Thursday, June 08, 2006

Google Calendar on your phone? Cost analysis

As I had mentioned earlier, I got a Nokia 6682. Its more of a computer to me than a cell phone. I have spend sleepless nights getting accustomed with the set... believe me if you are a geek/power user, this phone is definitely for you.

Coming to the point directly, I am a heavy calendar user... particularly after the much awaited release of google calendar, all my machines run gcal directly or have clients sychronized with gcal. So with the release of GCalcSync, I was enthusiastic about getting the google calendar to work with the smartphone. Now there were two issues:
  1. I do not have wifi... well wifi phones are too clunky to carry around.
  2. I don't have data access enabled on my cell phone... am still a student and every single buck counts.... call me scrooge if you want to.
I couldn't do much about the first issue but I was ready to spend max $2/month on any application that could synchronize my cell phone calendar with gcal. The cheapest data access plan provided by Cingular (my carrier) is $5 for 5MB/month. This was out of question. Next I called the customer care rep and asked about the pay per use scheme and was informed that 1 penny/kb had to be paid. I could actually get away by paying less (as gcalcSync would be my only web app... i think :P) . All i needed now was a way to know the amount of data that would be downloaded.
I downloaded this simulator from one of the nokia forums. Just installed it on my system, started it and was presented with a mobile like UI. Then it was pretty easy to pull the jar files directly from web using the phone simulator's browser. Looks something like this:

Now I had to check the amount of data it would download in 1 synch cycle. I did not find any statistic collector on the simulator..ethreal came to rescue again. I started ethreal without any filters as I din know what to filter out or what to would the packets look like.
Next I started GcalSync, which nicely downloaded entries from gcal and updated the calendar on the simulator:

There is an obvious bug in gCalSync as it gives same the timing to all the entries...(spending even a penny on a buggy software is out of question... but what the heck, lets see what would have happened if it was not buggy).

Stopped the ethereal capture and checked out the expert info (click to enlarge):

As you can see in the figure that entries #52 and #57 is where we GET the data. If you look around, you would find that the whole transaction took place between entries #49 and #73 where the connection was established and disconnected respectively. Now we know that the transaction happened at port 3343 using TCP.... great!!!. I just plugged in the filter "tcp.port == 3343" and and got all the captured packets during the transaction.

Next I opened the statistics window which gave me the following info:

Only 5 entries were updated on the calendar (probably it gets stuff for only the next day each day) and according to the above figure the amount of bytes captured was 35989=35.14 kb. If it is synchronized everyday then I would download 1089.51 kb/month =$10.9/month ... to only synchronize my calendar with gcal!! I don't think so....
US telephony should learn something from TRAI and Indian telephony about cost effectiveness.


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