Google vs. iPhone vs. Asia vs. U.S. cellular providers

Kevin Delaney’s Wall Street Journal Online blog entry from May 31, 2007, on “The iPhone Needn’t Fear Google, Yet” points out that Google’s cell phone strategy is not to have a phone product per se, like the iPhone, but rather to evolve a services platform.

With the impending iPhone launch, anyone who’s been using cell phones in Asia the past several years has to wonder, as the Japanese technology business magazine ASCII did in February, what the big deal is. Browser phones without physical keyboards? That’s already been mainstream there for some time. Sliding screen content with your fingernail? Same deal. 2.5G connection speed using EDGE for wireless data? Are we missing something? 3G has been operational for some time in Japan. Why would you want Apple’s phone at three times the price of 2004 model web phones on eBay? Well, because it will have an apple logo on it. Still, probably at the top of the desired improvement list is 3G, according to Ben Charny’s “Apple Changes the iPhone, But Critics Want More Still,” June 18, 2007 WSJ Online.

On the other hand, Apple’s entry is great because it will help loosen the silo death grip of most senior management in U.S. cellular service providers. They know their business model will have to change, but nobody wants to blink first. Managers who aren’t getting paid to put the current business model at risk are actually letting themselves be quoted, according to the Wall Street Journal’s lead story on June 14, 2007, to the effect that they don’t want to blow owning the silo this time like they did with the Internet. Hello? Some large companies can survive forever without realizing what business they’re in. Verizon thinks they’re going to make money as content providers instead of as service providers?

Meanwhile, the Chinese and Indian cellular markets are rapidly becoming 5 times the size of the U.S. market. I kind of think that the market-driven model over there, where the handset, the service provider, and the services platforms act, sell, and interact with the customer quasi-independently and quasi-cooperatively, is what will eventually take hold in the U.S. as well. So in the Asian context, Apple’s handset is nothing new. But in the U.S. market, it’s the break in the dike.

ZTE to start on 3G Pilot in China

It’s been reported in Light Reading that ZTE (中兴通讯) and a consortium of other companies are in the final stages of concluding implementation contracts with China Mobile, the largest cellular provider in China, for year-long pilots of a Chinese 3G cell phone system based on TD-SCDMA. It appears to still be a goal that a TD-SCDMA system will be running in Beijing and a few major cities in China in time for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Perhaps both TD-SCDMA and HSDPA will be deployed in China on a scale sufficient to move equipment and handset makers well down the experience curve and gain flexibility in their strategic positioning in the global cellular market. Now that NTT DoCoMo’s 3G in Japan has over 30 million users and 100+ U.S. metro areas have had Cingular’s 3G service available in the U.S. since last fall, it will be interesting to see if the Chinese market finds any new approaches, especially open-source based and driven by user-content, to accelerating development and use of 3G applications.

Great Opera, part 1

I’ve been fortunate to see some fabulous new (or equivalent) opera performances during the past few years, in addition to lots of great performances of work by Mozart or Richard Strauss. By equivalent, I mean they speak to the present or are in the present because they’re timeless. I’ll start with three.

Gluck, Orphée et Eurydice (1762-1774)
Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, November 1999. A reopening celebration, which we were unaware of until standing in front of TV cameras at intermission, after a major restoration project. The only tickets were something like 5th balcony. Everyone up there took turns in the front row, from which you could only see the far side of the stage. But it didn’t matter because it was a Robert Wilson and John Eliot Gardner production of transcendental simplicity and the sound was unbelievable. I just noticed on Amazon that this production is available on DVD.

汤显祖, 牡丹亭 (Tang Xianzu, Peony Pavilion, 1600)
Spoleto USA, Charleston, June 2005. After seeing a middle segment (one three-hour segment of six segments) of Chen Shizheng’s production with Qian Yi as Du Linian, at Lincoln Center in July 1999, the next chance to see the whole thing was at Charleston in 2005, still the same production, which in the meantime had played Milan, Copenhagen, Paris, etc.. After the final evening I was lucky to spot Qian Yi at a pub and be able pay homage to her performance and singing, perhaps the equivalent of if Dawn Upshaw sang most of the female parts in The Ring Cycle. One of the more amusing episodes in the opera is where acrobatics by a group of bandits (the bandit’s wife making a few asides to the audience) frightened a small flock of ducks out of the pond, over which the stage platforms were mounted, and into the audience, calling for the services of the “Duck Wrangler” (a titled task in the production).

Osvaldo Golijov, Ainadamar (2005)
Santa Fe Opera, 2005
There needs to be at least one contemporary opera in a list of contemporary opera, so I’ll start with Golijov’s Ainadamar (fountain of tears), a three-part vision and interpretation of the poet Lorca, who was executed early in the Spanish Civil War. Dawn Upshaw and Kelly O’Connor were the lead voices and fabulous. One of the thrills of this opera was Kelly O’Connor in the “pants role” singing the part of Lorca. Another was Golijov’s (or librettist David Henry Hwang’s) idea of wrapping together three historical layers – an as-I-lay-dying reminiscence by Lorca’s favorite actress and muse (Xirgu – Dawn Upshaw), Lorca in the 30’s, and the fictional context of Lorca’s drama in which Xirgu played, Blood Wedding. The music was wonderfully Spanish-North African influenced. The only flaw was that the opera was short.  There is a review by Philip Kennicott with photos in the Washington Post for 2005-8-15.

Restructuring the Global Wireless Information Market

Probably the four biggest potential changes that I think will have an impact on the global wireless information market over the next few years are 1) wifi and other short-range wireless, 2) moving cell phone-based information applications onto open source, 3) the size of the Chinese and Indian markets, and 4) 3G cellular data.

Five years ago Japan and Scandinavia were the “happening” cell phone markets. While most people in U.S. couldn’t conceive of typing emails on cell phones with their thumbs, there were already 30 million people in Japan using cell phones for messaging and web-based services. It was just more convenient to have Internet access on your phone. And in the Scandinavian countries everyone was doing SMS short messaging. Cell phone markets worldwide were quite different from each other, primarily due to one combination or another of culture, policy, and the state of prior communications systems.

Today, we’re a long way from homogenization, but potential changes over the next few years go across local markets and will have a huge effect.

Wifi in cell phones may just mean lower and lower average cost for more and more value on cellular service. As users get more and more for less and less, market growth may be fastest for the cellular providers that are quickest to incorporate wifi. It’s a chance for new leaders. Current leaders like Verizon in the U.S. and China Mobile in China may resist breaking down their “silo” business model where they want a percentage of any monetary transaction that happens over their service, like using a cell phone to buy using PayPal.

As for open source, I think it will rapidly become the way cell-phone based, enterprise-style information flow is done — things like field service dispatch, on-site sales quotes for customers, basic CRM applications — will go to open source because the quality and turn around time for innovation will be better than for close-source products. If improvements can be made overnight, and there are millions of users and thousands of developers networked on projects, the application space can grow pretty quickly. That’s great for the cellular providers because right now their enterprise application business is weak

The bottom line on China and India is that whatever happens there is going to be influential everywhere else. With 500 million and 150 million cell phone users as of the end of 2006, China and India are not exactly out of room to grow, either. So what are some of the things that are different there? Motorola sold 1 million Linux-based cell phones in China in Q2 2006, a $50 phone with low-power electrophoretic display by Motorola started shipping in India at the end of 2006, and there are plenty of good wireless engineering design shops in China and Taiwan experimenting with different feature sets and capabilities on shorter and shorter development cycles.

Finally, 3G and China in a certain sense are one and the same topic. Because China has been stalling on 3G service to give time to develop a perhaps licensing-independent 3G technology – TD-SCDMA – Chinese business will be in a position to control the market. The size of the market means everyone else will have to be a player on TD-SCDMA.



最好的解决办法呢。我觉得就是加密的闪存盘,我特别喜欢的是一个开放源代码加密程序,叫做Truecrypt,应用于Linux和Windows的造作系统两个都可以。在下我试试描写Truecrypt最方便的用法。总的来说,就是加密闪存盘的一个所谓”volume”,然后把你的文件放在这个volume上,这样子你可以拿这个闪存盘,随便用于你办公室的电脑或者家里的电脑或者移动的电脑。这样子,每次开始用这个闪存盘跟另外一个有Truecrypt加密系统电脑,Truecrypt加密系统先让你轮入闪存盘上被加密的volume的密码,然后你每次把文件放在闪存盘上或者用你的Text Editor或者Word processor编辑闪存盘上的文件,Truecrypt加密系统就会自动的加密或者解决,不需要再次轮入密码。

安装(GNU/Linux Ubuntu 6.10):
>truecrypt -V // 假如Truecrypt不在或者不是4.2a以上,作sudo apt-get install truecrypt
// 连接你想用的闪存盘于你的有Linux造作系统的电脑的USB端口而
>ls -latr /dev // 试试看最后被打的pluggable device (plugdev)叫什么名子(例如“sdb1”)。 也可以用dmesg
>sudo fdisk /dev/sdb // 创造1个给Truecrypt加密系统用的partition
>sudo truecrypt -c /dev/sdb1 // 在这个partition上创造Truecrypt要用的volume
// 我选的encryption是“Twofish”而hash是“Whirlpool”

// 连接闪存盘于USB端口
>ls -latr /dev // 试试看最后被打的pluggable device (plugdev)叫什么名子(不一定是“sdb1”)
>sudo mkdir /mnt/sdb1 // 如果没有/mnt/sdb1
>sudo truecrypt -u /dev/sdb1 /mnt/sdb1
// 用Truecrypt系统来mount这个device
// Truecrypt系统只要问你Linux系统的密码和Truecypt volume的密码

// 现在你可以随便继续用这个volume上的文件,比如:

>ls /mnt/sdb1/myfile.txt // or edit, etc.

// 工作做完的时候:
>sudo truecrypt -d /dev/sdb1 // 以Truecrypt系统卸载加密的文件系统
// 在电脑的桌面上的一个“cdrom“图标上的右键菜单中你就要选“eject”。 现在可以断开你的闪存盘。

>sudo truecrypt -vl // Truecrypt系统的volume的属性看得出来.


How to Use an Encrypted Flash Drive

Like everybody else, recently I’m finding I need to use more and more web IDs and passwords, as well as user names and passwords for credit card and banking information. If you look at this in terms of a computer file, it amounts to more than 30K of information. Furthermore, if this kind of material weren’t in electronic form, it would be pretty inconvenient. Why? One reason is that this is information that is frequently changing and needing to be edited. The second reason is that, if this information were not electronic, it might take up 20 paper pages, in which case you can’t just hit ctrl-F to go find something, so it might take you five minutes to locate a particular password. The third reason is that there’s no practical way to encrypt information you’re going to keep on paper, so you’d better hope you don’t lose it!

What’s the best solution to this? I think it is an encrypted flash drive. I particularly like an open source encryption program called Truecrypt, which can be used both on Linux and on Windows operating systems. In the following, I try to describe the most practical ways of using Truecrypt. In short, it’s to encrypt a “”olume” on a flash drive and then put files onto this volume. Then you can just take the flash drive and plug it into your office computer or your home computer or your mobile computer. This way, each time you start to use the flash drive with a different computer that has the Truecrypt encryption program, the Truecrypt encryption system will first require you to enter a password for the Truecrypt-encrypted volume, and then automatically encrypt or decrypt files, as you put them onto the volume, or open them from there, in a text editor or word processor, without requiring entering a password again.

Installation (GNU/Linux Ubuntu 6.10):
>truecrypt -V // If Truecrypt is not installed, or is not version 4.2a or greater, do: sudo apt-get install truecrypt
// Connect the flash drive you’re planning to use to the USB port of your Linux OS computer
>ls -latr /dev // check to find the name of the pluggable device (plugdev) hit most recently (like “sdb1”). You can also do this with dmesg.
>sudo fdisk /dev/sdb // Create a partition intended for Truecrypt use.
>sudo truecrypt -c /dev/sdb1 // On this partition, create a volume intended for Truecrypt use
// I chose “Twofish” for the encryption and “Whirlpool” for the hash.

Each time you use it with a computer that has Truecrypt:
// Connect the flash drive to a USB port
>ls -latr /dev // Check to find the name of the pluggable device (plugdev) hit most recently (like “sdb1”).
>sudo mkdir /mnt/sdb1 // If there is no /mnt/sdb1
>sudo truecrypt -u /dev/sdb1 /mnt/sdb1 // Use the Truecrypt system to mount the device
// The Truecrypt system will ask for the Linux system password and the Truecrypt volume password

// Now continue doing whatever you need to with the volume’s file system, such as:
>ls /mnt/sdb1/myfile.txt // or edit, etc.

When finished:
>sudo truecrypt -d /dev/sdb1 // Dismount the volume’s file system through the Truecrypt system.
// Right click on the “cdrom” icon on the computer desktop and select “eject” from the menu list. Now you can disconnect the flash drive.

>sudo truecrypt -vl // To access properties of the volume in the Truecrypt system.

That’s it. It’s really very simple. Aside from these few things, the only other thing you ought to do is to make a secured backup.

Linux Projects Should Totally Concentrate on 3G Cell Phones

With the introduction over the past month of the Cingular 8525, the Cingular Samsung Blackjack (both running Windows Mobile 5.0, incidentally), plus several LG and Samsung flip phones sold by Cingular, such as the SGH-ZX20, as the first 3G (UMTS -> HSDPA) cell phones in the U.S., it seems obvious that Linux projects should totally focus on 3G, because that’s where open source will bring the greatest value proposition for consumers, enterprise application buyers, cell phone makers, and wireless service providers.

The Cingular 8525 is made by HTC in Taiwan (宏達國際電子股份有限公司 -> 宏達電, the 8525 is the HTC P3600 phone), known by the XDA-developers project as the “Hermes” — the Hermes Linux port wiki on is the focus for Linux effort on that phone.

As far as I know, a Blackjack Linux project hasn’t been started yet.
An article from a year ago on by Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton, a prime mover of the projects, on “Hacking HTC’s Windows CE phones with Linux – a progress report,” is still a good summary of the issues and motivations for hacking Linux on cell phones. It just all adds up to creating more value faster at lower cost.

Just as it’s obvious that open source should concentrate on 3G cell phones, it’s also becoming obvious that open source can help open the flood gates by swarming to help one wireless service provider in each major national market gain competitive advantage through open source, just to get the system out of balance. Looking at this thing in terms of competitive moves, that’s something open source can do but the competition can’t, so that would be good. I’d suggest Cingular in the U.S., NTT DoCoMo in Japan, China Mobile in China, and Bharti Airtel in India.

Maybe a wiki to facilitate 3G focus and carrier concentration would be helpful.

A Business Professional Goes Shopping for Cell Phones

Objective: Light, slim, long battery operation, sync with contacts and calendar on the desktop.

Considered: Nokia E62, Blackberry 7130c, Cingular 3125, Samsung Blackjack — all at Cingular.

I did not include the Cingular 8525 because a) she won’t care about fast Internet connections (802.11g and 3G network) until she’s used 2.5G (GPRS/EDGE) for a while, b) it’s too big, and c) it’s too expensive.

I did not include Verizon because even though the cellular service on Verizon seemed good the past two years and Verizon was top rated for service when I switched to them from AT&T (gnashing of teeth) the instant number portability happened, Verizon said they were getting off BREW and opening up their phones “real soon” two years ago, but didn’t, and I was never able to find a second retail sales person who knew anything after the first one quit.

I did not include Nextel, since acquired by Sprint, because my wife’s organization was not happy with them for their failure to provide any initiatives to help them improve their value proposition.

The Blackjack was cool but too short on battery operation, per forum comments, plus she doesn’t think she needs email and web on a cell phone, yet, plus the massive Cingular and Samsung marketing campaign for the holiday shopping season had just started, but hadn’t been noticed by her. The E62 and the Blackberry, like the Blackjack, sort of fit in the “Q envy” category but after putting hands on the phones it was clear that the Cingular 3125 — the lightest, thinnest, longest battery operation flip phone that could handle syncing — was the best choice for her needs.

Cingular 3125 Customization Tips

Cingular 3125

My wife got a Cingular 3125 ( review) Friday after Thanksgiving. It’s a cool phone and very practical for people who “just want a phone” with long battery operation that can sync with their desktop Outlook contacts and calendar, especially if they don’t have (or have gotten over) Blackberry-envy.The 3125 is the first flip phone running Windows Mobile 5.0. It’s made by HTC in Taiwan, which has a number of phones with Linux projects on, but not yet this one, known as the “StarTrek”.

The following are customization tips. A lot of it is general Windows Mobile 5 topics rather than 3125-specific. None of it is a big deal. It’s just a new customer sitting down with the phone and saying “Could you find a way to…,” again and again at each turn for an hour, to someone who says “Maybe, let’s see…,” until a dog has been turned into a kitten.

Two useful forums for howto information are:



  • How to use Activesync to put files onto the phone or to manipulate files on the phone:
    Start Activesync (comes on a CD with the phone; installs to a Windows PC) by connecting the phone, wait until it finishes synchronizing, click on “Explore Device” -> navigate around in the Windows Explorer that opens up and drag from the PC desktop to the phone directory as needed.
  • Clutter reduction: Using Activesync, create an “other” folder in \device\Windows\Start Up and then drag into it all the other programs besides Calendar, Contacts, Settings, Win Media Player, Communications, a few others, reducing 3+ screens of icons to 1 screen.
  • How to get rid of the promotion of Xpress Mail on the home screen: Settings -> home screen background: pick “Windows Default” or “Windows Simple.” All the screens that start with “Cingular…” have the promotion.
  • How to customize the home screen wallpaper: In GIMP on Linux or Photoshop on Windows, make a 320×240 pixel JPG file, use Activesync to put it onto the root of the file system, then in Settings -> home screen background, select the file name.
  • “What happened? I can’t make a call/receive a call”: If the home screen says “Phone is off,” go to Communications and click on the phone icon, which will have an “x” on it, to remove the “x”
  • “Registry editor” needed for some configuration hacks below: PHM Registry Editor: Google it, download it (as a .CAB file, I think), use Activesync to put it on the phone, use the phone “file manager” to select and run the .CAB to install it.
  • How to turn off start up and shutdown sounds: use PHM Registry Editor: HKLM -> software -> HTC -> startup -> WAV –> set to none; and HKLM -> software -> HTC -> shutdown -> WAV –> set to none
  • How to change the name of the phone that shows up in Activesync: use PHM Registry Editor on HKLM -> Ident -> “Values” -> “Name” -> change
  • How to get sounds: for custom rings, etc. .MP3 files that are placed into the “sounds” folder are supposed to be available for ringtones, but I found that “ringtones” in Settings also has access to sound files in the root directory. I also found there was no need to convert to .flac or .mp3 if you’re in a hurry and don’t care about the space savings; a .wav music file worked just great.
  • Browser short cuts: I put all the predefined links she wasn’t figuring on using into an “Other” folder and added instead:
    • // cell phone-oriented weather
    • google
    • PDX arrivals // Portland airport arrival schedule
  • How to delete one large set of contacts and put on another:
    • On the PC, copy Outlook.pst (the Outlook data file) to a save backup location in case of error. Outlook.pst is in Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
    • Then, in Outlook, delete all contacts.
    • Now sync with the 3125, thereby deleting everything on the 3125.
    • Now move the new Outlook.pst file to the …\Microsoft\Outlook directory, overwriting the old file.
    • Now sync with the 3125, which will put all the new Outlook contacts onto the blank 3125.

    The same approach can be used with Schedule and Tasks. Seems like it should be possible to select all and delete in Contacts, but online searches just turned up people looking for ways to do it. Seems like it would be possible in Contacts -> menu -> 6 SIM manager, which allows you to select all and to delete, but all I could get it to do was to scroll rapidly through the entire contact list.

  • Quickest way to do sound file conversion: on Linux, use flac -s $in -o $out // $in and $out would be, for example, the wav to flac filenames
  • How to clear storage including contacts, schedule, email, music, photos, settings [think about it for a while before doing it, because that’s pretty much everything]: Start -> Accessories -> clear
  • How to do a soft reset: Hold down both soft keys + power
  • What are alternative browsers: Minimo (phone version of Firefox) might work. Opera Mini is great on the Motorola A780. A forum note suggested installing the version for the LG 225. [On 2006-11-28 Opera introduced Opera Mini 3.0; need to check it out and see if it’ll run on the 3125 WM5 environment.]

More Linux cell phones

FIC (First International Computer 大众电脑, Taipei) and Trolltech (Oslo) have announced cell phones that bring open source Linux closer to reality on cellular.

The FIC Neo1973 uses Linux 2.6.17, a Samsung ARM9 processor, a simple case design with a 640×480 2.8 inch touchscreen, and a UI based on a widget kit FIC’s own “OpenMoko” group wrote using GTK2+. There are open APIs to connect to the proprietary GPS and radio parts of the phone. Like the Motorola Linux phones, it patches quad-band GSM/GPRS multiplexing into Linux, but does so using open standards.

The Trolltech Greenphone is more of a development phone for Trolltech’s “Qtopia Phone Edition” UI platform. Using Linux kernel 2.4.19 and based on a Marvell (ex-Intel) XScale PXA270 (ARM) processor, it has a 320×240 touchscreen display. The price is $695 and you have to get it as part of an SDK.

The Greenphone and the Neo really have different purposes, because the two companies’ situations are very different. Trolltech is a software component supplier to many cell phone producers and apparently would like the Greenphone to shorten their customers’ “time to money” for each new phone, which would strengthen Trolltech’s position as a “platform” (QPE is also on Windows phones). FIC, on the other hand, is a computer device maker, as well as contract manufacturer and designer, with nothing to lose in cell phones. So their strategy seems to be to do, as fully and as quickly as possible, whatever is necessary to get legions of open source developers cranking on their hardware. Worst case, they fail with the end-user product but build a strong basis for supplying bigger producers who have better customer access. I guess you could say the Greenphone hands out matches on the street but the Neo lights a fire in a closet.

By linuxdevices count, there are now over 50 (mostly cell phones) Linux devices. Of these, I’ve used the NEC-Panasonic phones as rentals in Japan and they’re great. I also like my [not really] open source Chinese Moto A780. But if you were doing an enterprise application in the U.S. today, it would be pretty hard not to check out the Neo.

$350 for the Neo and a SIM card on a GSM cellular service like Cingular in the U.S. and you’re in business doing sudo apt-get for everything that runs on hundreds of millions of Linux systems.

ハロウィーン: 携帯電話の写真


最近二歳半になったから、孫息子はどこにも小旅行をすることが好きだと思っています. また携帯電話の親指族人になりました.


Halloween: photo by cellphone

This cute pirate is my grandson, looking like he’s enjoying Halloween in Tokyo-Mitaka with my daughter-in-law and son.

Now that he’s turned two and a half, he’s been enjoying lots of excursions, but without turning into a cellphone “thumb tribesman” yet.

As for his Halloween experience, since the world-renowned Studio Ghibli is not far from Mitaka-Kichijouji station, you might think the area probably has a lot of spooks, witches, and pirates, but Mitaka is a great town. You can take a walk and go past cabbage stands.


两三个礼拜前有两个朋友到我家来, 原来是因为想研究十九世纪的书法作品 (我有一个觉得可能是鸦片战争时代有名的民族英雄裕谦在二十一岁的时候的书法).

然后谈到中国现代音乐,用MP3的技术从网上拿下来一些非常有名的女歌手。 想不到这两个女歌手随然有名,我随然非常喜欢中国琵琶, 二胡, 古筝,唱哥, 昆剧等那些种的音乐, 还没听过现代最有名的女歌手的歌曲, 给我介绍王菲邓丽君的音乐。


Deng Lijun, Faye Wong, and Song Dynasty Poets

A few weeks ago a couple of Chinese friends came over, originally with the idea that we would do some research on a 19th-century calligraphy (which I think absurdly thought was written when he was 21 years old by Yu Qian, later a national hero in the First Opium War).Later, we got to talking about Chinese pop music and downloaded some mp3 files off the web by very famous Chinese singers, which I had somehow managed to remain clueless about, even though I really like Chinese pipa, erhu, guzheng, kunqu opera, etc., and thus I was introduced to the music of Faye Wong and Teresa Teng [Deng Lijun].

According to the Chinese version of Wikipedia, one of Faye Wong’s most famous songs, “May you live long,” is based on a lyric “When the moon shines brightly” by the Song dynasty poet Su Shi.

A780 GNU/Linux cell phone

Motorola A780

Motorola has the first more generally successful GNU/Linux-based cell phone in China and Europe, and reportedly sold 2 million Linux-based phones, including the A780 and the newer A1200, in China in Q3 2006. Using MontaVista embedded Linux 2.4 and Trolltech’s Qtopia, the quad-band GSM A780 started shipping in August 2005. It’s reviewed on and

I recently picked one up second-hand on eBay from Hong Kong by way of LA. Once you download the Opera Mini browser to improve web performance, the 150 kbps EDGE (rarely falling back to 50 kbps GPRS) Cingular connection for data, such as email and web browsing, is nothing to write home about, but certainly ok for limited use, like looking up entries on Wikipedia while waiting for lunch in a restaurant. Fortunately, gigabit web phones are coming. Meanwhile, people are poking at the GNU/Linux side of the A780.

Using information assembled by Dino Kern at, I set up a telnet connection into the phone that works over Bluetooth or USB. It’s pretty cool to make the connection and issue dmesg and ls -latr to see what’s up on the phone, but it’s not really a true open source environment, yet.

Motorola probably could profit hugely from market leadership with open source phones (Japanese companies NEC, Panasonic, and NTT Docomo are also active in this space, as are Chinese companies Zhongxing tongxun [ZTE] and Datang) but I don’t think you can say that Motorola’s strategy is “open source” today. They’ve been building needed technology and talking around the periphery of open source for several years now, without making the management decision to “go native,” as noted in June by Eugenia Loli-Queru, editor of The official Motorola strategy appears to be defensive — the party line is that application developers should write Java applications on Motorola’s J2ME platform. Kinda booring!

Meanwhile, Harald Welte and others are working to create a flashable, open-source Linux 2.6 environment for the A780 and its successors through the OpenEZX project. The, Opie, and OpenEmbedded sites also have related information. It will be interesting to see what happens with Linux on (and around) cell phones.