The Mobile Lowdown: Motorola, T-Mobile, Apple, Google, AT&T, China


Credit: Tricia Duryee

Our list of mobile news to start your day. Today’s topics: Motorola (NYSE: MMI), T-Mobile’s Sidekick, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) Hacking, AT&T (NYSE: T), and China Unicom’s new OS, Wophone…

Motorola’s tablet ambitions. Motorola’s launch of the Xoom last week — its first device based on on the tablet-friendly Android Honeycomb OS — was met with almost equal parts enthusiasm (an Android competitor to the iPad! wonderful interface!) and criticism (the price! no apps!). Motorola’s CEO Sanjay Jha says sales are off to a “good start” though. Moving swiftly on, Moto’s promoting what will come next: a seven-inch tablet to follow up the Xoom (Nano Xoom?), and more smartphones that feature the docking ability that Moto introduced on the Atrix 4G.

App Store hacking. This is one that could prove to erupt into a big problem if Apple doesn’t put it in check soon. Apple App Store users are reporting — and not for the first time — that their accounts are getting hacked with unauthorised purchases. It looks like the one common theme so far is the use of iTunes gift cards.

Android In-App Payments. The launch of a new product looks like it is set for May 2011. According to a blog post from Jambool, which provides an in-app payment service called Social Gold, the service will be discontinued from May 31, 2011, in preparation for Google’s new in-app payment service (Google (NSDQ: GOOG) acquired Jambool in August 2010 for an undisclosed sum.)

T-Mobile’s Sidekick. T-Mobile is discontinuing the Danger data service, owned by Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), that is used with current Sidekick devices, effective May 31. The move is thought to be related to the operator’s plan to start selling a new version of the device, which will reportedly run on Android. Current Sidekick users will be given offers to trade up their devices for newer models in the weeks ahead, the operator said in a statement.

AT&T’s mobile assault after the iPhone. These aren’t directly related, but they both point to how AT&T is forging ahead with new revenue streams in the wake of losing iPhone exclusivity (which must smart after reports that Verizon shifted one million iPhones in its first weekend of sales last month).

AT&T is now selling the Amazon Kindle in its retail stores, the first time that it will sell an e-reading device (it provides the wireless connectivity for the Kindle service). And AT&T is also starting up a location-based marketing service for retailers and brands, ShopAlerts powered by Placecast.

China Unicom’s other OS. Who needs Google and Apple when you can develop your own OS? The country’s second-largest mobile phone operator, China Unicom, is baking up its own mobile OS, called Wophone, and has enlisted a number of handset makers, including HTC, Samsung, Huawei and Motorola, to make handsets to run it.

Why go for another standard? One reason is operator control — Unicom will be able to better integrate the system into its own billing network, for example — but another is market opportunity. Symbian currently dominates in the country, but with all-change at Nokia (NYSE: NOK), the game could be opening up again. Unicom also sells the iPhone and Android devices.

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