June 26, 2010
Hundreds of mostly young, patient and tech-savvy customers lined up for hours at Biltmore Fashion Park in Phoenix on Thursday to be the first to get Apple Inc's latest iPhone.
Even at lunchtime, hours after the Apple Store's 7 a.m. opening, a double line - one for those who reserved the phone and one for those who didn't - snaked from the front of the Apple Store around the corner to a sidewalk ringing the mall parking lot.
Some reports said that, after introducing the iPhone 4 model in five countries, Apple was on its way to selling a record 1 million iPhones on Thursday alone, raising concerns about supply shortages.
By 3:30 p.m. Thursday, an employee at the Biltmore store said the phone had been sold out for at least two hours. Customers who ordered one were not being promised delivery dates because the store did not know when it would get another shipment, he said.
More than 600,000 people pre-ordered the phones earlier this month, according to Apple.
The launch was the latest triumph for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company, which announced this week that it had sold 3 million iPads in the 80 days since the tabletlike product hit the market.
Although there are a few glitches, including the replacement of some SIM cards and problems using the iPhone's new antenna, customers were excited to try the new features, including video calling, high-definition recording and what Apple says is an improved crystal-clear display. The new version, which starts at $199, is thinner than its predecessor and features tougher glass in its design.
Armando Sausedo, 29, began his effort to get one at 4 a.m. Wednesday. By 11:45 a.m. Thursday, he was fifth in the line for those who hadn't pre-ordered.
He and others, including a man who had a tent and beat the crowd by arriving at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, lined up before sunrise along Camelback Road because mall management didn't want customers close to the store until it opened, Sausedo said. There were about 400 people waiting to get in when Apple employees opened up, he said.
At first, the store was allowing 15 people inside who had pre-ordered to every one who didn't.
"The crowd became irate, so they lowered it," Sausedo said. By the time he got to the front door, the ratio was two people who reserved a phone to every one who didn't.
"I did not upgrade to iPhone 3GS, so I got left behind in one upgrade," he said, adding that he was looking forward to linking the phone with other wireless Internet products. "Now that I am eligible, I definitely want one of those new phones," Sausedo added.
Sausedo was assured he would get one while he was standing in line when employees with a counter walked past him two hours before he entered the store.
"When they passed our section, we were happy," he said.
Police officers kept an eye on the store and the crowd. Water, snacks and pizza were provided to those in line under an awning that provided shade. Every time a customer was allowed in, the crowd clapped and cheered. Apple associates shook hands with the lucky ones as soon as they entered the store.
Stan Swartz, who splits his time between Phoenix and San Francisco, emerged from inside with a grin and a small iPhone box.
"I've had Apple (smartphones) since the first one," he said. Swartz paid a friend of his son $50 to stand in line for him early Thursday morning. When the iPad was released, he paid $200 for someone to save his spot.
He compared the new iPhone to his BlackBerry smartphone. The BlackBerry doesn't work well in some areas of San Francisco, and it takes more steps on the BlackBerry to perform simple tasks, including taking a photo, he said. "It's like a Volkswagen and a Rolls-Royce," Swartz said, praising Apple's customer service..
Not everyone in line was ready to try the more than 225,000 applications available for iPhone users.
"I just talk and listen to Pandora Radio," said Jonathan Ibarra, who drove from Goodyear to the Biltmore store, partly because his older iPhone had cracked. "I don't do all the techie stuff. It's just a nice phone."
New iPhone released to public
June 15, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO - Google Inc. thinks its increasingly bitter rival Apple Inc. is trying to muscle it out of the mobile-advertising competition on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
The latest dispute between the Silicon Valley powerhouses centers on a proposed change that could hobble Google's ability to sell and place ads on devices running on Apple's latest mobile-operating system, which comes out this month.
Omar Hamoui, the executive in charge of Google's newly acquired mobile-ad service, AdMob, attacked Apple's new restrictions as a threat to competition in a blog posting Wednesday. He also warned the change would decrease ad revenue flowing to the developers of iPhone and iPad applications, a scenario that could drive up the prices that consumers pay for the programs.
Apple didn't immediately return calls seeking comment.
Google paid $750 million to buy AdMob, partly because of AdMob's success selling ads on the iPhone. AdMob, founded in 2006, was so good at it that Apple wanted to buy the company before being trumped by Google last fall.
Apple has since set up its own ad service, iAd, fueling Google's suspicion that its rival wants to monopolize the commercial messages shown on the more than 50 million iPhones and iPads that have already been sold.
Under the terms of Apple's latest operating system for those devices, critical information for distributing and analyzing ads won't be shared with services owned by makers of other mobile-operating systems.
That threatens to lock out AdMob because Google's Android operating system competes with the iPhone.
That could be a blow to AdMob, which distributed 30 percent of its ads to iPhones, iPads and iPods in April. Hamoui indicated he still hopes to persuade Apple to scrap the rule change.
On the flip side, Apple's restrictions could be an advantage for smaller, independent ad networks that would still have all the usual data needed to place ads on iPhones and iPads. But that could turn out to be a handicap for mobile-advertising services seeking to be bought by a larger company such as Microsoft Corp. or Yahoo Inc.
It's unclear whether Apple will enforce the restrictions on how the ad data can be shared, said Noah Elkin, an analyst for eMarketer, a research firm.
If Apple's rules created a competitive barrier, it would likely attract the attention of antitrust regulators.
Google claims Apple's mobile-ad rules threaten competition
June 6, 2010
Arizona State University and the Arizona Guardian news organization have developed an iPhone application that allows mobile users to identify a region’s elected officials based on the global positioning systems in their smart phones.
The free Arizona Political Directory application lets users search for their federal, state and county representatives. No matter where a user is in the state, the app will identify which elected officials represent that area. The app is searchable by office, district or name, and it provides links to the officials’ websites, short biographies and contact information.
ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s New Media Innovation Lab and the Guardian news website developed the application, which also allows for database searches of Arizona’s elected officials. They are developing the same app for Motorola’s Droid phone.
“Our hope is that voters will use the app to become more engaged more often with their elected officials,” said Guardian Publisher Bob Grossfeld. “We all felt very strongly that we would make the application available for free as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to everyone who has supported the Arizona Guardian over the past 18 months.”
Grossfeld did not say how much the Guardian paid ASU for the work.
“We hired them to do the programming as a way of supporting what the Cronkite School is doing in the area of training young people for the kind of online journalism work that we do,” he said.
The application was developed by ASU graduate students Cody Shotwell and Elizabeth Hill at the New Media Innovation Lab. The student-staffed lab has been working on research and product development since it was established in 2006.
“Today, we can deliver relevant information to people when they need it — when they are engaged in an issue and want to immediately call, tweet or e-mail a representative — and where they need it based on the geographic location of the user,” lab director Retha Hill said in a prepared statement.
Hill previously was a vice president of Black Entertainment Television.
The ASU lab also has developed a green game to increase energy awareness and conducted research about how young people use new media for the Newspaper Association of American Foundation and the Gannett Co.
Gannett is the Virginia-based corporate parent of the Arizona Republic newspaper and KPNX-TV Channel 12.
The Guardian was established in January 2009 by former news staffers from the East Valley Tribune. The online news group focuses on the Arizona Legislature and politics in general. It competes with the Arizona Capitol Times.
Arizona Guardian: www.arizonaguardian.com
ASU New Media Innovation Lab: nmil.jmc.asu.edu
ASU journalism school develops iPhone app for 'Arizona Guardian' - Phoenix Business Journal
Marta Celis stood outside a Tempe Sprint store Friday morning to buy a new smartphone.
The Scottsdale resident wants to surf the Internet, text, e-mail and take the occasional picture regardless of where she is.
Celis, 28, might even dump her digital camera if the phone is good enough and the network can handle it.
"I rarely go online on the computer," said Celis, who was there to purchase the HTC EVO 4G, Sprint's newest Android phone. "So the more I can do on my phone, the better."
Celis is part of a user base becoming more comfortable with mobile devices that can take quality pictures, stream live video, handle various messaging capabilities and share that content on social-networking services.
She's also part of a massive increase in the amount of data that cellphone users are consuming.
"We're going to a mobile broadband world where your device is going to be the central point for anything that you want to do," said Chris Percy, AT&T's vice president and general manager for Arizona-New Mexico. "It's amazing what technology is going to bring."
AT&T has seen a 5,000 percent increase in data use over the past three years, Percy said.
Officials at three of the biggest carriers said they're responding to the growing data use by improving networks and offering updated mobile devices.
Sprint's EVO, for example, comes with two cameras. One of those is capable of taking 8.0 megapixel photos. And it records high-quality video. The device also works as a mobile Wi-Fi spot that can connect up to eight devices. The EVO works on both Sprint's 3G and 4G networks.
AT&T has exclusive rights to sell Apple's iPhone, which is in its third model. Verizon, meanwhile, joins Sprint in offering Android phones that are a direct competition to the iPhone.
Then there is the investment.
AT&T has spent $375 million in Arizona over the past three years, Percy said. About $175 million of that has been specific to the wireless network.
There are plans to activate more than 300 new cell sites in Arizona this year. Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff currently have 3G services, and Percy said Yuma will get it later this year.
Verizon has put $59 billion toward its network since 2000; $955 million of that was invested locally, and the company expanded in southern and northern Arizona by integrating Alltel networks. That effort is still under way in Maricopa County.
Sprint didn't provide investment numbers.
The payoff from that network spending, the companies said, is that they can keep up with the surge in data use and remain poised to stay ahead.
Percy said AT&T is focusing on improving the 3G network and offering hundreds of free Wi-Fi spots around the country to users.
He said the company's 3G network is scalable through software upgrades and can reach speeds competitive with the 4G network that Sprint and Verizon are aggressively pushing.
Iyad Tarazi, vice president of network development for Sprint Nextel, said his company has seen an overall leveling off on the voice side. Data use, however, has tripled year over year. And Tarazi said it's still early in the growth of data. He wouldn't say when or if Arizona would be getting 4G access.
Tarazi noted that a typical user still using a digital camera will wait to use a computer to handle large quantities of photo.
That's changing, he said.
"It's just a progression," Tarazi said. "The more you provide, the more people will change their behavior."
Meeting the new data appetite
NEW YORK - Cellphone companies are about to barrage consumers with advertising for the next advance in wireless network technology: "4G" access. The companies are promising faster speeds and the thrill of being the first on the block to use a new acronym.
But there's less to 4G than meets the eye, and there's little reason for people to scramble for it, at least for the next few years.
Sprint Nextel Corp. is the first carrier to beat the drum for fourth-generation wireless technology. It's releasing its first 4G phone, the EVO, on June 4.
In the fall, Verizon Wireless will be firing up its 4G network in 25 to 30 cities and probably will make a big deal of that. A smaller provider, MetroPCS Communications Inc., is scheduled to introduce its first 4G phone around the same time.
So what is 4G?
Broadly speaking, it's a new way to use the airwaves, designed from the start for the transmission of data rather than phone calls. To do that, it borrows aspects of the latest generation of Wi-Fi, the short-range wireless technology.
For consumers, 4G means, in the ideal case, faster access to data. For instance, streaming video might work better, with less stuttering and higher resolution. Videoconferencing is difficult on 3G and might work better on 4G. Multiplayer video games may benefit, too.
Other than that, it's difficult to point to completely new uses for 4G phones - things they can do that 3G phones can't.
Instead, the upgrade to 4G is more likely to enhance the things you can already do with 3G, said Matt Carter, president of Sprint's 4G division.
"View it as the difference between watching regular TV and high-definition TV," Carter said. "Once you've experienced high-definition TV it's hard to go back to standard TV. It's the same sort of thing here."
So the improvement from 3G to 4G is not as dramatic as the step from 2G to 3G, which for the first time made real Web browsing, video and music downloads practical on phones. The introduction of 3G started in earnest about five years ago, but it isn't complete - AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile USA still have little rural 3G coverage, for instance.
There's an important caveat to the claim that 4G will be faster, as well. It will definitely be faster than the 3G networks of Sprint and Verizon Wireless - about four times faster, initially. But the other two national carriers, AT&T and T-Mobile, are upgrading their 3G networks to offer data-transfer speeds that will actually be higher than the speeds 4G networks will reach this year or next.
That means that rather than focusing on real speeds, Sprint and Verizon will try to frame their marketing around the "4G" term, said Dan Hays, who focuses on telecommunications at management consulting firm PRTM.
"It's a terrible story from a consumer standpoint, because it's tremendously confusing," he said.
AT&T and T-Mobile are able to upgrade their 3G networks because they use a different 3G technology than Verizon and Sprint, which have maxed out their 3G speeds. Taking the step to 4G is natural for Verizon and Sprint, especially because they have new chunks of the radio spectrum that they want to take advantage of.
The fact that Verizon Wireless and Sprint are adding fresh spectrum may be more important than the fact that they are using it for 4G service. No matter if used for 4G or 3G, new spectrum means the companies can accommodate more data-hungry devices such as smartphones.
AT&T's network is already staggering under data congestion caused by the iPhone in New York and San Francisco. The carrier has made relieving the congestion a top priority this year, and its 3G upgrades are part of that process. (As an aside, there is a lot of talk of a coming "iPhone 4G." Apple Inc. will most likely release the fourth generation of the iPhone for AT&T's network this summer, but it's virtually certain that it will not be able to use a 4G wireless network. It likely won't be called the "iPhone 4G" either.)
There's another, more subtle benefit to 4G. While it's not always faster than the best 3G when it comes to helping you download a big file in less time, it is definitely faster in the sense that it takes less time to initiate the flow of data to you. What that means is that 4G is faster for quick back-and-forth communications. You wouldn't notice this when surfing the Web or doing e-mail: We're talking delays of 0.03 second rather than 0.15 second. But it could mean that 4G will work better for multiplayer gaming, where split-second timing is important. Even phone calls could benefit from shorter audio delays.
Sprint and Verizon are taking different routes in 4G. Sprint owns a majority of Clearwire Corp., which is building a network using WiMax technology. Once seen as very promising, WiMax looks set to be a niche technology, and WiMax devices like the Sprint EVO phone won't be able to use networks built using the dominant 4G standard, called LTE, for Long Term Evolution. Verizon and MetroPCS plan to use LTE, as does AT&T, starting next year. T-Mobile says it will probably use LTE eventually. Even Sprint hasn't ruled out using LTE eventually, because the technology has huge momentum.
In five years or so, many phones are likely to have 4G capabilities, but they'll complement it with 3G. Rather than a sudden revolution, consumers are likely to experience a gradual transition to the new technology, with increasing speeds. But for now, 4G is no magic bullet.
"It's an important thing for the industry," said Bill Davidson, senior vice president of marketing and investor relations at wireless technology developer Qualcomm Inc. "It's absolutely needed. . . . But I just think some of this has gotten a bit ahead of itself in terms of expectations for consumers."
4G wireless: It's fast, but outstripped by hype
June 4, 2010
Sprint officially launched the HTC EVO 4G smartphone on Friday with some interesting social tweaks, although users had already reported at least one bug with the phone's software.
The Sprint EVO 4G phone goes on sale today at Sprint stores for $199 after a $100 mail-in-rebate, new contract, and premium data plan. Wal-mart and Best Buy, at press time, said the two retailers would waive the need to mail in the rebate, offering the phone for a register price of $199.
Sprint's HTC EVO 4G customers can pay $69.99 for Sprint's Everything Data 450 plan, plus the $10 Premium Data add-on, totaling just $79.99 per month for unlimited Web, texting and calling. An optional charge of just $29.99 per month turns on HTC EVO 4G's mobile hotspot, allowing users to connect their laptop via Wi-Fi. But there will also be an additional $4.99 per month subscription fee will apply for a new range of advanced premium features, Sprint said, including unlimited video archiving, downloading files to a computer, and Video Mail.
The Sprint EVO 4G has already won a PCMag.com Editor's Choice award, which characterized the phone as a "big, beautiful, and powerful window to the world", capped off by its 800-by-480 TFT LCD capacitive touch screen spread across 4.3 diagonal inches of screen real estate. The "4G" designation refers to the phone's capability to pick up WiMAX signals, which Sprint provides to 33 markets, but aren't available in areas including major metropolitan markets like the San Francisco Bay Area and the New York city metropolitan area.
"4G let me do more things on the Internet at once, with improved response times," reviewer Sascha Segan wrote. "You can pretty much assume that streaming anything on the phone won't have to buffer. I streamed Rhapsody music while resolving a Google Earth page and using the phone as a hotspot with my laptop to check my e-mail.
For those that do live in a WiMAX or 4G-enabled area, however, Sprint is offering the chance for new EVO users to "claim" 4G feats via what the company is calling "firsts": the first 4G video posted from the back of a motorcycle, for example, as well as more whimsical offerings such as the first banana peeled in under four seconds, shared via 4G. Each feat offers the user a chance to add their name and share the feat, which Sprint may later highlight.
Interestingly, this reporter noticed a bug over the weekend that prevented some photos taken with the included camera phone from being saved to the included SD card. Rebooting the phone solved the problem. That glitch is now being considered a bug, one that Sprint could fix with an over-the-air update released Friday, Wired reported.
Android Central also noticed that the second, front-facing camera on the EVo 4G shoots images in reverse.
Sprint officials could not be reached for comment at press time.
In other Sprint news, the company said it would stream 56 live World Cup matches via ESPN Mobile TV at both 3G and 4G speeds.
Sprint Battles Bugs As It Launches EVO 4G Phone News & Opinion PCMag.com
June 3, 2010
by Ben Patterson Yahoo! News June 3, 20101The latest version of Skype for the iPhone will at last let you make Skype calls over AT&T's 3G network — meaning free voice calls for everyone, right? Not so fast, say Skype execs. Charges for free-for-now Skype-to-Skype calls are coming, and don't forget that AT&T is ditching its unlimited data plans. Version 2.0 of the Skype iPhone app came out Sunday, supporting the long-awaited ability to place Skype calls over AT&T's 3G data network. Under pressure from federal regulators, AT&T had actually given the green light to Skype calls last year, but the Skype app itself only worked over Wi-Fi until just now.
What's so special about Skype calls over 3G? Theoretically, it means you can bypass AT&T's voice network altogether — even when you're out of Wi-Fi range — letting you place unlimited voice calls with fellow Skype users for the low price of nothing. You can also call landlines and non-Skype users worldwide (about 30 countries are included) for about 2 cents a minute. (I use the for-pay Skype service over Wi-Fi all the time because of the terrible AT&T reception in my Brooklyn apartment.)
In practical terms, the iPhone Skype app has some limitations, though. It still doesn't support the iPhone's "push notification" feature, which pops up an alert for an app that isn't currently running — like, say, an incoming Skype call. That's the bad news. The good news is that Skype will be able to warn you of incoming calls once the new multitasking iPhone 4.0 software arrives this summer (possibly even next week).
But Skype's killer feature — free Skype-to-Skype calling — is going away sooner rather than later, at least as far as the iPhone and AT&T's 3G network is concerned. Skype has announced that it will offer free Skype-to-Skype 3G calls only "until the end of 2010," after which it will start charging a "small monthly fee." How small? No word yet. (Skype-to-Skype calls over Wi-Fi will still be free.)
Not only is the free ride ending for 3G Skype-to-Skype calls, there's also the little wrinkle of AT&T's bombshell announcement that it's phasing out its unlimited 3G data plans, starting June 7. New customers will pay $25 a month for 2GB of data, or $15 a month for 200MB, plus any overage charges ($10 for an extra GB in the case of the 2GB plan, or $15 for another 200MB for the 200MB option). If you currently have an unlimited, $30-a-month 3G plan through AT&T, you'll be grandfathered in.
So AT&T subscribers who end up with new capped data plans will find that 3G Skype calls eat into their monthly data allowances, and overage fees will loom if you're an inveterate Chatty Cathy.
Theoretically, anyway. What's the reality? How much data does a typical 3G Skype call consume?
The Skype support site covers this issue in a relatively roundabout way, estimating that if you have 20 Skype contacts, log on for 90 minutes a day, engage in 25 daily minutes of Skype text chat, and make 20 minutes of Skype calls (whether that's 20 minutes a day or a month isn't clear; I'm inclined to think it's the latter), you'll burn through "just under 1MB" of data a month.
That sounded a little low to me, so I conducted my own experiment. I reset my iPhone's data usage statistics, fired up Skype and called Moviefone for 10 minutes, occasionally tapping a number key to keep the call going. (No, I didn't do a lot of chatting on the call; I'm not much of a talker anyway, but the Moviefone guy was nattering away the entire time.)
When 10 minutes were up, I hung up and checked my 3G usage statistics: 388KB upstream, 1.8MB downstream, for a total of about 2.2MB.
So using those numbers, if I were to call Moviefone for 450 minutes a month (that's my monthly allotment of AT&T voice minutes, only a fraction of which I ever use), I'd use up close to 100MB, or half of the data allowed under AT&T's $15/month 200MB plan.
How big a problem that is depends, of course, on your monthly calling habits. If you're like me and you make maybe 30 minutes of Skype calls a month, no big deal. But if you're planning to hold lengthy daily conference calls over 3G via Skype, well ... Skype might not be much of a bargain anymore.
What do you think? Do Skype's plans for iPhone fees, combined with AT&T's new capped data plans, drain most of the appeal out of the free-for-now calling service? Or will you keep using Skype despite the upcoming fees and data caps?
• Reuters: Nearly 5 million downloaded Skype iPhone 3G app
• Skype: How much data does Skype on my mobile use?
Skype for iPhone now supports 3G, but free ride's ending - Yahoo! News
Pete Cashmore Mashable March 2010
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We hope you’ll download the app in the App Store and give us your feedback!
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