The ghost of 3G, Wi-Fi expansionism and Sony's online ambitions

News Schmooze: Reports of 3G's death may or may not be exaggerated, Palm wakes up and PlayStation2 prepares to plunge into cyberspace.

3G: is it dead or isn't it? If it is, the Schmoozer wishes it would just get on with kicking the bucket so that we can all move on to more productive topics of conversation. In the mean time, the debate rages on. Marty Cooper, who supposedly invented the mobile phone, says 3G is dead -- a very expensive infrastructure that will effectively deliver speeds only slightly better than those of GPRS. Meanwhile, consultants The Thinking Box say that 3G is alive. Consumers want 3G services, and as long as they're reasonably priced, they will snap up things like video phones.
3G is dead, says mobile phone inventor
Person-to-person services to drive 3G growth Meanwhile those in the Wi-Fi brigade have their own solution in the form of ubiquitous 802.11b wireless LAN hot spots, combined in some cases with GPRS handsets for non-stop high-speed connectivity. This has been quick to catch on in America, but in such a big country it will be a while before you can pull out your laptop at an arbitrary Idaho truckstop and expect to instantly download 60GB video clips over the local wireless connection. In the UK, on the other hand, it shouldn't take too much time and effort to completely blanket the entire South-East in roaming radio waves, eager to carry large amounts of data back and forth. For the moment, though, a few branches of various London coffee shops will have to do.
Costa joins Wi Fi hot spot rollout Palm finally got around to producing some new technology, after a few years of sitting at the top of the PDA heap and apparently focusing entirely on supply-chain and case design issues. The new Tungsten handhelds are pretty impressive, with things like Bluetooth and GPRS built into the box, a lightning-fast interface and bright high-resolution screens. It does occur to the Schmoozer, though, that what we are looking at is essentially a Pocket PC that works better. Palm will probably need more than momentum and slightly better technology to escape being smashed to small pieces by the converging forces of Pocket PC, Smartphone 2002, Windows, Exchange and the like, all driven by the Microsoft monopoly. There is a niche in the technological ecosystem for technology that is easy to use, as the Mac OS continues to show, but it always seems to be on the brink of extinction.
Palm finally gets wireless with Tungsten Sony is planning to push its broadband service out in the spring -- if you can call it a service. People who know about these things tell the Schmoozer that Sony's plans are a bit of a mess. Each game maker will have to set up its own service to deal with online gamers, which will mean each game exists in its own island -- different logins, different settings, et cetera, which could be harder to deal with on a console than on a PC. Microsoft's approach of centrally managing everything might be Borg-like, but it could prove the more sensible way of approaching online console gaming.
Sony plans spring launch for European online gaming BT has joined the effort to keep office workers from mixing business with pleasure. Instead of being productive, users are spending most of their time in the office buying frilly dresses on eBay and sending one another pornographic emails, apparently. New software will put a stop to this, perhaps by stopping workers from thinking dirty thoughts. The Schmoozer wonders if software like BT's is the cause of e-commerce sales declining for the first time ever last quarter. Now if only someone would introduce software that keeps British workers from sitting at their desks for 80 hours a week.
BT wages war on 'cyber-slacking'
Online sales decline for first time The News Schmooze is ZDNet UK's irreverent take on the week's news. Send your tip-offs to: mailroomuk@zdnet.com.


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