Rockstar Bloggers Rock: Five Questions for IntoMobile’s Simon Sage

I first came into direct contact with IntoMobile’s Simon Sage through my daily Qiks on last summer’s N97 24/7 tour, and finally got to meet him when he visited Toronto for a TELUS Mobility press event. Since he was kind enough to get me in, I’m giving him a little blogger love here today…

1. How’d you score this sweet, sweet gig anyway?

Half by chance, half by school. I’ve always been big on writing, and wanted to make a job of it somehow. Journalism seemed like a natural fit, but I went into an English program instead, which made me see a lot of other opportunities other than writing for a newspaper. My first blogging job was picked up completely by being in the right place at the right time: a friend at a party said he knew someone who needed a writer, and as an arts major, you don’t hear that often, so I jumped on it.

2. I see that BlackBerry is your sidearm of choice… How about your carrier and call/data plan?

I’m on Rogers, paying about $100/month for 10 favourites contacts, 6 gigs of data, and a handful of minutes. Honestly, it’s mostly overkill since I’m on a laptop most of the time, but I need to be able to go to town on wireless data for app reviews. TELUS has some new Clear and Simple plans that look very attractive, and I’d be tempted to see what WIND offers eventually, but, y’know, three year contracts.

3. Where’s the most exotic place your work at IntoMobile has taken you?

Barcelona for Mobile World Congress. I had been to southern Spain before, but Barcelona was very different. Other destinations have included Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego, Orlando, New York, and Toronto. As glamorous as it sounds, most of the time is spent on the trade show floor.

4. If I were to ask for a post you’ve written at that you’re particularly proud of, where would you send me?

Hmmmm. I work really hard on all of the reviews, so if I were applying for a job, I’d send them to you — Storm 9530 is probably the best one. But as for ones I really enjoyed writing and actually show off my style, I’d probably opt for one of the goofier ones. Pearl Flip going through the FCC was favourite along that vein

Podcasting is also a big part of my job, and I’d posit my interview with an MP about wireless as my best yet .

5. What killer feature are you waiting for on *all* mobile devices?

Augmented reality that works. Right now it’s niche and kind of jinky to use, but I think eventually we’ll have Bluetooth enabled shades (think Vuzix or Trispecs) with a magnetometer that overlays all of this cool data on top of our real vision. Looking through the phone’s camera like a periscope is really just a stopgap until the accessory manufacturers step up to the plate. It sounds pretty sci-fi, but I think it’s much closer than people imagine.

Canada’s Latest Fail: “We Charge for incoming texts now…”

Jim Prentice (moran, fail)

As the Rogers/Fido iPhone debacle continues there’s some new bad news for mobile users in this country: Bell Canada and Telus Mobility have both announced their intention to charge customers for incoming text messages as of next month.

For anyone not schooled in the etiquette of mobile carriers, this is how it has worked in the rest of the world for the last, oh, decade or so: Subscribers pay for outgoing calls and texts only; to be asked to pay for the receipt of such things would be tantamount to a slap in the face.

And who is the only politician in this country with the power to stop this? God help us all, it’s none other than Hollywood shill Jim Prentice, our Honourable Minister of Doing It Wrong

Now to be fair Prentice has called upon representatives from both companies to meet with him about this issue, but presumably it’s to find out whether they want him to swallow or not.

NDP leader Jack Layton is taking up the cause with an online petition, but it seems to me that if you sit across the floor from the guy in The House of Commons you should maybe be able to to better than that. Still, it’s better than nothing.

I really hope Ottawa can get with the program on this stuff, if not for Canadians then at least for the international visitors who will hopefully still be visiting for The Winter Olympics in 2010

Requiem for an Analog Mobile Network

Motorola StarTAC

And good riddance!

As of this President’s Family Day our friends in the US and A will no longer have nationwide analog cellular service, and “me too” Canada will likely follow suit.

For those of you too young to remember, it’s worth reflecting on just how far mobile technology has progressed in just over a decade. Pardon me while I adjust my bifocals and lean back in my rocking chair…

My first-ever handset was an extravagant birthday gift that ended up being more of a burden than anything else. Even though it was a Nokia (I can’t for the life of me remember the model number) I never used it thanks to Bell Mobility’s prohibitive airtime costs, yet after it was stolen, replaced and then recovered I somehow ended up with two!

Sometime in 1999 I upgraded to the RAZR of its day, the Moto StarTAC seen here. Its bleeding-edge features included a two-line LED screen and a (more or less) unbendable antenna. But by that summer I was trialling my first CDMA phone with Bell, then moved quickly over to clearNET before settling down with Fido and GSM in early 2000.

I did have to endure Bell Mobility’s AMPS network a few more times, though — on tour in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, at the family cottage, and anywhere else Fido hadn’t rolled out their network to yet. For these occasions I strapped a montrous analog sled onto the back of my trusty Nokia 5190, thereby giving up all rights to text messaging and call display.

What I’ll miss: The cheap thrill of reacquiring a digital signal just north of Orangeville on Highway 10, letting me know I was on my way back to civilization.

And not so much: Just about everything else.

First Bell, Now Telus?!

Telus Mobility's $15/unlimited plan

The title of this post is the same as a thread I started over on the HowardForums — and once again, thanks to Elias for the heads-up!

It seems that Telus Mobility has launched their own pre-emptive strike against the coming JesusPhone… Their unlimited data plan is email and IM-only (according to their site, anyway) and is more than twice as much as Bell’s mobile browsing bomb, but interestingly they will allow you to use the plan with a BlackBerry — traditionally a “power” device targeted at the business crowd.

The specifics of both the Bell and Telus plans are still being widely contested on all fronts, but things are definitely looking up from last April when I was paying Fido a whopping $40/month for a mere 7MB of BlackBerry email!

I predict that Rogers will shortly be forced to play its hand and officially announce before Christmas that the JesusPhone is coming in early 2008. Still, its going to be a tough holiday season for employees of Rogers stores:

Potential Buyer: What are you offering that matches the cheap unlimited data plans available from Bell and Telus?

Rogers-type Person: We’re going to be the exclusive provider of Apple’s iPhone in the new year, with a special unlimited data plan and visual voicemail!

Potential Buyer: Yes, but Bell and Telus are offering their unlimited plans right now on any handset…

Rogers-type Person: Um, we’re getting the iPhone…

For me the best part about all of this is seeing the public at large starting to get the power of mobility. The “I just need to make calls” mentality is slowly fading into the background, and the perceived value of having the internet in your pocket is definitely on the rise.

If you’re finding yourself behind the curve the CBC ran an exhaustive feature on the mobile landscape last week on their technology site — or you can just browse around the pages here and get up to speed…


Toronto Transit Corruption

Have a look at the letter below, and if you feel the same way I do, feel free to cut, paste, personalize and send it…




To the councillors of the TTC:

I was shocked to read this article detailing the TTC's plan to install an underground wireless network solely for the purposes of advertising.

As a Torontonian who has travelled abroad, I believe that what our supposedly "world class city" needs much more than a wireless advertising network is a usable mobile phone signal in its subway system. As a TTC user I must ask you: Given the steep declines in ridership on the system, how exactly do you think that more advertising is going to attract more riders? Do you not think that underground mobile phone service is a more valuable investment for the TTC and wireless carriers to make?

Along with the other recipients of this email, I would be most interested in hearing your thoughts on this matter...


(Your name here)