XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. and Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. have just announced that they have come to an agreement to merge. Monopoly outcries are likely a sure bet, as the deal would result in the consolidation of the two two companies in the subscription-only satellite radio business, so we can expect federal regulators to be looking at this deal under the microscope long and hard before it’s hopeful approval. The companies have also announced that Mel Karmazin, Sirius CEO, would become CEO of the newly formed company, while Gary Parson, XM chairman, would remain in the same position.
We have been waiting for this one for quite a while, and Apple delivered on the iPhone rumors that have been making the rounds for the better part of a year. The iPhone is more than just a phone though - this is the next generation iPod, a portable version of OS X, and a portable Internet navigator. Let’s first look at the hardware features.
The new iPhone features a 3.5-inch widescreen tough-sensitive display. The screen is a 320x480 at 160 ppi - that is an absolutely amazing feat, as 160 ppi is going to be gorgeous. The phone itself is 11.6 mm thin, and features a 2.0 megapixel camera, quad-band GSM/EDGE, EiFi, and Bluetooth 2.0. Battery life will be 16 hours for audio, 5 hours for talk time, video, and web browsing. Even cooler still is the built-in proximity sensor, which recognizes when the phone is on your ear so that it turns off the screen to save power. The accelerometer senses when the phone is tilted into a portrait or landscape display, and changes what is seen on the screen as appropriate. Lastly, there are ambient light sensors as well.
On the software side of things, the iPhone runs a specialized version of OS X, with the promise of support for full desktop-class applications. The phone also has SMS session support, which looks to have an iChat-like interface. This allows you to follow an SMS conversation back and forth on one screen. The three way calling support on the phone looks to work easily and seamlessly - if you have two calls going at once, simply hit the conference button, and both calls are brought together. Safari is built in, touted as the first fully usable HTML browser on a phone, and it features on-the-fly zooming that reminded us of the Wii Opera Browser. Photo management is top notch, and the phone even support Dashboard widgets as well, allowing for a whole host of software application possibilities that haven’t even been thought of yet.
Apple also announced support for Yahoo! IMAP email, which will be PUSH email similar to what you find on the BlackBerry. Google Maps is also integrated into the phone in a snazzy way, and that includes satellite map support.
The iPhone is going to be offered exclusively through Cingular in the US starting in June, and hits Europe in the fourth quarter of 2007, followed by Asia in 2008. The 4 GB model will be available for $499 with a two-year contract, while the 8 GB model will sell for $599 with two-year contract. Once it passes FCC approval, the phone will be available for purchase from both Cingular and Apple.
Apple has created a great interactive site that lets you see exactly how a bunch of the iPhone features work, which you can check out below.
Read More | Apple iPhone Product Page
On Friday, the FCC finally approved the merger between BellSouth and the company formerly known as SBC, now known as AT&T. As soon as AT&T got word of the green light, they released information on how the merger will affect both companies following the merger. Long story short, Cingular is going to be rebranded as AT&T early this year. While it would seem the obvious choice, AT&T Wireless will likely not be the name given to the service. Customer will be able to keep their current phones and plans, and if you live in what is currently an AT&T landline service area, you may even get bundled discounts out of the deal.
Rumors have been floating around the internet for months now about Microsoft’s mysterious “iPod Killer,” the Zune portable media player, but until now, little has been confirmed. Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the Toshiba 1089 player, which apparently will be marketed by Microsoft as the Zune player. Getting Toshiba to manufacture the player is hardly surprising on Microsoft’s part, especially given their long history together, including their support for the HD DVD platform. Utilizing Toshiba’s manufacturing resources also eliminates the need for Microsoft to construct their own factories.
Fortunately, the Zune does not appear to be just a re-skinned Toshiba Gigabeat. In terms of specifications, the Zune player appears to be hard-drive based, using a 1.8” 30GB hard drive. It also comes with a reasonable 3-inch TFT display as well as an integrated FM tuner and USB 2.0 connectivity. The most fascinating aspect of the Zune, however, comes from its built-in wireless capabilities. It seems the rumors about Microsoft’s Zune network for downloading and sharing music and other media may be true after all.
Read More | FCC
Hinging on what must be a successful nuvi 360 launch, Garmin looks to be gearing up for the holiday release of the nuvi 660. The 660 just received FCC approval, which gives Garmin the go-ahead to start pumping these things out. Some of the new features cited for this one include a 4.3-inch display, GTM20 and GTM21 functionality (to help with driving during heavy traffic periods), and a super-cool FM transmitter. If strong enough, imagine the ability to broadcast your directions to another car that is traveling with you to the same destination. While cool, we somehow don’t think that this is the intention. Still, we think we will see this one hit retail sometime this November.
Read More | MobileWhack
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