Blackberry Alternative?

BB9700

Seems there is a lot of talk about stopping Blackberry service in the GCC and some talk in Kuwait. Kuwait’s simple story is that they want to block some sites from being accessed as all internet, email, and messenger services are routed through Blackberry’s servers which circumvent most of the blocking requested by MOC from the ISPs. Now Saud is announcing they will stop BB service by this Friday, and UAE by October, so even if you are roaming there you won’t have Blackberry Service.

A lot of people love their Blackberry and can’t stop using it, but as soon as the service is disconnected they mentioned that they will switch over to the iPhone right away. I know a lot of people mentioned that all these smart phones have IM Clients that rival BBM but in reality none is simpler and more standardized then Blackberry, and it just won’t be the same in that case. I know that I have my Android and its a great phone but if they plan on disconnecting Blackberry any time soon I don’t think I would going back to SMS or enjoying the instant messaging as I do with BBM.

Blackberry Curve 9300

Stumbling onto this video at Crackberry is a good sign, I have had my Blackberry Curve 8900 for 1 year and 7 months now, and this thing is falling apart. The trackball is still faithfull and the phone is operating but it can’t read the micro-SD card anymore and hangs every once in a while. I’m surprised it lasted this long after what I put it through, and I have been waiting for Curve update, and here you have it. It will be running the 5.0 OS and now the rumored 6.0 OS which is fine by me. This isn’t a revolutionary phone but an overhaul of the phone to current technology, and I’m happy that they have mostly worked out the kinks in the new OS, so I’m hoping that it will be a smooth operating OS without any issues. The strange part is the guy on the video calling the Curve 8900, the “8500” which is new to me, other then that it looks like a good upgrade to the current phone, I just hope they don’t take too long to release it.

iPad 3G vs. Wifi

There is no doubt what so ever that Apple have created an amazing product with the iPad, but there is one crucial point about this machine that makes it so successful, it is a content intensive product. There is something for everyone, games, utilities, productivity,media, movies, TV shows, and music and everything else you want on the go. You need to be connected most of the time to go through the media, in my case I downloaded a lot of comics and magazines, but for a lot of services and applications you need to be connected online. One part is that Wireless is very fast with a fast connection, and even at times it isn’t enough for the iPad, I have tried 3G and at best the performance is spotty at best and it depends on your location. Now all three providers (Wataniya, Viva, and Zain) will be releasing the micro-sim at the same time but will you really be able to use it normally. The other aspect is that you will have to pay a monthly fee for 3G connectivity, is it really worth it in this case, its not a phone but a tool to access the net. I for one love the iPad, sitting on my couch going through the RSS feed or playing a few games, or reading comics, its a dynamic tool but on the go I will just use the available Wireless in the area, 3G just doesn’t make much sense to me with the use of the iPad since you wouldn’t use it enough to justify the monthly costs.

Sony & Ericsson Split

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Now this is a shocker, Sony Ericsson became synonymous with phones, I can only remember back in the late 90s and early 2000 when I had a few Ericsson phones then the joint venture took place and I don’t remember as anything else but Sony Ericsson. Its no secret that I’m a huge fan of Sony Ericsson, because they built quality phones which didn’t have too many software bugs and could survive a major beating. I switch from Nokia a little while back and loved the phone. Now this major surprise is a shock, they will cease operations in four months and all employees will be distributed between Sony and Ericsson. It seems the recession hit them hard as well and they couldn’t get out of it.

Sony Ericsson CEO, Bert Nordberg, says: “We truly did believe in the vision that was Sony Ericsson, we had an ambition to rise to the top, but sadly, our way towards there has been hampered in numerous ways during the past few years, both financially and strategically. We are saddened to announce that our parent companies, Sony and Ericsson have decided to quit the joint venture and put its reinstatement on hold indefinitely.”

Link: SEBlog

Zain Roaming Blackout

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This has probably been a disaster for any Zain subscriber over the last three days who has been using his or her phone outside of Kuwait. I got numerous calls from family members over the weekend from strange lines to check with Zain why did they disconnect their lines, I called up Zain to ask about different people and a few were even with Zero balance. Now they told me they were having a small glitch in their system and they will be back up in a matter of hours, I conveyed the message, usually that means 3 to 4 but even 10 hours later it was still the same situation. I called numerous techies of Zain and they kept telling me the nothing is wrong with the lines, but they are making a slight upgrade which could have had an impact on roaming Zain subscribers, so another story this time. The third time I just went to the one at the airport and those guys were swamped, turns out it was a company wide problem not just a few people for the last three days. Then the guy at the counter told people to contact the Ministry of Communication as it was their problem. So Zain did something to mess up all roaming calls, or pissed off somebody at the MoC, or MoC did something that damaged ONLY Zain’s roaming lines. Yet all Viva and Wataniya customers were working fine, for those who were expecting business calls or contacting family or any form of communication through a Zain line was practically out of luck. What ever the problem I’m surprised its still some what of an issue and at the end as usual the customers bore the grunt of the damage, I doubt Zain will offer them anything to compensate some of these damages.

Zain Data Pricing – 700 KD Blunder

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There seems to clearly be some details that you are unaware of when you have a data capable phone. With the Blackberry you have packages for data usage in local and roaming networks but that isn’t the case with any data capable phone such as an iPhone or Google phone. In my case the problem happened with my Google Nexus One by the fourth day in Bahrain during GulfRun my cellphone gets disconnected, luckily I have my BB with me so I call in to check whats the reason and they told me I have a bill of over 700 KD with the 700 being just the data bill not the phone bill and I would have to pay the whole thing off to have my phone unlocked. The problem is that a lot of people are unaware of this point, I had to pay right away and check my bill as soon as I got back to Kuwait. It was a ridiculously damaging bill and its a lot more then my usual bill. In this case Zain has no packages for data capable phone, you have to pay 6 fils per Kilobyte or 6.145 KD per 1MB which is extremely high and adds up very quickly. Since my phone was roaming, updating weather data, downloading email headers, syncing my gmail contacts and more over the past 5 days I got smacked with a ridiculous bill. I can’t believe that Zain being in Saudi and Bahrain can’t have an agreement with its own network for a data plan, the users just get destroyed by this pricing. After that mistake I switched off data while roaming and only connects to data when I connect to a wireless access point.

Vodafone has packages for anyone roaming in Europe in its network, and different packages for roaming outside of Europe. At least you are aware of all these details, and if you aren’t subscribed to it then the service isn’t switched on. If Zain switches off the service someone can easily call in to activate it but instead people get caught in this dangerously quiet pricing plan.

BlackBerry Messenger 5.0.0.55


There are some likes and dislikes to BBM 5.0, and I like that RIM tries to address these issues, so with BBM 5.0.0.55 they addressed the issue with the pictures, and cleaned up the status area and organized the groups a little. Its a simple upgrade to your current 33 version but I recommend that you do a full back up before doing any software modifications:

Improvements:

  • Picture Preview, you don’t have to download to see the pictures now
  • Cleaned up text in your status and chat previews
  • Cleans up groups as well

Link: Download BBM 5.0.0.55

Wataniya Telecom Ads

Recently I have been seeing more Wataniya Ads then the other providers, more ads on the street and newspapers. There are certain things that I think should be red, and I do like Wataniya’s branding its just they have been a bit on the quiet side while the other two squabble a lot. A friend of mine has both a Wataniya & Zain number, he uses both consistently, and he has experiment with the two and for some reason Zain is consistently more expensive, he always gets a higher bill. I have come to the conclusion that having a Mobily Saudi line in Kuwait is cheaper then having a Zain line but I have take a closer look at later. Going back to the main subject, I was searching Wataniya earlier and stumbled upon their Youtube Channel, its nice seeing big companies using tools that we use, I really liked the 10th Anniversary Ad. I honestly prefer the original red flag of Kuwait then the current one, it feels original and full of pride, click play below to see the ad.

Link: Wataniya
Link: WataniyaYoutubeChannel

Etisalat & du

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Lots of people have had experience with Etisalat in one way or another, and Etisalat owns a large chunk of Du so its pretty much the same company but its pretty odd how their coverage is slightly different. Everyone knows that Etisalat is one of the most rigid networks to have, they aren’t cheap, they really work hard to block your content, and they aren’t the best service.

The funny is that as we were approaching Dubai my Blackberry started dinging, I thought it was off and we were still 7000 feet in the air. I look at the phone and I was receiving the bbms, emails, and smses. I look at the network provider and I was connected to Du, all the way until the plane landed.

Now this is what I face every time I’m in Dubai:

With Etisalat:

  • I can make local and international phone calls with out an issue on a normal phone
  • When I connect using my Blackberry, I can’t get any BB service or msgs but the phone works normally

With Du:

  • With my normal phone I can make local calls but when I try to make international calls I always get Network Busy, calls don’t go through
  • With the Blackberry all the services work and I can make local and international calls

No matter what I did this always seems to be the case with these networks. Same situation that I mentioned in Bahrain with Batelco & Zain.

Using BBM 5


There was a lot of problems with the pre-release of BBM 5 months ago, contacts were being deleted and the chat program was crashing. This time around its Blackberry that had the official release of BBM 5 with all the new features. After using it for over a week and a majority of my usual contacts have switched over the change is interesting.


Pros:

  • You can see details of the other person’s contact
  • Enlarging the contact’s photo
  • Associating BBM contacts with your phone book, the picture from BBM gets associated with your Phone book
  • Groups are a great edition you can share pictures, lists, dates and conversations between the group and its very organizing unlike inviting people to conversations such as before. Also you can have the group symbol on your Blackberry Homepage so you won’t have to go into the BBM to see it.
  • Barcode scanning makes it easier and unique to add people to your list, you always notice people looking for their BBM PIN no matter how many times you explain it to them.
  • Backing up contacts remotely and locally.

Cons:

  • The one major con that I think BBM 5 has is when your trying to send images. It’s not as easy as before and you have to transfer a picture, it doesn’t compress it and sends a simple small picture as it did before. Takes time to transfer the image so the half the time it fails.


Overall I think Blackberry did an amazing job with BBM 5, the only problem is with sending images but still its a huge step forward. Maybe they will be able to adjust it at a later point, but the benefit of the groups and shareing details are enourmous.