November 30, 2007 11:00 AM PST
Week in review: The feds' book 'em club
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The revamped contest pulls in sponsorship from the U.S. Department of Energy and NStar, an electric and gas utility based in Massachusetts. In addition to receiving cash or services, competitors will get mentoring from experts as they develop their business plans. In the past three years, there has been an avalanche of venture capital money into clean tech businesses, with solar and biofuels attracting the most investment.
Verizon Wireless plans to let any cell phone compatible with its technology run on its network, and to let owners of those devices run any application they desire, by the end of next year. That would mean that any U.S. customer of Sprint's, which also uses the CDMA (code division multiple access) cellular networking technology, could use his or her phone on Verizon's data network.
But the decision to open up the network to outside applications is an indication of the growing interest in mobile phones as an application development platform by companies like Google, and a dramatic departure from Verizon's usual practice of locking down its phones.
Even though it hasn't quite satisfied all of its critics on the subject, Verizon in the past few weeks has taken significant steps--including Tuesday's announcement--toward opening its network to devices and software not offered by the company.
In another announcement, Verizon Communications and Vodafone, joint owners of Verizon Wireless, plan to use the LTE (Long Term Evolution) standard backed by GSM industry players rather than the UMB (ultramobile broadband) standard backed by Verizon's current partners. There's a host of implications for the industry, but for the phone user, the impact is simple. Right now, if you're a Verizon or Sprint customer, and you want to travel to many parts of the world, you'll have to get a rental, if you want to make calls while you're there. The move toward LTE would bring Verizon into the GSM world and enable travelers to use their phones around the world (for a hefty fee, of course).
Meanwhile, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that a 3G version of Apple's cell phone will be available in 2008. Stephenson didn't elaborate on exactly when we'd see it--though Jobs had said late in 2008--nor did he say exactly what features it would offer. And as for a price (currently the iPhone retails for $399), Stephenson said that would be up to Jobs to dictate.
Also of note
New tests have revealed that Windows XP with the beta Service Pack 3 has twice the performance of Vista, even with its long-awaited Service Pack 1...The Universal Digital Library, a book-scanning project backed by several major libraries across the globe, has completed the digitization of 1.5 million books and made them free and publically available...The immense popularity of the hit Guitar Hero franchise may be the best thing that has happened to the instrument, to rock 'n' roll, and to guitar instructors, in a long time.
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