This was a week of pretty cool announcements in the Strange New World of technology. Google and T-Mobile got together to finally come out with an Android, but then flip-flopped the data plan. Sprint also announced that it's looking to turn Baltimore into one big broadband hot spot. The craziest announcement had to be SanDisk and its attempt to get into the music business. Here are our picks of the week.
SanDisk has decided that the world needs another physical media to get music. It just announced a partnership with four major music companies to produce a new music format called Slotmusic. Basically SanDisk will sell its compact memory preloaded with an album plus some extras at retail outlets starting in mid-October. The music will be sold in a DRM-free MP3 format and an adapter will be sold to help transfer the music to the PC via USB. The initial batch of releases will have 29 albums from EMI Group Ltd., Warner Music Group Corp., Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group and Sony BMG Music Entertainment and will cost $15. We really don't quite understand the logic of this move. Sure, there are plenty of phones coming out now with empty flash memory slots, but who is buying music in a brick and mortar retailer nowadays? This looks like this century's 8-track tape.
Sprint has just announced that it will roll out its new WiMax network, tentatively titled Xohm, in Baltimore on Oct. 8. WiMax is a wireless network that promises to be faster than 3G networks and provide download speeds of 2 to 4 megabits downstream. This is a really big deal because manufacturers will soon begin to roll out laptops with WiMax chipsets in them. These laptops would let the user jump on to WiMax networks, which are basically like citywide hot spots. If WiMax works, broadband providers like the cable company might need to worry because there might be another viable option.
So by now we all know that T-Mobile is launching the G1, the new Android-based Google phone, and it will sport a $179 price tag with a two-year contract. At launch there will be two plans available, including a $25 unlimited Web/Internet package with some messaging, and a $25 unlimited data and messaging plan. But there has been some weird flip-flopping at the T-Mobile headquarters. On Tuesday, it announced a 1GB per month cap on the data plan. Then it changed its mind Wednesday and took it back. Let's hope it irons out everything by the time the phone comes to market.