Omio News Blog

Monthly Archives: April 2008

SMS = Stinky Message Service

The Institute of Sensory Analysis and Marketing Consultancy in Göttingen (ISI) and the Oberhausen-based specialist for interactive services Convisual have patented a smart-card-esque chip designed for mobile phones.  The idea is to let users send seasonal smells to loved ones (flower scents on Mother’s Day, cinnamon at Christmas) and add a sensory element to interactive games.

We’ll have to wait one or two years before the threat of receiving stinkbombs on your iPhones, but they promise to be affordable and compatible with all major handsets.

Can Samsung bring Mobile TV to the masses?

samsung p960

The East has been au fait with mobile TV mobile phones for some time, but watching TV on a phone has failed to take on in the West. There’ve been some attempts, such as the ill-fated Virgin Lobster 700TV, but no handset has managed to crack this elusive market. Will Samsung’s P960 succeed where others have failed?

The Samsung P960 is a good looking grey slider, aimed at European consumers. It supports both European TV standards (DVB-CBMS and OMA-BCAST, as I’m sure you know) and boasts a 2.6-inch QVGA TFT screen. For those of you who enjoy multitasking, it even lets you watch two channels at the same time.

I’m enjoying the promo pictures for the phone. Smug, generically European-looking guy wearing impractical jacket? Check! Pretentiously-shaped glass of crap beer in front of him? Check! List of European alcoholic stalwarts on a chalkboard behind him? Check! Boy, Samsung sure know Europe.

Samsung P960 promo1

The Samsung P960…. resting on a bike chain…

Samsung P960 promo2

You can almost smell the culture oozing from this photo.

Samsung P960 promo3

Source: Gizmodo

3G iPhone launched tomorrow?

tmobile memo

TimoNews have apparently managed to get their grubby paws on an internal T-Mobile memo which discusses the release date for the 3G iPhone. According to the memo, it’ll launch in NYC tomorrow and will be in over 20 major markets by the end of the year.

Excitement for the 3G iPhone has been dampened by the rumour that the first phones won’t be using the 3G network for data, only voice. This is in order to offload acapacity from their older network. So we can look forward to “great call quality” and “more network availability” but no sweet, sweet data.

Source: TimoNews

Win Flava Flav’s Heart In A Pie Fight

tv games

While most licensed games are generally inferior on most consoles, they make up some of the more enjoyable mobile gaming experiences. For example, the highly-acclaimed ‘CSI’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ games. You also get a few oddities like ‘Mystic Meg’s Palm Reader’, which reads your palm and some imaginary tea-leaves.

As if that wasn’t enough, the US is providing some more televisual crossovers: we’ll soon be treated to a ‘Flavor Of Love’ game, where players get the chance to win Flava Flav’s heart with “pie fights, sky writing, and water gun battles”. Sadly there are no screenshots for this epic title. Also coming soon ‘Dancing With The Stars’ (the US version of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’) – and in the shot above, we can see the presence of both dancing and stars, making it more true to the title than the TV show.

If you want some homegrown games, look no further than ‘The Crystal Maze’, which has you shooting, jumping, puzzling and getting-annoyed-at-mazesing. And ‘Dr Who’s Top Trumps’ which I think speaks for itself.

Blyk exceeds 100,000 subscribers in the UK

blyk logo
Six months before it was expected to do so, Blyk has exceeded the 100,000 subscriber mark in the UK. If you haven’t heard of Blyk, it’s an MVNO which rents airtime from Orange and utilises Nokia Siemens Networks. In exchange for free minutes and texts, Blyk shows its subscribers advertisements. What this means is that a totally ad-funded service has been reasonably successful. All those naysayers who claimed that no self-respecting user would be interested in receiving free stuff in return for looking at adverts, consider your invitation to Blyk’s party revoked.

Source: textually

Discretion is the better part of valour, say Vodafone

People of the world, stop talking about personal things in public! A study commissioned by Vodafone has found that over 70% of all workers “talk business on their mobile phones in public, with one-in-five talking about business-critical subjects such as sales leads”. If that wasn’t bad enough, 15% admitted to “openly discussing confidential new products or services whilst travelling”. Think this doesn’t matter? Think again. 26% of the sneaky buggers who responded admitted that they have actually followed up on a lead they received whilst eavesdropping on another person’s public call. What conclusions did Vodafone draw from this study? Individuals should utilise more discrete methods of communicating in public, such as texting, emailing or carrier pigeons. That last one might be a lie.

Source: textually

No ‘Snake’ In Graz


While Australia is in love with the mobile, its semi-namesake Austria is making up for it with an anti-phone backlash, so if you’re heading there for a summer vacation get in all the games of ‘Snake’ you need before you go.

Siegfried Nagl, the mayor of Graz, Austria’s second largest city, said “I know I insulted the cell phone goddess a little,” for his attempt to crackdown on public phone usage. All commuters must now keep their phones on silent mode to stop irritating ring-tones and unnecessary chatter. While France’s SNCF rail company has operated “zen zones” in select compartments aboard intercity TGV bullet trains (similar to the “quiet carriages” on Virgin Trains in the UK), this is one step further.

Given that Sweden’s ‘cell phone free zones’ were scrapped after 10 months, it’ll be interesting to see how long this initiative can last.

NB: Any search for a light-hearted image from the terms “austria” and “evil” failed, so here’s a jolly picture of an actual Austrian, presumably having gone a bit crazy due to the lack of phones in his little town.

Advance Australia’s Fares

Strewth! Its a well-known piece of trivia that Australia has more sheep than people (possibly up to 10 times as many) but now mobile phones are starting to overtake the population size too.

If you head to the land down under you’ll find over 21.26 million phones in a population of 21.29 million. But if you want to use a public phone, you’ll be sharing with around 400 other people. Experts and sly cell-phone promoters accredit this growth to the rise of 3G services (plus the deactivation of many remote phone booths).

Meanwhile, China’s mobile phone user-base reached over 574 million this March. Mobiles are officially taking over the world.

Will the Touchscreen BlackBerry kill the iPhone?

touchscreen blackberry

I know, I know, I’m a hypocrite. I complain that every new touchscreen handset is promoted as an “iPhone killer”, yet I can’t stop posting about them. This “iPhone killer” story is particularly interesting because it’s about that behemoth of the mobile phone world, BlackBerry.

RIM CEO Mike Lazardis isn’t a fan of touchscreens. In a
New York Times
story about how RIM is reacting to Apple’s assault on the mobile phone market, Lazardis is quoted as saying “I couldn’t type on [the iPhone’s glass screen] and I still can’t type on it, and a lot of my friends can’t type on it”. Despite their lord and master’s misgivings, RIM is still hard at work producing the BlackBerry touchscreen. RIM engineers have dubbed the long-rumoured touchscreen BlackBerry the “the A.K. – for Apple Killer”. Brave words indeed, RIM engineers.

The NYT article also revealed that BlackBerry’s tactic is to stick close to carriers. This is the opposite to the approach adopted by Apple and Google, who are trying to “dislodge the carriers from the nexus of the North American wireless market”. BlackBerry partner with 350 carriers around the world, and they often sell heavily discounted BlackBerry handsets. Apple sells the iPhone from its own stores and calls the shots with its carriers, offering them comparatively stingy deals. Google has been (unsuccessfully) bidding for wireless spectrum this year, in an attempt to force carriers to be more open to allowing a variety of handsets and internet services on their networks.

BlackBerry’s problem seems to be that they don’t know which market sector to appeal to. The traditional BlackBerry customer wants a business phone which is highly functional but doesn’t necessarily have all the bells and whistles (e.g. games, applications etc.). Apple has shown that there is a big market of potential customers looking for a business phone with a bit more pizzazz. Perhaps the touchscreen BlackBerry will offer exactly that.

Portable Cellular Booth

portable cellular booth

Worried about the lack of privacy when you use your mobile phone? Nick Rodriguez’s art project may be exactly what you need. You can see a video of his “Portable Cellular Booth” in action here. The video’s pretty good, but if I saw him in the street I’d still probably wish bad things upon him.

Source: MAKE