Nokia’s long-talked-about collaboration with Microsoft, the Lumia 800 smartphone, has finally arrived on New Zealand shelves.
It was well worth the wait. Of the four Windows Phones I have trialled during the past 18 months the others being the HTC Trophy, the LG Optimus 7Q and the Samsung Omnia this is the fastest and the best.
It follows hot on the heels of a slightly lower-spec Lumia 710.
My first question was: “Where’s the battery?” Emptying the box of the accessories and finding the instructions, I found it was integrated into the handset. This means the handset, like the Nokia N9, is about as slim as they get. The 3.7” (800 x 480) touchscreen is black and shiny, and delivers a crisp picture when it’s on.
The Micro-SIM the Lumia 800 uses slips into a SIM tray at the top of the phone and is easy to fit.
Accessories include a rubber sleeve that slips over the handset, protecting it from scratches in your pocket and helping it bounce if you drop it.
You can’t remove the SIM with the rubber sleeve on, but you can connect the USB lead to a power outlet or your computer for charging.
From a power socket, it’s a two-hour charge, and longer from a USB port depending on the power of your PC.
While we’re talking about PCs, you can transfer videos and music too, and from the Lumia 800 using Microsoft’s free Zune software from zune.net. It’s a trendy media player that’s worth a look, even if you don’t have a Lumia 800.
The Lumia 800 handset also comes with earbuds, and Nokia is also about to release a very nice set of padded headphones designed to complement it.
Social media patrons always treat ads as the ultimate evil, forcing major social networking sites to be prudent in running ads. Facebook has managed to run ads without annoying users, but the temptation of increasing mobile ad revenues is now haunting popular sites like Facebook. In the February IPO filing of Facebook, the company hinted on possible monetization of its mobile offshoot like in the form of sponsored stories displayed as mobile News Feeds. The social media giant also revealed that more than half of its 845 million users sign in on their phones, yet the site is not yet maximizing revenues from such visitors.
When Facebook introduced Sponsored Stories last year, desktop visitors barely complained. Such activity updates of your friends would appear anyway even without Sponsored Stories. You see Sponsored Stories when your friends like or interact with the Facebook page of advertisers. Commenting, casting a vote, using a third-party app, playing Facebook game, and sharing a page are delivered as Sponsored Stories. Just as the usual updates you get from your FB friends, Sponsored Stories can be hidden, removed or restricted.
Facebook is expected to trade publicly in May, thus mobile advertising, whether in the form of Sponsored Stories or regular banners, is hard to ignore knowing that it can attract shareholders. In 2011, there were 487.7 million smartphones shipped worldwide, 58.8 million of which were in the fourth quarter; whereas annual PC shipments only reached 414.6 million annually and 20.2 million for the last quarter of 2011. The figures include laptops and netbooks. The annual figure for smartphones increased 63% year-on-year, compared with just 15% growth rate for PC shipments.
Facebooks’ mobile traffic is expected to grow more rapidly than overall monthly visitors in the foreseeable future. It is now apparent that Facebook is under pressure more than ever to tap on mobile revenues as smartphones become the dominant platform to access the site. Emerging countries like Brazil and several Latin American markets are more likely to use smartphones than PCs when accessing the Web. In the US, 69% of smartphone users view the world wide web every day.
eMarketer estimates that mobile ad spending in the US will jump by 80% to $2.6 billion in 2012, compared with $1.45 billion last year. Google and iPhone currently dominate the mobile advertising market, pocketing $750 million and $90 million in mobile ad revenues in 2011, respectively.
Facebook knows subdued advertising better than Twitter. Last year, the microblogging site ran a short-lived advertising platform, Quick Bar, on its mobile site. Quick Bar regularly flashed sponsored Twitter topics when the page is refreshed, which many users found intrusive.
Twitter’s mistake might have served a good lesson for Facebook. Sponsored Stories can easily be mistaken for regular FB updates or news, unlike text ads and banners that are prominently displayed.
Financial Times reported that Facebook’s mobile Sponsored Stories would be rolled out this March. Due to relatively low click-through-rates of mobile ads, some speculate that Facebook would experiment with various ad sizes and positions as it expands its mobile portfolio.
Because Windows 8 will run on laptops, ultrabooks, and tablets as well as desktop PCs, access to mobile networks is important. On the Engineering Windows 8 blog on Friday, Windows president Steven Sinofsky detailed five improvements to Windows 8 that will simplify connecting to mobile networks and managing network connections. Here’s a recap of the changes to watch.
1. Native Drivers and Management: Windows 7 loosely supported mobile broadband, but often required the download of drivers and management software. Just as native Wi-Fi management was integrated into Windows XP, mobile broadband will have native management in Windows 8. And to prevent the problems associated with downloading drivers, Microsoft worked with mobile broadband hardware partners to develop the Mobile Broadband Interface Model (MBIM) standard, which provides a driver that will work with all of its offerings, and will be kept up-to-date through Windows Update.
2. Carrier Support: Windows 8 will automatically detect your mobile broadband carrier based on your device or SIM, and configure your device to connect to your account. If you don’t have a data plan, a Connect button will take you to your desired carrier where your options are listed and available for signup. Once connected, Windows 8 will provide a counter to show how much data you’ve used on your various connections to help avoid bill shock, especially important if your business is trying to get by with a small mobile data plan.