Thursday, May 1, 2008

Nokia Denies Reports on Cost of Music Service

Nokia is denying reports it will pay Universal Music Group US$35 for every phone that offers access to Universal's music library via its upcoming Comes With Music service.

"That is not true. We are not paying that amount to any record label," said a spokeswoman at the Finnish phone giant.

But when it comes to the actual financial details of its deal with Universal Music Group, Nokia isn't ready to reveal specifics. Negotiations with the record company are still going on, according to Nokia.

Several media reports, citing sources close to the company, said that Nokia would pay up to $35 for every phone incorporating Comes With Music, speculating that this fee would drive up the price of the handsets.

Nokia Comes With Music was announced in December last year. It enables people to buy a mobile phone with a year of unlimited access to music. The plan is to launch during the second half of 2008, according to Nokia.

"We set out to create the music experience that people are telling us they are looking for -- all the music they want in the form of unlimited downloads to their mobile device and PC," said Anssi Vanjoki, executive vice president and general manager of its new Markets unit, at the launch.

But since the launch, Nokia has received criticism for its use of DRM (digital rights management) technology, which limits how tracks can be used.

Nokia is putting a lot of effort, and money, into the services side of its business. During Nokia's first quarter conference call CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo touched on the subject on several occasions.

The future is a combination of phones and services, according to Kallasvuo.

"There is so much opportunity here," he said.

IPhone Battery Life Redialed

Apple touts some impressive specs for the battery in the iPhone--up to eight hours of talk time, 250 hours of standby time, six hours of internet use, seven hours of video playback, and a full day of audio playback. Unfortunately, Apple doesn't list the battery life for a particular situation that I run into about twice a year: battery life during periods of extended redialing.

You see, twice a year I sign my daughters up for classes at the local recreation center. We've generally got an excellent parks and recreation program here in the Pacific Northwest, but registration for classes is somewhat of a nightmare. Registration opens in phases--phone lines first, internet second, and fax/in person third. The phone lines open up at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday, followed two hours later by internet registration. The problem with the phone-in registration is that it seems Parks & Rec has one phone line and one registration attendant, but no hold queue. As you might expect, with 80,000 parents calling to register their children for activities, busy signals are the norm during the phone-in portion of the registration. If you wait until 10:00 a.m. for Internet registration, however, some of the most popular classes may already be filled. So you really want to get through on the phone.

To up my odds this time out, I put two phone lines to use. In my left hand, I held our household phone. In my right, my iPhone. With the rec center numbers programmed into both phones, I sat down and waited for 8:00 a.m., with my fingers posed over the dial button on each phone. Ready... set... go! It took a bit of time to get the finger process down, but soon, I had both phones dialing and redialing like crazy. Interestingly, the iPhone is much faster at dialing and terminating a call than is our landline. I could make somewhere between two and three attempts on the iPhone for each one attempt on the landline.

Minute after minute, I redialed and redialed and redialed. Soon a minute turned into five minutes, then 10 minutes, then 30 minutes, then an hour. With nothing much to do other than punch buttons, my mind soon started thinking about how many calls I was making--I could make somewhere around 15 calls a minute between the two phones. After 60 minutes, I was at 900 attempted calls--and not one got through! As the second hour started, I noticed that both phones' battery indicators were reflecting the stress of the activity; they had both dropped notably from their full starting points.

Still getting nothing but busy signals, I kept redialing for another 45 minutes, until 9:45 a.m. At that time, the iPhone alerted me that I was down the final 20 percent of the battery life. This is when I decided to just give up and wait for Internet registration to open in 15 minutes--with more than 1,500 attempts made, all I had to show for it was sore fingers and a permanently ingrained memory of the standard busy signal tone.

Extrapolating from my 80-percent battery usage in one hour and 45 minutes, I can say that the expected battery life of an iPhone (approaching one year of age) used under "maximum redialing conditions" is somewhere just over two hours. Apple, feel free to quote me on that one.

Though this is far from typical usage, I was impressed with the iPhone during this long exercise in frustration--the iPhone was much easier to redial than my home phone, it never once crashed or otherwise failed to act like a phone, and it didn't get overly warm to the touch. After a recharge session, it was back to its normal usably-long-battery-life self.

And, for the record, when Internet registration opened, I was able to register the girls for our preferred swim classes... whew.

New 802.11n Routers: The Best Wi-Fi Yet

The best new 802.11n wireless routers deliver strong performance, coverage, and compatibility--but picking the right one for your network is more complicated than ever. Our lab tests reveal the top choices, whether you are looking for a basic bargain or consider speed and range paramount.
Becky Waring, Testing by Elliott Kirschling, PC World