interested, since every new use of MMS allows them a new stream of revenue for moving the bits.

Another susposed trend is audioblogging, posting of audio clips instead of or with text. This would seem to be exceptionally appropriate application for cellphones. But there’s something about actually hearing a voice that changes the equation somewhat. I’m sure that there’s some good and interesting uses for this, but you can’t really skim through an audio clip. It also takes a good bit more work to transmit and receive audio than the written word.

Will this mobility allow more expression or creativity than before? Hard to tell…

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