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“iPhone Killers” gird their loins for battle

As the launch of the 3G iPhone approaches, BusinessWeek reports that competitors face the same problem they did in July of last year.

“Most people want the iPhone, just as they want the iPod and not some other MP3 player,” says Gloria Barczak, professor of marketing at Northeastern University. “People want the real thing.”

The difference between now and then is that the real thing will cost less, at least up front. Higher costs for data plans and messaging actually means the 3G iPhone costs more over the life of the contract with AT&T.

Nonetheless, that new sticker price is putting pressure on rival carriers “to increase their own mobile handset subsidies, boost marketing budgets, and reduce prices on some services, analysts and industry insiders say—all likely to mean slimmer margins.”

Unfortunately, none of those business strategies are about the product and the user experience, which leaves it up to the handset makers to challenge the iPhone.

“We want to take the touch experience to a new level,” says John Wang, chief marketing officer of HTC. The Touch has sold more than 3 million units worldwide in the past year, which sounds great until you consider the iPhone has sold twice that many in the same period while limited to just a few countries.

Still, the Touch has sold more than the Centro. Palm’s last gasp has sold more than a million since its introduction in 2007, and the company is “confident” of reaching 2 million in 2008. Imagine what Palm could do if it actually created something new, instead of beating their dead horse of an OS at $99 a phone. Or maybe that’s not such a good idea.

The Sprint Instinct is new, though one could question its originality, at least in advertising. Sprint is spending $100 million in ads that compare the Instinct to the iPhone—the 2G iPhone, that is. Looking over reviews, they are mixed at best. At worst, Gizmodo lambastes web browsing on the Instinct as an “ABYSMAL failure of design.”

And regarding failures of design at web browsing, one could count the Blackberry firmly in that column, at least until the soon-to-be-released Blackberry Bold. Preliminary reports have a lot of good things to say about what will be the iPhone’s real competition among consumers, but that brings up the real question.

Carriers and handset makers had an entire year to get ahead of the iPhone, to create a true rival at a cheaper price. Now, a year later, they don’t even have the better sticker price.

Maybe you can’t beat the real iThing.

Source: Arstechnica.com

Polaroid trying to reinvent itself in digital photography era

Millions of families have enjoyed instant pictures along with the emergence type Polaroid photographs, an alternative to the traditional method involving periods of up to a week for developarea and printing pictures, writes New York Times.

Now, however, Polaroid wants to associate that period with the new technology of digital pictures made with the new mobile phone or digital cameras.

This fall, the company wants to market the size of a printer capable of very small print photos on a digital format in about 30 seconds.

The printer that uses wireless devices like Bluetooth to ensure connection with mobile phones and digital appliances, will cost around 150 dollars (94.91 euros) and size pictures will be 5.08 to 7.62 centimeters, the size of a credit card.

The printer uses a system similar laptopurilor opening and instead of toner uses a chip and a new type of paper printed with layers of microscopic crystals. Crystals can create a multitude of colors when they are warm.

The printer turn signal received from the camera or phone in information on the intensity of heat required picture.

This new type of paper is the creation of former Polaroid employees have created a new company, Zink Imaging, when Polaroid bankruptcy and takeover by Petters Group Worldwide. The printer will be produced by Alps Electric Company of Tokyo.

A potential market for such a product is huge and largely neexplorat, said Steve Hoffenberg, analyst at Lyra Reaserch, business market research. “Today, the large number of mobile phones able to make pictures and digital devices caused a substantial increase pictures made by the great mass of ordinary users,” added May.

Lyra estimates of marketing 880 million phones with photo camera for the year 2008.

However it could be difficult for her new printers create a niche market. According to estimates the same companies, approximately 478 billion photos will be made in 2008, mostly using mobile phone, but only a small part will be printed. The argument consists in the fact that most prefer to post these pictures on web pages or send them to friends via e-mail.

The target group for this new type of printer could be young teenagers or even professional groups such as real estate agents.

Browse will cost less than traditional Polaroid pictures as in the past ten years had prices of at least one U.S. dollars (63 eurocenti), said Jim Alviani, director of business development at Polaroid.

Hartia people from Zink will sell in packets of ten units for the price of 3.99 dollars (2.52 euros) or 30 for 9.99 U.S. dollars (6.32 euros).

The source of energy used by the printer will be a lithium-ion battery, with a term of life enough to print some 15 photos.

Printers can be attached anywhere because of an adhesive layer.

According to Steve Herchen, director of the department of technological Zink, the new paper will be used for other brands in the future not only for Polaroid.

Tomy Company of Tokyo plans to incorporate such a printer in a gallery room, he said. The company responsible for creating these rooms will be Foxconn Technology Group of Taiwan.

Hartia Zink is similar to ordinary photographic paper, the difference in composition, which uses a layer of plastic and other layers of overlapping crystals in succession, added Herschen.

Each photograph printed will contain approximately 100 billion of such crystals. During the printing process of forming crystals are so warm colors.

On the other hand, according to Hoffenberg’s declarations, no matter how ingenious process might be, many would not be tempted to print photos taken by mobile phone.