Archive for the 'Mobile Phones' Category


Dear John: (An Open Letter to Verizon Wireless)

Dear Verizon Wireless,

We’ve spent the past seven years together and it’s been pretty o.k. We’ve had some good times. I remember when I first got you… (your name was Bell Atlantic Mobile back then). But you adopted this new name and a bunch of folks making “v signs” with their fingers made me feel a bit more comfortable. You had some o.k. devices — there was the wonderful Motorola 8160. Oh, how small and cute it was. Then we shared the V60, which was a nice change of pace. I didn’t know who LG was at the time, but I trusted you with the V6000 camera phone. And it paid off. We had a great year with that one.

Well, I’ll just say it. I’m leaving you. Actually did already. (You’ll see my unretrieved voicemails on the floor Monday morning.) Don’t cry, Verizon. It’s not you….it’s me. I needed more. I needed a change. Things weren’t happening with us. You weren’t paying attention to my needs. After seven years, I feel that I at least need to offer you an explanation….

It was after the V6000 that things started to change. The landscape of technical devices was changing. Devices were getting sexier….and you didn’t seem to care much about your appearance. Sure, the other companies didn’t have as wide and as strong a network as you did. But you stopped considering my needs. I’m a tech enthusiast. When a new device is coming out, I want in. And not a year later, either.

I was happy when you made the decision to exclusively carry the Motorola V710. It was a bit bulky, but a sexy device no less. You dishonesty about bluetooth and telling me that bluetooth was just a mechanism to talk via a wireless headset and not the technology that it truly is — a mechanism to transfer files, data, etc. — upset me. I was thinking that things were changing. But they weren’t. You were still moving ahead with your controlling ways.

My confidence in you hit an all time low when the other companies were courting the Motorola Razr and you were folding your arms in the corner and refused to sell it to me. You kept saying that the Razr breaks and that it’s not as sexy as I think it is. As if you knew what I wanted better than I did. Of course you secured the Razr about a year later, but the bad taste in my mouth was beginning to get really stale. Continue reading ‘Dear John: (An Open Letter to Verizon Wireless)’


iWait….and iBlame

Well, it has to be all over the news now… The iPhone is launched. Loads of people went out to buy it. However, many of them can’t use it because of activation issues. It’s funny — this is the thing that concerned me and a lot of other folks the most. How is Apple going to sell all of these phones and activate them? What I didn’t understand at the time was that the plan was for the user to activate the phone at home — pretty good plan….. if it works.

AT&T was the most malleable of the mobile phone partners that Apple could have chosen. They probably were selected largely because they agreed to let Apple do what they wanted with the phone’s design and integration with the network. However, the fact remains that AT&T is still a mobile phone company and don’t really have expertise in delivering a good customer service experience.

The iPhone doesn’t unlock any of it’s features until you activate the phone under a mobile service contract. For those establishing new service, that doesn’t seem to be a problem. For those transferring service from one AT&T phone to another, that seems to be slightly less of an issue. But for those brave souls like myself and so many others who decided that wherever Apple goes must not be that bad and I shall follow…..well, we kinda are getting screwed a bit. You start the activation in iTunes and it gets to a point where they take your existing information for your mobile phone provider and attempt to activate your new iPhone. I thought this was a bit dodgy when I first heard about it….. Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon just handing over a ton of customers without a fight? But then I watched the video on Apple’s homepage. The guy with the Steve Jobs outfit who demos the phone said that it would be an easy conversion. Ummm, OK. If you say so. But clearly after waiting…(let’s see…..) almost 12 hours, clearly that isn’t the case.

So Who’s to Blame

There’s a lot of blame to go around here. Let’s start with AT&T.


If you’re AT&T, I must say, you have to be a tad embarrassed. I mean, after all, this is your business. This is the only thing that you do in the equation. You didn’t design the phone. You didn’t design the interface. All you had to do was make sure that people would be able to use the devices, and you couldn’t quite make that happen. Not a great way to start a relationship. I had AT&T Wireless many years ago, but I don’t even count that experience because my phone was about the size of a VHS tape and the battery lasted about 5 hours if I didn’t use the phone and 1/2 an hour if I decided I might want to talk on it. But nonetheless, after 10 years, it seems like the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. Continue reading ‘iWait….and iBlame’


iPhone Line at Short Hills

It’s been a long night… first off, I’m happy to report that my experience in acquiring the iPhone was pretty ok….

Got to the Short Hills, NJ Apple Store at about 12:30 and there were about 60 people hugged around the wall and snaked around the mall in front of me. Brilliantly, I picked up a chair that I was going to use for the PS3 launch (you know, one of those expandable things) but I felt sort of elitist watching everyone else standing up and sitting down (and then laying down as time dragged on) but I’ve been through this before (Xbox 360, PS2, Dreamcast, Nintendo Wii, PSP, etc.)

The best thing about waiting was that two of my best buds from my old job came down and spend some time with me. You know you have good friends when they’ll stand and talk with you on line for an hour while you wait on the geek line — and they’re not even getting the phone themselves. Dwan, Alf – you guys are the best.

Very interesting group of folks that I waited with. I was in a bit of a ‘don’t-feel-like-chatting’ mode on Friday, so I just kinda observed. One thing about Short Hills is that it’s located in a very posh area of NJ. Put it this way — there’s no food court. You just kinda have Au Bon Pan and other upscale and overpriced places to dine. But it would seem that this was the best place to wait because combine the Mac-ish 60s culture with rich folks who can’t conceive of taking something that isn’t yours and you have probably the exact opposite of the 5th Ave. Apple Store experience. Lots of people were leaving their laptops unattended while they went to the bathroom. Very cool atmosphere in Short Hills.

Very bohemian atmosphere, but what else would you expect from the Mac culture. It was actually kind of annoying. They spend their time trying to explain everything to you as if nobody else reads the rumor sites…. I stood next to a kid and his dad. The kid was cool — had a Dell XPS 17″ (the screen was incredible) and he connected to the wi-fi and played World of Warcraft right there next to me. (Now I know why I’ll never play — it looks nice, but I spend my life wasting time in enough ways — no need to add yet another thing to the list.) I saw tons of MacBooks and MacBook Pros. And lots of people bending the hinge on the screen back a bit too far. (No wonder there are so many folks in line for the Apple Geniuses).

One thing I observed was the number of children and parents waiting in line for children. Crazy. A $500-$600 phone for your kid — and you have to sleep in line for it?? (I guess I’d do it for my kid too, but it’s amazing to think about the lengths to which parents will go). And of course, you just know kids are gonna end up getting em stolen or some other careless thing and then you’ve waited and spent $600….for nothing. Anyway…

The store employees would come out and hand us “Steve” waters. What’s that? Oh, a “Steve” water is the Vitamin Water bottle that Steve Jobs caries around and swigs off of during MacWorld keynotes — usually during the demos. (“…and you just click on it…and then…boom! <siiiiip.>)

When 6pm hit, they did a countdown and everybody gathered their crap and started moving up. They let about 15 folks in the store at a time and they roped off all of the stuff and directed you straight to the phones. “4 Gig or 8 Gig?”. They even had sales people with wi-fi registers to ring you up right there in the middle of the floor. Eventually I came out of the store with one — (thanks to God. Truth be told, I probably didn’t deserve to. Not because the phone is supposed to be so great. It’s just that God has been really good to me despite some of my actions.)

I will give my impressions in a bit, but there’s one small problem that’s in my way….. (read the following post….)


…And Why NOT to iPhone

In my previous post, I ran down a list of the reasons why I’m thinking of donating a kidney for the promise of being able to get an iPhone. I’ve gone through the list of pros and cons for months — and the pros come out on top. But there are a significant number of questionmarks that stand out in my mind and keep me from wholeheartedly giving this phone my absolute endorsement. Let’s take a second to explore some of the things that could tarnish this launch a bit. Simply put, these are a few reasons why you might want to reconsider handing your $499/$599 over to the snarky kid in the black shirt with the white logo.

1. Cost – The iPhone comes in two flavors – the $499 model with 4GB and the $599 model with 8GB of storage. And there are other phones (like the Nokia N95) that are at that same price point. But even at the $500 level, this is a sizeable investment. Considering the fact that a full featured smartphone like the Moto Q or Samsung Blackjack can be secured for less than $150 right now, I’m not sure that the experience will be $350-better. (I think it will be, but anyway…..) You have to really consider whether you’re going to make use of the Internet-based features or if you really need the iPod functionality. You can pick up an iPod with Video for $249. Or perhaps the more popular iPod Nano for $149/$199 depending on which configuration you’re looking to get. So the sum of those two items (a phone and an iPod) would still leave you money left over.

And let’s not forget the fact that if you do pick up this phone you almost have to get a data plan. (Or perhaps you can just use the phone on Wi-Fi if you have access?) Cost is definitely a huge factor to consider here.

2. Theft Target – I’m hearing that only 4 million of these will be available at launch and who knows how many throughout the rest of the year. I can just see the news story about people getting robbed when they pull out this attractive toy on the train ride home. And you thought the white earbuds said, “rob me, please”? Wait until people start flipping their fingers across the screen. You may want to consider how safe the environment is before whipping one of these babies out in public. And if it’s that much of a theft target, is it really worth the risk?

3. Synching? iTunes to Manage ALL Content? – I am a big fan of iTunes (although it has gotten a bit bloated over time). Yet and still, I’m not quite sure that this is the right application to manage the kind of data that I want to share with the phone. During the Keynote, Steve said that iTunes will manage the sync. Sure, iTunes is cool to manage the music. But I’m not sure how the rest of the content is going to work. Will it just go to each application to pull down the respective data? (Photos from iPhoto, Music from iPod, Contacts from Address Book)? Probably not, since Windows users will need to synch as well. Personally, I’d like to see a simple synching application released separate from iTunes that can be used to determine what data synchs to the phone. Perhaps this can be covered in a tab or a view on the iTunes menu. I don’t know for sure. But I have my concerns. Continue reading ‘…And Why NOT to iPhone’


Why iPhone?

It’s been a little while since I’ve written anything even remotely tech related. Lately a lot of the questions I’ve been asked have been related to the soon-to-be-released (hopefully) iPhone from Apple. When it was first announced there seemed to be this incredible buzz. People who weren’t even into tech all that much knew about it. After a few weeks, reality set in and the mood went from, “I’ll give my firstborn child for one” to, “well, how great can it be?” Many of the inquiries seem to be coming from people who know the phone is going to be great, but want to understand more specifically how it will equal a better experience. (A la Windows Vista.)

Now that we’ve been given the actual release date – June 29 – it’s time to start deciding. Quantities are going to be limited. And with that, I’ve put together a truly random list of the reasons why I’m considering ditching Verizon Wireless after seven years of ups and downs and going with the iPhone and AT&T Wireless.

1. Signature “Apple” Industrial Design – I’ve owned several products from Apple and the one thing that is consistent across every product that you buy (among other things) is the fact that the industrial design will be great. I just bought an Acer laptop (which I took back after about 8 hours, but that’s another story). It was the complete opposite of my experience with my MacBook, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, G4 PowerBook and iPod. Each of those products wreaked of quality from the moment you open the box. Nothing feels cheap or plastic-ey. Feels good to the hand. Ergonomically friendly. Just everything about the experience of holding the devices makes you feel less self-conscious about spending a little bit more for the box with the white Apple logo on the box.

And this leads up to our expectations with the iPhone. Jonathan Ive (or Sir Jonathan Ive to you) has been the mastermind behind the incredible industrial design of the PowerBook, the iPod and so many other designs at Apple and he’s got his hands in this one too. Every feature that has been promised on the iPod works exactly the way that you expect it to. And while the iPhone may prove to be a bigger challenge than any of those previous attempts (I mean, after all, he’s effectively cramming OS X into a phone with only a touch interface) somehow I think he’ll deliver her just as he’s done in the past. Continue reading ‘Why iPhone?’


Welcome, iPhone

iphone.jpgScott Bourne and Alex Lindsay — I owe you both a big apology. In 2006, I got tired listening to the guys on MacBreak Weekly talk about the coveted “iPhone” like it was some sort of super-device. We’d seen nothing of it. Steve Jobs himself had gone on record saying that the PDA market wasn’t an area that Apple was looking to move into. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why these guys were salivating over the mere thought that Apple would make a phone. To me, it was almost the worst kind of fanatacism and Apple fanboy like behavior that drives people insane.

Gentlemen, I stand corrected. I guess I wasn’t dreaming big enough.

Today Apple (now officially Apple, Inc.) exceeded even my wildest expectations of what a phone could be. Pre-keynote I had no thoughts of buying yet another mobile phone. My Motorola Q still catches stares on the subway and it serves me just fine. I browse the web all the time and EVDO seems to be improving. I’m even starting to incorporate media as I take photos and record audio occasionally with it. What more could I possibly want?

My thoughts after the MacWorld keynote? I looked down at my Q and it seemed like a tin can on the end of a string.

You’d have to be a pretty sour sport not to get excited at this device (or at least what Apple’s promising.) Honestly, as enthusiastic about the device as I am right now, my description of the features couldn’t do it justice. For the best demo, watch the keynote.

Go ahead. I’ll wait. The link is here:

Seen it yet? OK, I understand. You don’t have the time. Well, find the time and watch this. Steve dazzles again in typical Jobs fashion. Continue reading ‘Welcome, iPhone’


On the Eve of MacWorld 2007

MacWorld is totally freakin’ nigh. I know I sound like a complete mark for saying this, but this is one of the highlights of the year for me. Nobody knows how to do a “proper” product launch and announcement (as my friends in the U.K. would say) quite like Apple. For Mac fans all around the world, this is the time for much speculation. Over the past few months, there has been all kinds of murmuring about what Apple is going to do next. Well, here are my thoughts on some of the announcements that have been in speculation:

The iPhone/iChat Mobile/ – This has been rumored for quite some time now. The folks on one of my favorite podcasts, MacBreak Weekly on Leo Laporte’s TWiT network ( are ready to give their firstborn for the privilege of owning a Mac-branded phone. And while I’m a Mac aficionado and consider my MacBook Pro as the one thing that I’d take if my apartment were ever on fire (God forbid) even I am not this much of a fanatic. To drool over something that you haven’t even seen or don’t even know the specs of is kind of ridiculous. Their rationale is that Apple will bring to mobile phones a similar experience as what they’ve brought to their computers and the iPod. For me, the jury is still out. But nonetheless, this is one of the most anticipated items at MacWorld and it’s announcement is certain to be the feature of the show. (This would have to the the “One More Thing….”).

ITV – Last summer Apple announced the ITV and said that it would be launching in 2007. “ITV” was a code name and it will be receiving it’s proper name — probably at MacWorld. No ideas at all as to what they’re going to call it. But it’s supposed to be a way of relaying video from your Mac to your large-screen display. They’ve got some challenges here. I hope they decide to allow for an RJ-45 Ethernet input because streaming TV over a wireless connection has to be darn-near impossible right now. Also,

Leopard – You can bet the farm that you’ll see a full featured demo and release date announced for the next incarnation of the Mac OS X. Leopard was featured early in 2006 and I blogged about some of the features after a conference this past summer. I’ll be buying to have the latest and greatest. But there really isn’t anything significant about the next release that I’m drooling over. Perhaps that will change with MacWorld.

iLife Upgrade – Without a doubt, this is the one thing that you can count on every year — an announcement of new features for Apple’s pride and joy on the OS X platform. It’s their “MS Office for your home life”. iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, and Garageband should all receive sizeable upgrades. Not sure about iTunes.

Continue reading ‘On the Eve of MacWorld 2007’