Thursday, February 24, 2011

Problems Arrive with the First Windows Phone 7 Update

The very first Windows Phone software update is circulating the airwaves right now, and everybody is eagerly awaiting all the details on what it offers, how it works, how smooth it is or if it is a big waste of time. While this update has been highly anticipated since it was first mentioned, it has not, unfortunately, gone smoothly for everybody.

Thanks to recent reports about the new software update to the phone, there seem to be at least three distinct failure modes with two of them being fairly easy to fix. According to company estimates, about 10% of users attempting to update their software encountered a problem. Of those 10%, however, nearly half failed the update because they had a poor connection to the internet or lacked enough disk space.

Apparently, the update makes a backup of the phone's contents in case something awful happens. Everybody else probably falls under the issue affecting "a small number" of Samsung devices, an issue the company is working furiously to fix. In the meantime, the update has been turned off for those devices.

In lay terms, when you get the prompt to install your update, Microsoft will send you a nice message that recommends that you have the necessary hard drive space on your PC as well as a strong connection to the internet. Around 90% of users were successful in installing the update which is excellent news considering this is the very first update for the device.

Source: Engadget - Microsoft details Windows Phone 7 update problem, 'small number' of Samsungs affected is news of, for and by SMBs! The Small & Medium Business Magazine!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Speculations for a Cheaper iPhone

On Thursday, February 10, Bloomberg reported that Apple is working on some different versions of the iPhone. These new versions will be cheaper (like around $200), feature a CDMA/GSM dual-mode, and have a “universal SIM.”

The report has not yet been confirmed by Apple, but it is saying that the new, cheaper iPhone should be out this summer. They did add though that there is always a chance that a device such as this could be postponed or cancelled.

The report from Bloomberg claims that the cheaper iPhone would be smaller and cost around $200. The report goes on to say that you will not need to purchase a contract, but it will include certain aspects of today’s iPhone. It is also believed that Apple is working on a dual-mode CDMA-GSM phone, as well as a “universal SIM” that would allow users to switch between GSM networks. This would be accompanied by software that would give users the ability to configure their own phones.

Now the universal SIM technology seems to be confirmed by a patent of Apple that was described as “dynamic carrier selection.” What this would do is allow users to pick which wireless carrier they wanted to use for their service plan depending on quotes that they received from each different carrier.

"According to one embodiment of the invention, access to a wireless cellular communication network can be provided by storing a network address on a mobile device," the patent reads. "The network address can identify a mobile virtual network operator server storing mobile network operator data for use by the mobile device. A request for network operator data can be sent from the mobile device to the mobile virtual network operator server, and in response to the request, network operator data can be received. A network operator for the mobile device can be selected based on the received network operator data, and communications can be conducted using the selected network operator."

Now that Verizon Wireless is providing a Verizon iPhone, the biggest complaint about the iPhone seems to be the price. Right now, the iPhone is available from Verizon and AT&T for $199 with a contract and $699 without. Compared to the competition though, the iPhone doesn’t seem that expensive. Right now, the Droid Incredible from HTC is costing users $299 with a contract.

There are some issues with a cheaper iPhone though. It would have to be manufactured in an extremely cheap fashion without sacrificing any of the iPhone’s quality. This would have to happen if Apple were to maintain its profit margins. The profit margins that Apple has are some of the highest in the industry.

According to an analysis that was released by IHS iSuppli on Thursday, February 10, if Apple wished to produce a phone that was on par with the iPhone 4 in all ways, the company would have to spend $178.45 per phone to produce them.

"With the CDMA iPhone 4, Apple Inc. has shown once again that it never recycles a product design," said Andrew Rassweiler, senior director, teardown services, for IHS, in a statement. "Apple's new designs always exhibit changes, evolution and optimization. This approach is evident not only in the antenna design but also in items like the integrated GPS functionality and the shrinking of the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo module. As we dig deeper into our teardown analysis, we're certain that we will find a host of other tweaks all designed to improve quality but keep costs on a steady path of decline."

In Bloomberg’s report though, they claimed that the new, cheaper phone would be close to a third smaller than the iPhone 4. Why is this important? Well, according to iSuppli, the 3.5 inch, 960 x 640 screen of the iPhone 4 costs $37.80 and is the second most expensive component of the device. So if the new iPhone’s screen is a third of the size of the iPhone 4’s, that could really cut some cost.

It will be really interesting to see where Apple goes with these possibilities for the iPhone. Of course all of this could be rumor, but it all seems to make sense and match up with what we know that Apple is patenting and working on right now. Hopefully it really will be summer when we see this new iPhone, but until we hear something from Apple, I guess we are going to be left in the dark. is news of, for and by SMBs! The Small & Medium Business Magazine!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pre 2 Shipping February 17th

Palm Pre 2A lot of people predicted it and a lot of people were correct, the Verizon Pre 2 will be shipping out to customers willing to lay down $99 and sign a 2-year contract on February 17th. If you want the phone but don't feel like throwing your name down on a contract, you can expect to fork over $439.99. If you want to, you can reserve one now at HP's web store and only there due to the fact that Verizon's online store doesn't have a pre-order.

The Pre 2 may get passed over by a lot of people due to two main things: the fact that Verizon just launched their iPhone and the fact that the Pre 3 was just announced as well, which will have a larger screen, better keyboard, dual cameras, video calling and a lot more. Now the Pre 3 isn't set to release until the summer and the only other information is that it will be EVDO Rev A. It is still unclear whether or not Verizon will pick it up.

Questions have emerged as to whether or not HP and Verizon should release the Pre 2 with all the newer devices coming out soon. When HP was approached with that very same question, they responded, "some people want a slightly smaller phone with a slightly smaller screen."

That seems like a pretty weak explanation to me. I mean, since when does anybody prefer things to be smaller? Nevertheless, reports are coming in from different places from companies that have already gotten a chance to use the Pre 2 and test it out. There have been the occasional bugs with webOS 2.0.1 but the general consensus is that the Pre 2 is a big step forward from the Pre Plus. One plus is that HP's Mobile Hotspot application, which allows you to tether as many as five devices via WiFi, isn't going to cost you a dime over your standard data plan.

What about you? Are you excited for the Pre 2 or are you going to wait for the iPhone 4 or Pre 3? Let us know in the comment section below.

Source: Pre Central - HP puts Verizon Pre 2 on pre-order - $99 on contract, ships Feb 17th

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Will BlackBerries and Androids Soon Be a Thing of the Past?

The United States has just released the results of a recently conducted, extremely extensive survey of AT&T and Verizon Wireless smartphone customers. The results seem to suggest that come February 10, the day that Verizon’s iPhone is released, there will be quite a few drastic changes in the smartphone world.

The survey that was conducted by uSamp, “one of the world’s fastest growing technology and online sample companies,” who questioned 727 AT&T and Verizon smartphone users. The results were fascinating.

The survey showed that 54 percent of Verizon customers who owned BlackBerry or Android phones said that they were either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to switch to the iPhone 4 on the launch day alone. However, another 33 percent said that they were “very unlikely” or “somewhat unlikely” to jump to the new device that will be offered at Verizon on the launch day, but that doesn’t mean those people won’t be looking to switch a little later after the device's debut.

Now, to break this down a little bit more, there were 66 percent of Verizon users who have BlackBerries who said that they would be likely or somewhat likely to purchase a Verizon iPhone 4 on its launch day. When the same question was asked of Verizon Android users, the numbers dropped to 44 percent. In total, there were a whole 24 percent of existing Verizon users that said that they were going to make the switch on launch day and planned on even standing in line in order to pick up a new device.

So what is the big reason for the switch? Well, according to 60 percent of all of the BlackBerry and Android users that were surveyed, the biggest reason seemed to be the difference in interface. It seemed as though those users preferred iPhone 4’s web browsers. Also, media, which includes a phone’s ability to easily play or transfer media, seemed to be causing BlackBerry and Android users to switch as well.

However, despite all these reasons that are causing users to want to switch platforms, there is a huge factor that is causing many users to stick to their current devices…price. More than half of the Verizon customers that were surveyed, 64 percent, claimed that the cost of the device by Apple was the largest reason as to why they would not be making the switch. To add to this, 41 percent—when asked if they were having any second thoughts about switching to Verizon’s iPhone 4 after learning more about it—said that the cost of the device and the data plans associated with the device were still a very large roadblock in preventing them from making up their minds about whether or not to make the switch.

On the other side of things, the survey didn’t show as many interested AT&T users as I expected. Only 26 percent of AT&T customers surveyed said that they were “likely” or “somewhat likely” to buy the Verizon iPhone 4 on the launch day. The survey confirmed that the main reason that AT&T’s iPhone customers want to switch is because they are tired of dealing with dropped calls on AT&T’s network. So what’s holding them back? A whole 45 percent of those surveyed said the cost of the transition was just too much and that it was definitely holding them back from jumping at the opportunity to have an iPhone with Verizon service.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lawsuit Filed Against AT&T Over Inflated Data Charges

A man from California is filing a suit against AT&T saying that their data charges for Apple’s iPhone and iPad are inflated.

Patrick Hendricks, the frustrated AT&T customer that filed the suit, claims that the billing system that AT&T has adopted for their data plans is like a “rigged gas pump.” Hendricks is an AT&T iPhone user with a $15 per month data plan that allows him 200MB of data transactions. He said that late last year AT&T charged him for 259 individual data transactions that totaled 223MB; however, according to court documents, Hendricks claims that “many of these charges were phantom data transactions” that never really occurred.

A two-month review of Hendricks’s claim and other aspects surrounding the claim was conducted by an independent consulting firm that was hired by Hendricks’ lawyers. According to the lawsuit that was filed on Thursday, January 30, 2011 in the California district court, the consulting firm found that AT&T consistently overcharges their customers for their data plans by 7 to 14 percent.

The suit said that this proves that “AT&T's bills systematically overstate the amount of data used on each data transaction involving an iPhone or iPad account.”

After the filing of the suit, AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

Hendricks not only accuses AT&T of billing him for phantom data usage, but also for consistently overbilling him for legitimate data usage. The consulting firm that was investigating for Hendricks went to an AT&T store and purchased a iPhone. They then proceeded to turn off push notifications, location services, closed all apps, and did not enable e-mail on the phone. After a ten day trail period, AT&T still charged the phone for 35 data transactions that totaled 2,292KB of usage.

Hendricks said that although the overbilling really just has a “modest effect” on customers, for AT&T there is a “huge effect.” He claims that AT&T is receiving a “significant portion” of their data revenues from these inflated data transactions.

What Hendricks is really actually suing for is a breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and a few other things. Hendricks says that he wants damages as well as costs.

AT&T announced in June 2010 that it was revamping its system for the data plan lineups. The company decided to adopt a metered usage model in place of their old methods. They offered their customers 200MB of data for $15 per month, 2GB of data for $25 per month, and a tethering plan for $20 per month. They did allow for their existing customers to keep their unlimited data plans. There have also been recent reports that said that AT&T also allowed any of their customers who had downgraded their data plan within the last year to return to their unlimited status.

In late October the FCC said that to settle the compliant issues about the incorrect data charges Verizon Wireless would be forced to pay $25 million. This came just a few weeks after Verizon had said that they would issue refunds to over 15 million different customers who had found mistakes with their phone bills.

"Verizon Wireless works very hard to simplify the wireless experience for customers and to ensure that customer bills are accurate," Verizon said in a statement. "Nonetheless, internal billing processes can be complex and, in this case, we made inadvertent billing mistakes. We accept responsibility for those errors and apologize to our customers who received accidental data charges on their bills."

"We are notifying eligible current and former customers that we are applying credits to their accounts or sending refunds in October and November," the company said. "Current customers will be notified in upcoming bills; former customers will receive a letter and refund check in the mail. In most cases these credits and refunds are in the $2 to $6 range; some will receive larger amounts."

The settlement "sends a clear message to American consumers: The FCC has got your back," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement. "People shouldn't find mystery fees when they open their phone bills – and they certainly shouldn't have to pay for services they didn't want and didn't use. In these rough economic times, every $1.99 counts."

"Today's settlement also includes strong FCC oversight and accountability to ensure that Verizon Wireless fully repays what they owe to their customers and puts new measures in place to improve customer service," he said.

More recently than all of this stuff with Verizon, Microsoft has said that there have been inefficiencies between the synchronization of e-mail between the Windows Phone Mail client and Yahoo Mail, and this resulted in a much larger than expected data usage for certain users.

It looks as though AT&T will definitely be shelling out some big bucks when all of this is settled. It may just take a while to make it through the legal system.

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