Taliban Threatens Afghan Operators

By Evan Koblentz

Taliban operatives will attack cellular towers in Afghanistan if wireless carriers in the fragile country don’t turn off their networks at night, the AP and Reuters each reported.

“Since the occupying forces stationed in Afghanistan usually at night use mobile phones for espionage to track down the mujahedeen, the Islamic Emirate gave a 3-day ultimatum to all mobile phone firms to switch off their phones from five in the afternoon until seven in the morning,” the wire services quoted Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf as stating, from an unknown location.

Carriers in Afghanistan include Afghan Wireless Communication Company, Areeba, Etisalat and Roshan.

A representative for Roshan, in New York, said such threats are not uncommon but that insurgents rarely, if ever, follow through.

Roshan CEO Karim Khoja lectured about telecommunications security at the CTIA Wireless 2006 event. You can view his speech here.


Nokia, Qualcomm Consolidate Two Lawsuits

By Teresa von Fuchs

Nokia and Qualcomm agreed late Friday to consolidate two of their multiple pending patent infringement lawsuits; the two have agreed to combine their arbitration case in Los Angeles with a legal case in Delaware and agreed to halt any further potential litigation.

The issues that will now be decided in Delaware are part of an ongoing legal battle between the two firms that heated up when a technology licensing agreement expired last April. Although consolidating even two of the more than a dozen cases filed on three continents seems like a step in the right direction, Nokia said the case in Delaware is “unlikely” to resolve the overall licensing issues between the two companies.

The judge in the Delaware case has set the court date for July 21.


Morph Demos Nanotech Mobile Devices

By Teresa von Fuchs

As part of an exhibit at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, Nokia demonstrated the possibly flexible future of mobile devices. Morph, a joint nanotechnology venture between the Nokia Research Center (NRC) and the University of Cambridge, is demonstrating how future mobile devices might be stretchable and flexible, allowing users to transform their mobile devices into radically different shapes. It demonstrates the ultimate functionality that nanotechnology might be capable of delivering: flexible materials, transparent electronics and self-cleaning surfaces.

“Nokia Research Center is looking at ways to reinvent the form and function of mobile devices; the Morph concept shows what might be possible,” said Bob Iannucci, chief technology officer for Nokia, in a statement.

Professor Mark Welland, head of the University of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering Nanoscience Group and University Director of Nokia-Cambridge collaboration added: “Developing the Morph concept with Nokia has provided us with a focus that is both artistically inspirational but, more importantly, sets the technology agenda for our joint nanoscience research that will stimulate our future work together.”

The "Design and the Elastic Mind" exhibit will be on display at MoMA until May 12.


Stability in Pictures, and Now in Money

By Evan Koblentz

Morpho, a Japanese startup building image processing software for mobile devices, received an influx of $1.5 million from Nokia Growth Partners, the companies said today.

The investment is the first in a Japanese company for Nokia Growth Partners. Funds will be used to expand Morpho globally, officials said.

Morpho’s current products, MovieSolid and PhotoSolid, help users take stable pictures and videos on cell phones. Image stabilization is not a new field, but traditionally it’s found only in high-end cameras and camcorders. The company’s founders came from the University of Tokyo in 2004 and are working on more advanced tools such motion tracking and stroboscopic methods.

There is no public list of which handsets use Morpho’s technology.  However, Nokia isn’t alone – other investors include NEC, NTT DoCoMo and Panasonic, all listed on Morpho’s English Website.

Nokia Growth Partners is based on Menlo Park, Calif., and is the investment arm of the Finnish telecommunications giant.


T-Mobile Completes SunCom Acquisition

By Teresa von Fuchs

T-Mobile USA completed the acquisition of SunCom Wireless on Friday. The acquisition enhances T-Mobile’s network coverage and adds more than 1.1 million customers in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee,  Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The company says it now offers services in 98 of the top 100 markets nationally.

“We look forward to offering our new customers in the Southeastern U.S. and Puerto Rico T-Mobile's industry-leading customer service, quality national network and unique personal communications products and services that help customers stay connected to those who matter most,” said Robert Dotson, president and CEO of T-Mobile USA,  in a statement.

The FCC approved the acquisition earlier this month.


LinkedIn Offers Mobile Professional Networking

By Teresa von Fuchs

Professional social networking site LinkedIn has launched a mobile version of its free service, which will be compatible with BlackBerry devices, iPhones and other mobile devices. LinkedIn currently has more than 19 million members; the company said it hopes the mobile offering will help expand the service. Unlike Facebook and MySpace, LinkedIn primarily focuses on professional networking services.

The new mobile offering promises features that do not require much typing and could make it easier for users to invite new contacts, quickly find out more about people they meet and set up spontaneous meetings while on the go.

LinkedIn also said it plans to begin offering services in six languages, including Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish.


Report: 10 Million iPhones Unlikely To Be Sold in 2008

By Teresa von Fuchs

Analysts have reported doubt that Apple will reach its goal of selling 10 million iPhones this year, though the popular technology company has said it stands by its previously stated benchmark.

In a recent report, Bernstein Research Analyst Toni Sacconaghi warned that while the iPhone could prove a crucial part of the company’s future earnings, issues such as unlocked devices and falling demand could spell trouble for Apple.

“Apple's goal of selling 10 million iPhones this year is optimistic, particularly if Apple insists on carrier revenue sharing without significant price cuts or new model introductions,” Sacconaghi wrote in his report.


News Briefs for February 25, 2008

Companies in today’s briefs include: AT&T, Fly Mobile, Agilent Technologies, Kyocera Wireless

AT&T announced a partnership with the state of Tennessee to provide a statewide system to electronically exchange patient medical information. The system is designed to securely store and transmit patient information records between medical professionals.

Fly Mobile has announced a new handset that supports both Java games and classic Nintendo gaming platforms, including NES, SNES, Game Boy and Game Boy Color. Fly claims the new MC100 is the first handset to make mobile Nintendo gaming possible. The handset maker has included special gaming keys on the top of the handset, as well as a joypad. Other features of the handset include a special chipset for audio output, integrated e-mail functionality, a 2-megapixel camera and a MicroSD card for storing games and music.

• Agilent Technologies announced it has joined the Long Term Evolution/System Architecture Evolution (LTE/SAE) Trial Initiative, which is designed to validate the technology's capability.

• Kyocera Wireless announced that it has appointed a number of vice presidents in its Consumer Products Group. Kyocera named Brian Richardson as the firm's divisional vice president of Engineering in its Consumer Products Group; Cheri de Lacy will now be vice president of Strategic Planning; and Eric Anderson will be vice president of CPG Sales.