The official brand launch was yesterday, in Auckland with the presence of David Lee, Assistant Vice President of HTC Asia, Telecom people (of course) and an audience of journalists and other guests.
During his speech Mr Lee said "This union between HTC, the world's leading provider of Microsoft Windows Mobile smart handheld devices and Telecom New Zealand marks the beginning of a very exciting time for the mobile phone industry in New Zealand!".
This is interesting because two out of the three new Okta Mobile devices (Okta Boss, Okta Touch) are Windows Mobile handsets manufactured by HTC. The third (Okta Agent) is actually a Pantech device.
Telecom New Zealand have been working with HTC directly, including the last release under the Telecom brand, the Titan Windows Mobile.
The HTC Touch is surprisingly thin compared to other Windows Mobile devices, and looks good too. It sports a new user interface on top of the standard Windows Mobile UI we are used to.
It's only the first version, and it looks promising. You can access some of the functions through finger gestures, and small features were added such as scrolling lists and web pages with your finger.
Still it's not 100% integrated to the OS and applications, and the menus can not be customised. But it's a great start.
When asked if this user interface was a direct response to Apple iPhone's own, David Lee pointed out that TouchFlo (the official name for this technology) is the result of two years of research - and the iPhone and the Touch are in different market segments (even though you can manage your media with the Touch).
Everyone present at the launch was give an Okta Touch. I am using this now and will soon post a review on Geekzone.
It just happens that someone dropped a URL to me, and it shows another two Windows Mobile devices being announced, in addition to the already available Okta Agent Windows Mobile Smartphone I reviewed before.
The page is here and shows this picture with a new Windows Mobile Smarphone called Okta Boss and a Windows Mobile Pocket PC Called Okta Touch:
I am told Vodafone is introducing this device tonight to their partners, with retail availability sometime in November.
The Treo 500v is the first Palm device running Windows Mobile 6 Standard, previously known as "Windows Mobile for Smartphone". This means you won't find a touch screen on this device, but it does have a nice keyboard, and thank goodness a LCD bigger (240 x 320 pixels landscape) and better than the previous square LCD (240 x 240 pixels) used on the Treo Windows Mobile Pocket PC devices.
It will come with 256 MB with 150 MB available for user, support for Bluetooth 2.0 EDR (including A2DP stereo) and 3G (2100 MHz). No HSDPA but I agree the market segment this device will appeal to may not notice much difference.
The device features integration with Vodafone live!, the first Windows Mobile device that actually allows this. The price will be right for the market segment it's aiming for, those not so early adopter who want a phone that is a bit smarter than feature phones, or the not so high end requirements of a small business - it still connected to Exchange Server and supports Microsoft Direct Push.
Its "carrousel" user interface is an overlay over the standard Windows Mobile homescreen. It allows you to scroll left - right to find groups of related applications, and up and down to select a specific program. It's really easy to use and quite pretty.
When I first saw the Treo 500v I really thought this could be the first Windows Mobile Smartphone that would make me sway from the Pocket PC land.
Something interesting: this device is manufactured by ASUS, not HTC.
I asked about the not yet released Windows Mobile 6 upgrade for the Treo 750v and Olivier tells me it's still pending some bug fixes found when tested on the local network.
The full day event starts with a keynote by Microsoft GM Unified Communications Kim Akers.
Full agenda and registration link for this launch here.
Originally a "wireless" ISP providing users with Internet access through WCDMA TDD-based technology, they moved into the wireline DSL broadband some time ago, when they bought Quicksilver Internet, an established, but small, ISP.
Anyway, back to the problem on hand, it seems Woosh have been providing less than stellar services for their users on unlimited plans. This seems to be affecting people on an old plan providing unlimited traffic.
It sounds like the old "unleashed" problem we saw happening at Xtra that generated so many discussions, and at the end a publick apology from Telecom New zealand. To refresh your memory, the Xtra plan had no caps, but they were heavily shaping traffic. Unfortunately their implementation was so wrong that they were actually slowing down any and all traffic on those "unleashed" plans.
Some of the Woosh users now are thinking the ISP started doing the same, but only for the "unlimited" plans.
Today I received an e-mail from Woosh's Retention Manager Tracy Facer, and we arranged a conference call for 4pm... Stay tunned as we find out more on what's going on.
As soon as I have their comments I will update this post and post a reply in the ongoing discussion.
UPDATE: I have posted the results of our conference call in the discussion.
We want NZ designers and developers to find working on the web fun again and to want to learn and expand their understanding of the accessible, semantic, standards based and social web.
Lots of more details on the BarCamp Auckland 2007 webpage - including registration form.
The event is free, but limited to 175 people so make sure you register now.
And by the way, EventFinder is a cool site listing gigs and other events around the country. You can link to friends and organise your plans on attending the events, review, comment, etc... Really cool site.
I found it strange that they don't offer WiFi so in a recent email exchange with the owner I asked why they don't offer WiFi of any kind. His answer really surprised me as it would never occur to me that such a situation could exist. He admitted that providing free WiFi for customers is now very cheap and something that he'd like to do but he can't. See, his shop is in a very small local strip center with limited parking and his landlord prohibits the offering of WiFi of any kind as it encourages patrons to stay longer than usual and tie up parking spaces. It's actually in his lease that he can't offer WiFi as it is important to have rapid turnover for the parking spaces for the center. This totally surprised me and made me realize that it's tough to be a small businessman in such a competitive field so next time you visit such a shop don't jump on the owner, they may not have a choice to forego the WiFi.
Now, we don't have free wi-fi in New Zealand cafes (we actually have free wi-fi at Esquires Coffee Houses courtesy of Tomizone), but in the main business areas it's common to find commercial wi-fi hotspots. However I never thought landlords had so much control on what people can offer in terms of technology.
I agree though with one of the comments on JK's blog about people staying too long when free wi-fi is available. It makes it harder for other patrons to actually enjoy a coffee because someone is hogging a table to download music while paying for a glass of soda...
What do you think? IS free wi-fi something you would like to see in cafes?
TUANZ is the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand.
Some are looking for the wrong URL. The right one is http://nz.youtube.com.
UPDATE: http://www.youtube.co.nz seems to be live too now.