Unlimted plans popping up everywhere

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As I alluded to yesterday, the wireless companies did react to Verizon’s unlimited offerings with plans of their own. AT&T essentially matched the $99 voice plan but only for non smartphone users, which is ridiculous as most power users don’t use flip or candy bar phones. As expected, soon thereafter T-Mobile matched the $99 a month price with unlimited SMS and MMS added as well. T-Mobile has always had the best value plans and have had to because they dont offer much else, so it was a no brainer that they would not only match but outdo their wireless counterparts.

Verizon just saved customers millions of dollars and companies all across the U.S. just saw their bottom line decrease and thats a beautiful thing in these uneasy financial times. I can guarantee that not one of the other wireless companies wanted this to happen as this will cut into profits and possibly affect ARPU (Avg revenue per unit) which is a barometer that wall street pays very close attention to. Verizon must feel that their buzz has been killed due to the announcements today but maybe being out in front on this will have its advantages. CHURN (customer turnover) rates should be very interesting for Q1 2008, as these plans could cause a large number of defectors.

Lets hope these type of changes in the mobile world are only the beginning and we start to see features like the Blackberry service drop to a far more reasonable rate

T-Mobiles plans start on Thursday the 21st of February
AT&T’s bogus version launches on Friday the 22nd of February
Verizon pulled the trigger yesterday and should be applauded for helping all this happen.

SideNote: Where is Sprint in all this? If any wireless company needed a boost they do and this can only be bad news for an already struggling company.


Verizon’s unlimited bonanza

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On Tuesday, February 19 Verizon will not only be launching an unlimited voice plan but 5 additional plans that add various features as well. Obviously this announcement is huge in the mobile world as this is the first major carrier that has done this and at the price point that they are talking about, they could eliminate any and all competition. Hopefully this will start a new era where we actually are charged more like a land line and features will no longer have limits (Hint Hint AT&T).

Obviously these plans aren’t for everyone but its a step in the right direction considering how little the wireless companies pay for minutes (pennies for a few hundred) of course they do have some overhead like the private jets and all the money they have to give to J.D. Power for all those ‘impartial’ awards.

Here are the rumored plans courtesy of BGR via Engadget via some dude on the street corner telling us that the world is gonna end in the near future.

  • $99 – Nationwide Unlimited
  • $119 – Nationwide Select Unlimited – Voice, SMS, MMS
  • $139 – Nationwide Premium – Voice, SMS, MMS, VZNav, VCAST, and Email
  • $149 – Nationwide Email and Messaging -Voice, SMS, MMS, and Data
  • $169 – Nationwide Global Email and Messaging -Voice, SMS, MMS, and International Data
  • $199 – Family plan with two lines, $99 per additional line.

Rumors are that the 5gb data cap is also lifted and that no contract extension will be necessary for existing customers and either one or two year contract options for new customers. This would also include nationwide long distance and the all you can eat roaming buffet but thats kinda a given if you ask me.

The Verizon website has all the info as well as another one of those models posing with a cell phone having the time of her life but this one seems to be hiding something in her left hand as the entire arm is hidden. Perhaps Verizon got a discount on a one handed model and came up with this pose specifically to hide this frugal attempt at marketing. Heck anyone that can laugh while wearing 6 inch heels after losing her hand is O.K. in my book, way to go one arm Verizon model lady.

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Mobile phone industry trends

Trends in the modern mobile phone industry continue to baffle those that have been paying close attention for the past 5-6 years. Why touch sensitive interfaces have become the norm is surprising, mostly because the technology has been around for so long, just ask Palm. I know that the iPhone is a good looking device and due to its design couldn’t really have that many tactile buttons. But what I don’t understand is why every other handset maker has jumped on the bandwagon and now everything is touch screen this and touchscreen that. 4 million units sold for Apple’s first foray into the mobile marketplace is a nice start but far from one of the best selling handsets of all time.

The main reason why I am not a fan of the touch interface is that I don’t want to be touching my screen with my hands, mostly because I don’t want to get it dirty or scratched. My goal with every mobile phone I own is to preserve the ability to see what is on the screen clearly and without distractive smudges that need to be wiped off all the time.

I am big proponent of clean lines and minimalism in regards to design but lets take a moment and realize its still a phone and not a piece of art. Unfortunately just like art, once a movement find success many jump on the bandwagon and attempt to recreate or just plain copy the original concept. Of course this tends to saturate the market and before long all phones start to look alike.

Change for the sake of change is also a dangerous road to venture down as well, case in point the Blackberry. They are now eliminating the scroll wheel, the single best mobile navigation device, on its new models. RIM’s decision to go to a joystick system is being received coldly and for good reason, the scroll wheel is perfect for one handed copy and pasting not to mention selection of multiple items which is essential on a mobile office type device. Reasons for the change revolves around aesthetic appeal and symmetry of the overall device. A case of form over function if I’ve ever seen one. RIM also made in my opinion the best keyboard ever for a smartphone (7730) and it has yet to appear on another model.

This is an amazing time for the mobile industry as all the features we have dreamed about for years are becoming standard. Phones now have great optics, fast data speeds, GPS, massive internal storage, MP3 and HD Video and the list goes on and on. With all of these advancements it would be a shame if everyone tried to emulate only one type of software instead of experimenting with innovative interfaces that could shape the mobile industry for the next decade.

 


T-Mobile is launching 3G……but this time its for realz

T-Mobile’s CEO Hamid Akhavan decided to remind the world that they still plan on launching a 3G network in the US, hopefully by late summer. The CEO also claimed that it will be “the best 3G network in the country.”

I guess the 14 month delay in the launch of the service were spent testing and not just playing Scrabulous on Facebook as had been rumored. Of course if and when T-Mobile launches their super duper special 3G network virtually every other major network will be deploying 4G. So to say they are a tad late to the table would indicate they actually know what a table is and clearly that is not the case. T-Mobile also announced the future launch of an Android-based handset by the end of 2008, so expect that around 2010 sometime…maybe.

Other new developments on T-Mobile’s horizon:

A new 8 track mobile music phone

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Yahoo announces oneConnect service

Yahoo! announced the launch of a mobile website called oneConnect, which will combine email, instant messaging, text messaging, and social networking all in one platform. The oneConnect product will be part of Yahoo Go 3.0 and Yahoo’s new mobile home page in the second quarter of this year. In looking at the website it isn’t clear what is all that new about this service but there are attractive women looking very intently at the screens of various mobile devices. I wouldn’t want to speculate what these attractive woman are looking at but I don’t believe that I have ever witnessed women looking so darn sexy with a cell phone in their hands when all of a sudden I wonder if they are really models and that the whole thing isn’t a charade just for our benefit. Oh Yahoo!, I feel used and I am not even one of your stock holders.

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Blackberry’s go dark and users go beserk

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Blackberry service went down for about 12 hours yesterday and once again the wolves were nipping at RIM’s jugular. Some don’t seem to believe it was due to a software upgrade as that is just too similar to the 2007 outage. Others just want to vent their anger because they have come to depend on this service and don’t want to think it as unreliable in any way. I personally think that 28 hours of downtime in 8+ years is a pretty impressive track record and just indicates how reliable they have been.

And yet I kept looking to the screen hoping to see a flood of backlogged emails coming through, and yet nothing happened. I ponder what might have happened if the outage had lasted much longer to not only me but to our nations capitol where these devices would need to be surgically detached from most users. Would it be like the Old Testament, real wrath-of-God type stuff? With fire and brimstone coming down from the skies? Would rivers and seas begin to boil? Possibly a start of forty years of darkness? Would there be earthquakes and volcanoes… and would the dead begin rising from the grave? Perhaps even dogs and cats would start living together and thus create mass hysteria. Probably not, but hey its kinda fun to write about politicians being completely lost without instant access to corporate and government email systems.

Hey it wasn’t all bad, it gave power users the opportunity to get one of those BlackBerry Massages that all the kids are talking about. No word on if a happy ending is included but it can’t hurt to ask.

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SonyEricsson’s Xperia X1 – A new era has just begun

 

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SonyEricsson has just rocked the mobile phone world with the announcement of the stunningly gorgeous Xperia X1 Smartphone that is set to launch in the 3rd Quarter of 2008. Without a doubt this has to be one of the best looking phones ever produced and with its unbelievably slick slide out QWERTY keyboard one of the best designed as well. The all metal case will keep fingerprints from showing in addition to giving it added strength and security. All this with a wide screen display and Windows Mobile 6 and you have what can only be described as the next big thing in the mobile industry.

There have been whispers that SonyEricsson is taking Nokia head on this year and if this is any indication of what is in the pipeline then Nokia might be looking over it’s shoulders more than at any time in their past. Competition breeds innovation and this can only be seen as a good thing in the mobile phone world.

SonyEricsson has launched a mini site for the Xperia X1 and be advised that drooling on your keyboard is virtually guaranteed as this phone could grace the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover and you wouldn’t hear many complaints… its that beautiful! That sound you heard was Steve Jobs vomiting in his mouth as he just realized SonyEricsson just made Apple its bitch. If you don’t believe me just check the specs below:

  • 3″ 65K WVGA Screen with 480 x 800 Resolution
  • 3.2 MP Camera: Flash / 3X Zoom / Auto-Focus / Video Recorder / Video Calling
  • AOL, ICQ, Windows Live and Yahoo! IM
  • GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 / UMTS 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100
  • HSDPA, HSUPA, and UMTS
  • A full slide-out QWERTY keyboard
  • High Quality metal-finish
  • Windows Mobile 6
  • Optical joystick navigation
  • 400.0 MB internal memory with Memory Stick input
  • POP3 / IMAP4 / SMTP / Outlook Mobile / Push Email
  • Handwriting recognition
  • aGPS
  • Bluetoothâ„¢ stereo (A2DP)
  • WLAN
  • USB mass storage
  • Modem
  • Java w/ J2ME / Mascot Capsule 3D Games Platform
  • Radio – FM radio RDS
  • Speaker phone
  • Flight Mode
  • MP3 Player: MP3 / AAC / AAC+ / eAAC+ / m4a / PlayNow
  • Push To Talk
  • Video Conferencing

I want one now please, seriously if anyone has a test unit and is in the need of a kidney drop me an email cause this phone will be mine.

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Microsoft purchases Danger

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In a move that shocked virtually everyone, the Redmond based software company purchased the mobile phone company Danger who’s lone product is the SideKick. Some speculate that Microsoft is trying to compete with the likes of Apple and Google by purchasing a ready made market of young mobile phone users.

However, many pieces of this puzzle don’t seem to fit as Microsoft has its own highly successful mobile operating system and with this purchase is essentially just buying a software company that doesn’t manufacture anything. If they are doing this to create the Zune phone, then this also makes no sense as the form factor is decidedly different between the two devices. As the previous founders of Danger ran off to the Google Android project there is speculation that Microsoft purchased the company for no other reason than its cheap price and/or to keep it out of the hands of Google which had been speculated to be vying for the company since last summer.

As of this moment there are about 1.2 million SideKick customers who are mostly on the T-Mobile network. Its revenues just eclipsed the 50 million mark but profitability still eludes the Palo Alto based company. They have had numerous problems with the manufacturing side of the business which has most recently been taken on by Motorola from the previous disastrous relationship with Flextronics.

The device has had a host of problems most notably its reliability as two SideKicks must be manufactured for every customer based upon warranty returns. Microsoft could be seeing them as a diamond in the rough, thinking that if the manufacturing process can be improved and if its next version of the Windows Mobile OS can be adapted to the device it could become a successful foray into the mobile phone landscape, something they have been looking to do for some time.

Update: The sale price is reported to be in the $500 million range and is equal to how much loose change Bill Gates found in his sofa recently. My guess of $12.50 and a coupon for half off an oil change at Jiffy Lube was misguided and grossly inaccurate.


Introducing the Nokia N96

 

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Nokia got beat to the punch by the blogosphere in the past day or so with leaked photos of the soon to be announced N96. Details are somewhat limited but what has been leaked is very interesting. This product launch seems to be taking a swift kick at the upcoming Apple announcement regarding the update to the Jesus Phone. Nokia is seemingly meeting or beating all the updates that Apple has in store and this just might be the main reason this phone has been ‘leaked’ in the first place.

  • Large 2.8″ screen
  • 16 gigabytes
  • Supports 8GB microSDHC Cards
  • WLAN and HSDPA support
  • USB 2.0
  • 5 megapixel Carl Zeiss camera, 30 frames per second video
  • Integrated A-GPS
  • Nokia Maps including satellite views optional turn-by-turn mode and voice guided navigation
  • A unique feature is a built in stand that allows for table top viewing

As with every recent Smart Phone launch this model will focus on high quality video with on-board editing options for easy You Tube Video uploads. Of course it won’t include a journalism degree so don’t expect the quality of said videos to increase any time soon and one has to ask if You Tube really needs more mediocre videos.

Hopefully more specifics will come out in the next days about this update to incredibly popular Nokia N95.


Top 5 Fugliest Cell Phones

I’m a fan of great design and only recently has this become a priority for cell phone manufactures, luckily the launch of the iPhone changed all that and the boring rectangle phone with no character is soon becoming a thing of the past. However that doesn’t mean that everyone’s tastes are the same and a quick look at what passes as a mobile phone nowadays sure reinforces that theory. So without further ado here are my choices as the Fugliest Cell Phones on the market today.

xpress.jpg5. The Nokia 5300 XpressMusic –
The First indication of the fugliness are the color options available to the consumer that include only Lilac and Black. This phone is advertised as the perfect marriage of music and style. I am not sure if it plays music all that well but I beg differ on that next part, I thought they passed a truth in advertisement law that disallowed such blatant misinformation. I mean this looks like someone trying to fit a square peg in a round whole. It looks like to phones stuck together…two ugly phones at that.

skunk-phone.jpg4. Samsung T639 aka the stinky phone – Not sure what Samsung was thinking when they decided to make a cell phone that looks like a skunk. Maybe the designer is from France and has a Peppy la Pew cartoon fetish but here in the states we associate skunks with an offensive odor. Maybe I am looking at this the wrong way, perhaps what they were trying for is more of a skid mark stripe down the middle, not sure if that makes it any better or worse…ok probably worse but hey I didn’t design it Samsung did.

diane-von-furstenberg-sidekick.jpg3. SideKick Diane von Furstensburg Edition – The scariest part of this model is the fact they paid a designer to make this one look better. I don’t know if she was going for the look of a blown up Kermit the Frog but that was the end result. Hey I am sure this appeals to quite a few people out there, like the Blind!! To be honest I hadn’t heard of Mrs. Von Furstenburg so I had to Google her and what I found out is that she makes dresses, well I for one am encouraging her to stick to that and stay away from anything that someone will actually use more than once.

vertu.jpg2. Nokia Vertu aka The Cobra Phone – In what is the most expensive phone on the list and in the world, the $300,000 (not a misprint) cell phone just might be the definition of whats wrong with the world of excess. With one pear cut diamond, one round diamond, two emeralds eyes and 439 rubies one might think this phone is elegant, that is unless you’ve seen that large purple and gold cobra seemingly super glued right on top of the face. With that price tag the possibilities were endless and unfortunately all this phone needs is a swift end to its existence.

nokia-prism.jpg1. Nokia 7500 aka The Prism Phone – This is the problem with geometric shapes, some designers tend to get obsessed with them and before long you have something that looks more like a math problem than a mobile phone. I wonder if this was the same guy that was really into triangles on Seinfeld and ended up with a Junior Mint somewhere near his spleen courtesy of Kramer. I think it looks like the middle of a operation gone horribly wrong. The only person that bought this phone lives in Germany is names Klaus and wears rubber pants far too often.