Posts tagged “at&t”.

Quote of the week: close enough

June 22nd, 2010

“Verizon has reached a powerful point in their marketing: for Verizon customers curious about the iPhone, Droid is close enough. Close enough is powerful, and Apple is rapidly losing ground to it.”

- Marco Arment on a possible Verizon iPhone. His theory is that Apple will continue to lose ground to Verizon’s Droid if it doesn’t release a CDMA iPhone. As long as you can walk into a phone store that isn’t AT&T and pick up an Android smart phone, often for free, Marco’s right – it’ll be good enough.

Blame AT&T

August 27th, 2009

Amanda Fortini, writing for Salon.com, finds a good reason to complain about her “evil iPhone”:

The calls that go straight to voice mail, though, are the worst byproducts of the [AT&T] network’s weakness. Those messages pool silently, while the iPhone never deigns to give a signal or beep of any kind to indicate that they’re idling in your mailbox…If the phone was previously allowing voice mail messages to pool, now it seemed to be holding them for ransom. Even when it has service, messages don’t come through, and then later show up all at once, as though the iPhone has finally decided it’s in the mood to release them. Last week, all of my contacts in the address book vanished before inexplicably reappearing. The phone is worse than an orchid; it’s a high-maintenance techno-girlfriend whose demands are inscrutable and impossible to meet.

Fortini complains about the touch-screen typing and the auto-correct feature, too, both of which I’ve become used to and – over time – have come to enjoy. I like how the keyboard changes depending on how you’re holding the iPhone.

She also complains about how easily the screen cracks after you drop it, which seems like complaining about your car’s crumpled hood after you rear-end someone. I have my own first-hand experience with Fortini’s “fault,” and I know where the blame rests: squarely with me.

But the AT&T network (lack of) service and the voicemails not appearing until hours or days later – that’s got to stop. At first, I thought it was the piss-poor service in my apartment. One side of the apartment, and the upstairs, gets decent reception. But move into the dining room or the kitchen and you cross some sadistic border where cell service is completely missing. It’s like my rooms are made of Superman-grade lead.

It’s only natural that the iPhone receives some backlash. It’s becoming so popular, and selling so well, that problems start to become a statistical guarantee. The more people use something, the more it goes wrong. Think about when the iPod become super popular and then, predictably, started to attract critics.

Some of the iPhone’s problems are legit. The problems, however, are not with the phone itself. Mostly, I blame AT&T. It’s their network that sucks, and it’s their voicemail that fails to come through.

Get even the most basic aspects of the phone wrong – you know, the calling at the messages and whatnot – and the whole device seems to be tainted. I don’t believe that’s the case. I love the apps and the iPod and the fun the iPhone provides. It’s just that I also find myself cursing when Twitterific gives me a “timed out” message, or the Facebook app loads at dial-up speeds. That’s the fault of the network.

“Don’t blame the phone,” I tell my friends. “Blame AT&T.”

Take back the beep

July 30th, 2009

[An open letter to AT&T rep Mark Siegel in response to David Pogue's "Take Back the Beep" campaign. I sent this in an e-mail to Mr. Siegel at 6:57 p.m. today.]

takebackthebeep

Mr. Siegel,

As an iPhone user, I’m lucky. My voicemail greeting does not burden a caller with an inanely-long “after the beep” message. I realize I’m one of the lucky few, however, because I face this message every time I call someone else.

It has to stop. And not just because of the cost to consumers.

I realize that AT&T needs to make money, and while I wag my finger in shame at using a tactic like the beep message, I understand. I work at a financial institution, and we’re all about using little things, here and there, to draw in more income.

What’s annoying is that it wastes my time. And time, sir, is something I can’t get back.

Like Mr. Pogue mentioned in his article, the basics of leaving a voicemail – which have been with us since the dawn of the answering machine – are known to everyone but the Amish and the corrupt. In fact, many voicemail greetings created by users include the words “you know what to do after the beep” or “leave a message after the beep.” Adding extra instructions without a user’s consent is time wasted.

We’re not long for this Earth, Mr. Siegel. You, or me, or your communications professor from college could go at any time. We live in strange times, after all, and one never knows when the mortality clock could stop ticking. It could happen as I type this. Ever heard of ball lightning?

Anyway, the point is – please let us users decide how much of our friends’ and family’s time to waste. What do you say? Instead of sitting and listening to a laughably-didactic woman tell me I can “page” (is this 1996?) the person on the other end, I just want to leave a message without being accosted by the recorded message. Right?

Right.

Dave Lawrence
AT&T Customer
Jackson, MI

PS: Fix your service. Half my apartment gets a mediocre reception, while the other half has none at all.

11 Ways Newton is STILL better than iPhone

September 22nd, 2008

So you went to an Apple store, made your purchase, sold your soul to some wireless carrier, and now you have tons of free apps downloaded and your voicemail is all set up. You’re an iPhone 3G owner. What makes you so special? It might be that you don’t have an Apple Newton MessagePad to play around with.

Here are ten eleven reasons to sell your 3G and take up the ten-years-abandoned Newton platform for fun and recreation:

  1. It’s cheaper. The Newton MessagePad 1×0 series may cost you $15-30, while the 2×00 series might cost you $100-200. But that’s it. Except for wireless cards and the extra stylus, there’s no “plan” or “rate” to buy in to. You pay for it once. That’s it.
  2. The batteries last longer. Way longer. Like, weeks longer. I’ve noticed that my 3G iPhone can last up to two days with light usage, but in the end I still have to plug it in. My Newton 110? I’ve lasted a month on the same Sanyo Eneloop batteries. No color and no wifi help, of course, but the point still stands.
  3. You can fax. Faxing may be on its way out, or at least moving to the electronic world, but the MessagePad’s ability to fax – with the special modem – can be an advantage if (Steve forbid) wifi or cell towers ever went down. It could happen, and faxing lets you use the tried-and-true phone lines to do your communicating. Someone may release a faxing iPhone app, but in the meantime, your MessagePad has the market covered.
  4. No in-store activation required. No lines, either, and if you use eBay, it’s not as scarce as you think.
  5. It’s more rugged. Drop your iPhone and step on it. Now drop your MessagePad and step on it. Which would survive the fall and subsequent stomping? Place your bets.
  6. Newtons qualify as “underground.” Retro. Rare. Counter-culture. Whatever you want to call it, the Newton fills the “not-everyone-has-one-so-mine-is-cool” gap the iPhone 3G left behind. Before, the iPhone 1.0 was the rare species, eliciting looks and whispers when someone whipped one out. Now, Apple is selling tons of them. Which means, like the iPod, the “coolness” factor dips a bit. Not so with your MessagePad. You could probably count on one hand the number of people who own one in your 50-mile radius. Kids these days love their retro and throwback technology – what serves that purpose better than a Newton?
  7. It still has fun games on it. Every cell phone in the world has Tetris and chess and tic-tac-toe. So does your Newton. If your gaming style is “simple” over “Crash Bandicoot Racing,” keep your Newton around. Many games can be had for free.
  8. You’ll never have activation problems. Maybe an error message now and again. But nothing on the scale of the “iPocalypse.”
  9. You already have a system that works. Why switch now? If your MessagePad fits your GTD needs already, switching to the iPhone involves setting up a whole new system. I, for one, am still trying to decide on what flavor of to-do app I want to use on my 3G. Save yourself the hassle.
  10. No AT&T involved. This goes along with point one, but really – any situation where you can avoid giant nation-wide media and communication carriers is a chance to show your shutzpah. Those of us who settled on buying an iPhone are still grappling with the catatonic depression that goes along with signing up with AT&T. And the fact that we had to wait in long lines to do so only strengthens the insult. Do your own thing. Hold your Newton tight.
  11. Your Newton is a “project” device. This is what originally drew me to the MessagePad. Setting up wifi and Bluetooth, sending and receiving e-mails, playing around with third-party apps and games, even syncing with OS X – the Newton gives you weekend projects that satisfy your inner DIY’er. The iPhone? Too easy. Unless you’re an app developer or a jailbreaker – in which case, Mr. Jobs would like to have a word with you – the iPhone is a device of convenience and comfort. You don’t even need Apple’s permission to make applications for the Newton. All you need is knowledge of NewtonScript, an inner drive, and a mild case of masochism.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m loving my iPhone. Just the camera and the GPS are worth the madness that I lived through that Friday in July.

Anything I haven’t thought of? Have a different point of view? Let me know in the comments.

After iPocalypse: Apple needs to clean up its PR mess

July 14th, 2008

The above shot was taken on Sunday’s Macsurfer homepage. Just look at those headlines. If that isn’t a PR nightmare for Apple, I don’t know what is. This after they did such a super job before the iPhone 3G was announced.

Fortune talked about the perils of “event marketing” – how, yeah, a big huge event like this is fun and draws attention, it’s catastrophic when something breaks down. As it did on Friday. Apple is an expert at drawing press attention. That only makes the scrutiny laser beam that much hotter.

Despite everything that happened, it could’ve been worse. But I’m starting to wonder how. Just from personal experience, this week has been a bummer with my Apple gear. First, I updated my Airport Express base station’s firmware. Afterward, the thing crashed, and now I can’t use my external USB hard drive.

The update must have damaged my USB drive somehow, because I had to repair the thing in Disk Utility and now iPhoto crashes every time it tries to load my library from the disk. Even worse: my iBook and Airport Utility won’t even recognize the base station:

So much for a helpful “update.”

Then, after I thought MobileMe was actually giving me a chance to try it out (I set up my account, and could log in online), I find out that OS X 10.4 has issues connecting with MobileMe. In fact, the .Mac icons won’t even change over:

Just when it looks like MobileMe (or .Mac, or .Whatever) is going to sync my contacts and calendars and whatnot, I get this:

At least this is just the 60 day trial. If I were paying for this, I would not be a happy Apple customer.

And that’s just it. Even amidst Friday’s hellbroth during the iPhone 3G launch, I still played the dedicated Apple soldier. Most of the folks in line with me understood, too, that these things happen, and we were still a part of Something Special. But when the nuts of bolts of Apple’s operation start to come undone, that’s when you get people angry. People will stand in line for hours for the iPhone, no matter what activation issues are taking place, with a gritted smile on their face. That smile soon disappears, however, when basic things like Airport and “Exchange for the rest of us” (more like, “for the most patient of us”) start breaking down.

Apple has got a mess on its hands, it seems, and I wouldn’t want to be their PR department for the next week or so. The least they should do is offer some sort of apology, admit their mistakes, and fix their damn software. Those are the basics.

Do that, and we might forget our USB drive crashing through Airport Disk Utility. Might.

10 p.m.: iPhone 3G finally syncs with iTunes, AT&T

July 11th, 2008

That’s probably the best news I’ve received all day: my iPhone is synced and ready to go.

At 10 p.m., I finally got up the nerve to plug the sucker in and give it a whirl. And everything went great.

MobileMe is offering a free 60 day trial for us suckers, so I thought, why not? My System Prefs are still showing .Mac syncing, however, and I imagine it’s because I’m still a OS X 10.4 user. MobileMe is giving me error messages, so I’m not going to get my hopes up. But a free trial is a free trial. What’s the harm.

Mr. and Mrs. America, and all the ships at see, I hope you’re having the same luck I’m having right now – which is good luck. Now I’ve got all weekend to play with the beast.

Live from Ann Arbor: in line for iPhone 3G

July 11th, 2008

Hit me on my iPhone.

[UPDATE: read my total coverage here.]

Today’s the big day, and this morning I’m heading to Ann Arbor to scope out the scene, hopefully do some live blogging, and grab an iPhone 3G while I’m there.

You can help but wonder what other phone companies think when they see lines like the ones that form for Apple. I imagine some nervous, nail-biting CEO stands up in his meeting and screams, “Why do I pay you people? Why isn’t our demand like that? What are those…those…hippies doing that we can’t do?” It’s easy to feel sorry for them. What else besides rock concerts (before Ticketmaster started taking their brick-and-mortar outlets away) and Black Friday inspires people to get up at the crack of dawn for a phone?

My preparations actually began last night, when I made a list of items needed in case of a long line:

  • camera, with USB connector
  • iBook and power adapter
  • notepad, for documentation
  • My current wireless cellphone bill (I’m not an AT&T customer)
  • A full iPod
  • A book to read
  • Snacks and a drink

No Newton, however. One less thing to lug.

The tricky part was wondering whether there would even be a line this morning. Our Ann Arbor Apple Store at Briarwood Mall opened after the iPhone came out, so us Michiganders had to drive to Grand Rapids or Novi to see the spectacle.

The MacRumors forum had a few bees buzzing about being in line, but my search yielded no firm clues. It was a sure-fire risk, and I had to come prepared.

To get a firm date on the time the phone would be available, I called the Briarwood Apple Store, who lists the opening hour as 10 a.m. (probably when the mall itself opens). My call, however, yielded no concrete answers. The message lady said the store was opening at 8 a.m. So would the mall open early? Would just the Apple Store open early? Or would us schmoes have to wait until 10 a.m., at which point our bladders would explode from all the coffee.

Who’s in charge here?

Either way, I planned on leaving my place at about 6:30 or 7 a.m. and drive the 40 minutes to Ann Arbor and see what happens. What could I lose? A spot in line? The human body can only endure so much.

Other questions that plagued me: should I bring a chair? What would happen if some line-stander got sick? Would he or she give up his or her place in line? Would there be wifi available? How about power outlets in case my iBook gets a case of hypoglycemia? What about my own hypoglycemia?

Enough’s enough, I told myself. Watch me just walk up to the mall, open the door, and walk right into the Apple Store at 8 a.m., complete my transaction, and walk out – all within 20 minutes.

If I had done this last year, my mind would have known what to expect. Planning would have been easier. But I chose to wait.

But the wait is over. A quick breakfast, get cleaned up, and off I go. The weather looks decent. It’s going to be a great day.

Check back for updates as the morning goes on!

Hit me on my iPhone.

July 10th, 2008

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBu3N8_U4WE]

I have a feeling I’ll have this song in my head all day tomorrow.

It’ll be so worth it. I’m taking the iBook, just in case I can get a connection, and will post updates if there’s a super-big line. If you’ll be in line, let me know – we can iChat with News from the Front Lines.

What to do with EDGE iPhones after 3G is released.

April 21st, 2008

Here’s an idea.

Since Europeans are worried about the overstocked pre-3G iPhones they won’t be able to sell after the 2.0 iPhone is released, how about we sell the old models at a fraction – say, 1/3 – of the price. Cheaper than refurbs, even.

And the refurbs? How about $99 each.

It’s hard to understand second-gen iPods still going for almost their original price now that the video versions are out. Same with several-years-old Apple notebooks.

My feeling is, Apple should sell the outdated versions at rock-bottom prices for no other reason than to get Apple products in the hands of non-Apple customers. I love Mac refurbs. I love the idea behind them. But those white iMacs just aren’t going to sell like they used to. Get them out of stock, onto the desks of poor Windows users, and spread the Apple virus.

Same with iPhones. When the 3G model comes out, practically give away the EDGE iPhones just to (a) get rid of them and (b) get them into the hands of eager teens or soccer moms or whoever else hasn’t ponied up $399 for a brand new model.

// Found via Slashdot