Tag Archives | Verizon

Droid Attacks iPhone

Verizon DroidVerizon Wireless, which recently announced it was hopping on the Android smartphone OS bandwagon big time, has started whetting our appetite for its first Android phone. It’s launched a TV ad for the phone, the Droid, and a teaser site. And so far, it’s mostly promoting the phone by bashing the iPhone, with pseudo-Apple text pointing out that “iDont” have a physical keyboard, (third-party) multitasking, a five-megapixel camera, much in the way of customization options, widgets, “open development,” the ability to take photos in the dark, or a removable battery. The Droid (whose name is licensed from Mr. Lucas) presumably has all of the above.

It’s an entertainingly combative ad, and a pretty effective one given that it doesn’t even show the phone (which apparently looks like this). Of course, the fact that the Droid beats the iPhone on a number of spec- and feature-related fronts doesn’t make it a breakthrough. It’s quite common for smartphones to theoretically trump the iPhone in multiple ways, but the iPhone’s level of hardware/software/service integration and the vast quantity of available apps remain unique. No other phone is going to catch up with the iPhone’s software catalog anytime soon, so if I were an Apple competitor, I’d concentrate on trying to vaunt into the same league in terms of integration. Not that that’ll be easy. The Droid arrives next month, so we won’t have to wait long to judge it.

The other interesting question about the Droid commercial is this: Does all its cheeky iPhone-bashing signal that Verizon has no plans to sell the iPhone anytime soon? It not only mocks the phone but mocks Apple in a way that suggests that it doesn’t plan to go into business with it, despite rumors. I took the implied message of the ad as being something like this: “Yes, we know that a lot of people want a Verizon iPhone, but hold on–we’re going to have a smartphone that’s better than an iPhone.”

(Then again, I’m fascinated by this Verizon ad that says a non-Verizon BlackBerry is a paperweight–it might be an effective ad, but it seems like an odd thing to do to BlackBerry maker and Verizon partner RIM.)

Anyhow, here’s the “iDon’t” ad:


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More “Details” on the Apple Tablet

ipadiLounge has a story with what it says are ten new details about the impending Apple tablet device. None of them are shockers, and most repeat tidbits that have already been out there: The site says that the gadget has a 10.7″ screen, runs iPhone OS, will be available in 3G and non-3G versions, has seven times the screen resolution of an iPhone, and will be announced on or before January 19, 2010 and ship in May or June. (It also says that it hasn’t been approved yet and the chances of it shipping are 80 percent–sounds a little iffy for a product that’s supposedly going to be announced less than four months from now.)

Assuming that iLounge is right that there will be an Apple tablet with built-in 3G networking, there’s an eleventh detail it’s not reporting: The wireless carrier that will sell the device. You gotta think that it’s going to be AT&T or Verizon–and there have been rumors for months about Verizon selling a tablet from Apple.

The part about the delay between announcement and shipment also sounds logical: Beyond any issues with wireless certification, wouldn’t Apple want to give the developers of those tens of thousands of iPhone OS apps a bit of time to make tablet-ready versions so the gizmo ships with a library of software already in place?


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Best Buy, Verizon Team on New E-Book Reader

Move over, Amazon Kindle. Best Buy and Verizon have unveiled a new e-book reader Wednesday that will sell for $399 and is built by iRex Technologies. The reader like the Kindle would be able to purchase content over the 3G network, and will be sold in about 100 of Best Buy’s locations by October.

Barnes and Noble’s e-bookstore would be used to supply the device with content, the companies said.

Verizon stands to benefit from this new device as it would receive a portion of the revenue to pay for the use of bandwidth by these devices over the network. Best Buy benefits from a device that is a direct revenue stream for them: the company is so serious about e-readers that it is specifically training its associates on how to sell the devices.

The two companies may be getting on the bandwagon at the right time. After only selling around a million of these devices in 2008, over five million are expected to be sold this year according to research firm iSuppli. Much of this increase has to do with the success of the Kindle, which has continued to sell very well by all accounts.

Regardless, the issue of price still looms large. As we reported here on Technologizer at the beginning of this month, e-readers are still too expensive for most consumers. At $400, iRex’s new reader seems to be more than twice what consumers would consider paying for a device.

These companies still need to address this issue if they plan to continue growing sales of these devices well into the future.


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The End of the Line for Landlines?

Old PhoneIvan Seidenberg thinks that more and more people are going to decide that they simply don’t need a landline telephone anymore. Which is an interesting take on things given that he’s CEO of landline giant Verizon. Over at the New York Times, Saul Hansell has posted a story in which Seidenberg says he thinks the future of wired communications will be all about using FiOS connections to deliver video. If people dump their wired phones in favor of using their cell phones as their only phones, that’s OK.

I can’t remember if I’ve told this story on Technologizer before, but I recently decided that the time was right for me to get rid of my landline and go with my cell phone full time (supplemented from time to time by Skype). After all, weeks go by when I don’t use my Comcast landline at all, and most of my incoming calls are wrong numbers or debt collectors looking for someone who apparently had the number before me. (I don’t ever give it out–in part because I can’t remember it.)

But when I called Comcast to cancel, the rep had news for me: The “triple play” bundle I subscribed to was such a fabulous deal that canceling the phone portion would…increase my monthly bill by four bucks. I’m still figuring out exactly how to respond to that, but for the moment I remain a landline subscriber and am trying to use it more to keep my AT&T minutes under control.

Anyhow, this is all leading up to a T-Poll (I did a similar one a few months ago, but I think things are shifting so rapidly that the results might be different this time):


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TiVo Loses More Customers, Sues AT&T and Verizon

TiVo SignTiVo’s quarterly call was a bit more dramatic than usual. While they continue to lose customers and innovate “at a very unhurried pace,” TiVo seeks a repeat DISH Network performance in going after AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) for infringement. Basically, TiVo’s current business model appears to be ad sales and patent trolling.

Unlike TiVo’s successful David v Goliath battle with DISH/EchoStar (SATS), things may play out a bit differently this time. First, there’s likely no smoking gun. Based on the evidence presented, it sounds like DISH may have helped themselves to an early TiVo prototype which was subsequently reverse engineered. Second, digital video recording technology may not be as patentable as TiVo would like. (Not to mention, it’s possible Judge Folsom and the Eastern District Court could run out of patience with TiVo’s community stunts and their own nationwide reputation. Then again, maybe not – these cases keep them in the spotlight and are good for the local economy.) Lastly, given the language in yesterday’s call, TiVo may just be looking to force AT&T and Verizon into some sort of licensing deal.

Another difference this time around, is that the defendants are relying heavily on third party tech. Verizon has constructed their own FiOS TV DVR software, but currently runs on Motorola hardware. AT&T’s set-top box platform is also Motorola, but the U-Verse software is largely Microsoft (MSFT). So it’ll be interesting to see how Moto and Mister Softee, plus others such as Broadcom, could be pulled into the fray. As an observer, and given TiVo’s pressure to license, I hope their contracts with DirecTV (DTV) and Comcast (CMCSA) are called into evidence.

My blogging partner Davis Freeberg has tracked down and purchased the PACER court filings so you don’t have to. Verizon here. AT&T here and below:

(Photo by Zandir; this post republished from Zatz Not Funny.)



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Take Back the Beep!

My friend David Pogue of the New York Times is a man on a mission. He’s become irate over the time that cell phone company voicemail systems spend playing a recorded message telling you to leave a message, explaining how to send a page, and suggesting that you hang up when you’re done leaving the message. The messages are pointless little annoyances every time you hear them–and since they take fifteen seconds or so to play, they eat up the monthly minutes of the person who called.

David is trying to rally phone users to bury carriers in such a surging sea of complaints that they enter the 21st century by ditching these obsolete recorded messages. It’s a great idea. His post about all this includes instructions on how to tell your carrier you’re part of the crusade.

Of course, it’s not just that 15-second message that’s irritating–voicemail systems in general tend to sport the most aggravating user interfaces this side of automated supermarket checkouts. One of the nice things about using an iPhone and/or Google Voice is getting to avoid those convoluted menus…and David says that Apple insisted that AT&T eliminate the 15-second message for iPhone voicemail. Which proves it can be done–you know of anyone who’s called an iPhone owner, been bounced into voicemail, and gotten confused by the lack of instructions?


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5Words for Wednesday, July 22nd 2009

5wordsApple-Verizon tablet rumor. Again.

Plastic Logic e-reader’s AT&T connection.

MySpace getting its own Webmail.

Chinese iPhone worker suicide drama.

Ugly Palm Pre sales estimates.

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The BlackBerry Storm Gets Cheaper

stormreviewsSo much attention is being lavished on Apple’s iPhone 3GS that it’s easy to forget that the old iPhone 3G is quite a deal at its new $99 price. And even if you never buy an iPhone, you may benefit from Apple’s price cut, since it’s inexorably going to lead to lower prices for competitive smartphones. Such as RIM’s BlackBerry Storm–which AT&T is now selling for the familiar price of $99 with a two-year contract. Verizon originally sold the Storm for $250 (before a $50 rebate) and has recently offered it for $150, so the new sticker price represents a steep discount.

Unlike most BlackBerries, the Storm was poorly reviewed; most of the real people I run into who own one don’t hate it, but they don’t rhapsodize over it, either. With the Storm now assuming the same positioning as the iPhone 3G–last year’s technology for under a hundred bucks–the big question is whether the upcoming second-generation Storm will be a smartphone that BlackBerry fans can love.


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Verizon vs. Sprint vs. AT&T

PC World LogoSprint claims to have “America’s most dependable 3G network.” Verizon says it has “America’s largest and most reliable wireless network.” AT&T says it has “the nation’s fastest 3G network.” With wireless, in other words, everybody’s a winner–if you ask the carriers themselves.

Which is why I admire what Mark Sullivan and my other PC World pals did: compare the three carries for upload speed, download speed, and reliability in thirteen cities. PCW conducted this ambitious real-world experiment in partnership with Novarum, using  Ixia’s IxChariot tool. As Mark says in his story, the results are only a snapshot of how the networks did on a given day, in the particular locations in the specific cities that PCW and Novarum visited. But they’re interesting nonetheless. And they tend to jibe with some of the anecdotal impressions that folks have about the three carriers:

–The performance varied a lot from city to city.

–Out of the 13 cities, Verizon got the highest reliability rating in seven and Sprint got the highest one in six. AT&T didn’t score highest in reliability in any cities, and was often far behind its two competitors.

–Verizon got the highest download score in seven cities; Sprint scored highest in four; AT&T in two.

–AT&T had the highest upload score in ten cities; Sprint was highest in two; Verizon in only one.

The most notable result is AT&T’s lackluster download score. AT&T told PCW that it stands by its claim of being the nation’s fastest 3G provider, based on results from two independent firms and tests involving a million road miles and a million data sessions. I don’t dispute its stance. But PCW’s experiment is a useful reminder that claims about “America” or “the nation” may or may not reflect what you get in your own hometown. And it might help to explain why AT&T is the only one of the big three carriers who never talks about dependability or reliability in its ads.


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5Words for Friday, June 12th 2009

5wordsFriday? Already? That was fast…

New iGoogle for phones.

Twitter verified accounts: really verified?

Will Palm’s Pixie ever ship?

Why’s Snow Leopard so cheap?

Goodbye analog TV, old firend.

Pre gets Missing Sync utility.

And Evernote’s cool note taker.

Verizon Pre in January. Maybe.

Itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny display.

11 million Safari 4 downloads.


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