AT&T CEO states data-only plans could become “inevitable” with next 24 months

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 4th, 2012, 13:20
Category: iPhone, News

attlogo

One day, AT&T will provide something for everyone.

Per the Associated Press, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said on Friday that data-only wireless phone plans are likely to arrive within the next two years, marking a dramatic shift away from traditional cell network usage toward VoIP and text-as-data solutions like Apple’s iMessage.

Speaking at an investors conference, Stephenson said that while AT&T had no plans in place to offer an all-data subscription model, the industry is trending in that direction as smartphones continue to gain popularity led by Apple’s iPhone and handsets running Google’s Android mobile operating system, reports the Associated Press.

“I’ll be surprised if, in the next 24 months, we don’t see people in the market place with data-only plans,” Stephenson said. “I just think that’s inevitable.”

Under a data-centric plan users would have to use VoIP solutions like Skype to hold voice conversations, changing Internet calling into a necessity rather than an option to save on billed minutes. The switch would also be disruptive to the installed system in which telecoms monetize voice calls by charging each other to connect to cellphone numbers. This is one of the reasons why voice and data charges are billed separately.

Stephenson recently bemoaned AT&T’s decision to offer unlimited data with the original iPhone and iPad, adding that Apple’s iMessage is also a source of concern because it takes away from the company’s texting revenue.

While it may seem ironic that texting is quickly moving the industry away from voice technology toward a style of communication seen in pagers during the 1990’s, the reality is that modern data exchanges offer a much richer and more immediate experience than their obsolescent counterparts. Smartphones give users the ability to be in constant contact with each other, and new data-driven apps like Sounder literally keep an open connection to friends and peers.

As telecoms move to 4G LTE, an increasing amount of consumers will use an increasing amount of limited bandwidth which could force carriers to raise prices or find alternative solutions.

For now, AT&T is hoping to introduce a shared data plan similar to how the company offers shared voice plans for families. The initiative is a long time coming and the carrier has been “working on it” for over a year, presumably to find a way to implement such a service without losing profits.

With shared data plans essentially representing a discount for users that would normally buy separate plans for each device they owned, the prospect of the pricing structure would seemingly be damaging to telecoms’ bottom lines. Stephenson pointed out that AT&T is looking to make more money from shared data, not less.

When you have millions of devices such as tablets that lack cellular data plans, Stephenson said, “it seems to me it’s a lift, not a deterioration” to get them connected. The chief executive is referring to users who may not be using the cellular capabilities of their iPads or other tablets and are instead operating solely on Wi-Fi.

To make data plan pricing more attractive to consumers Stephenson noted that the wireless industry will experiment with charging content providers for the data used to access their websites in a type of “800 toll-free number” system. Critics say this would give the upper hand to well-established companies that can afford to pay the instituted subsidy and squelch competition from cash-poor startups. The experiment will likely start within the year, though it is unknown which carriers will be taking part in the initiative.

“It’s not us going out and mandating this. The content guys are coming in asking for it,” Stephenson said. “If you don’t allow those kinds of models to flourish, you’re going to inhibit the potential of these services.”

Something for everyone somewhere down the line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Cricket Wireless to offer contract-free iPhone 4S, will sell units for $500

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 31st, 2012, 10:57
Category: iPhone, News

It’s not the highest end wireless carrier in the world, but if it carries contract-free iPhones, who’s to criticize?

Per AppleInsider, on June 22, Cricket Wireless will become America’s first fully prepaid wireless carrier to offer Apple’s iPhone, with an “unlimited” US$55-per-month plan.

Cricket Wireless is a prepaid subsidiary of Leap Wireless, which offers “unlimited” data plans under a “fair usage policy” of 2.3 gigabytes per month. The small carrier with 6.2 million customers announced on Thursday that it will become the first prepaid carrier in the U.S. to offer the iPhone to its customers.

On June 22, Cricket will sell the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S contract-free for US$500, in addition to the 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 for US$400. Both will be compatible with the carrier’s “unlimited” US$55-per-month talk, text and data plan.

Customers will be able to buy both the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 in Cricket company-owned stores and select dealers in nearly 60 markets. The iPhone will also be available for sale on the company’s official website, and over the phone at 800-853-7682.

Cricket offers wireless voice and mobile data services over 4G LTE and 3G CDMA wireless networks. Its parent company, Leap, is the owner of the seventh largest wireless telecommunications network in the U.S. with coverage in all 50 states.

Cricket is the latest regional wireless carrier to receive the iPhone, as Apple has been aggressively expanding the presence of its smartphone to smaller carriers in the U.S. Earlier this month, Apple added Kentucky’s Bluegrass Cellular, California’s Golden State Cellular, and Kansas’ Nex-Tech Wireless to its list of official carrier partners.

In April a total of five carriers began selling the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4: Alaska Communications, Appalachian Wireless, Cellcom, GCI and nTelos. And last October, the iPhone also launched on C Spire Wireless, a regional U.S. carrier with about 900,000 customers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Next-gen iPhone schematics surface, show possible 4″ display, repositioned FaceTime camera

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 30th, 2012, 08:32
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

If you’re going to build something, you probably need a schematic.

Per 9to5 Mac, a set of black and white schematics of what are purported to be the next-generation iPhone have been discovered. The schematics show assorted new features of the device such as the redesigned speaker grills, and repositioned earphone jack and FaceTime camera, exact display dimensions are still unknown. The plans show what appears to be the next-generation iPhone front glass with enough room for the much rumored, roughly 4-inch display.

On Wednesday, new schematics have surfaced via Cydia Blog that show a diagonal opening of just slightly over 4-inches. The designs also show the repositioned FaceTime camera above the earpiece.



Although calculations of the display show an opening less than .1 of an inch over 4-inches, the display could likely measure a flat 4-inches diagonally as the front panel is typically slightly larger than the display itself.

All this is up in the air right now, but hey…schematics!!!

Purported screenshots show possible new mapping functions in iOS 6

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 29th, 2012, 06:46
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor, Software

They’re not the most elegant pictures and they’re even a bit blurry, but they ARE interesting.

Per Boy Genius Report, a collection of blurry photos claim to reveal Apple’s redesigned Maps application, expected to be a major component of the anticipated iOS 6 update for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

The five pictures claiming to show the new iOS 6 Maps application were credited to a “trusted source,” and hint at a redesigned user interface with a silver color scheme, rather than the current blue.



The new Maps application will reportedly feature a button in the bottom left corner with two options: a “locate me” feature,” and quick access to a new 3D mode. Apple’s 3D mapping solution is expected to be driven by the acquisition of C3 Technologies in 2011.

The 3D mapping functionality is said to be near complete, and is being tested in a build of iOS 6 reportedly labeled “10A3XX.”

Details on the anticipated revamped iOS Maps application first surfaced earlier this month, claiming that the 3D mapping functionality will be a key component of Apple’s new in-house solution. The new Maps application is expected to be shown off as part of an iOS 6 demonstration at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which will be held June 11 through 15 in San Francisco, Calif.

Apple’s plan to move away from Google and develop its own proprietary mapping solution has been a long time in the making. The company’s plans were first signaled in 2009, when it purchased Placebase, a competitor to Google Maps.

And in 2010, Apple bought Poly9, another mapping company, and began using its own location databases for the Maps application with the launch of iOS 3.2 for the first-generation iPad. Another key acquisition came in 2011, when Apple bought C3 Technologies, a Sweden-based 3D mapping company.

Another key component of the anticipated Maps overhaul in iOS 6 could be traffic. Apple publicly announced last April that it was “collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database,” for an “improved traffic service” that would launch in “the next couple of years.”

In addition to a 3D mapping button, the purported iOS 6 Maps pictures revealed on Tuesday also include a button for “Directions,” which could include Apple’s in-the-works traffic service to aid in turn-by-turn driving directions. The pictures also show a different look for the mapping data that is similar to the OpenStreetMap data Apple began using with the release of iPhoto for iOS in March.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

GreenPois0n Absinthe 2.0 jailbreak for iOS 5.1.1 goes live, allows for untethered jailbreaking

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 25th, 2012, 06:10
Category: Hack, iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, security

Per Boy Genius Report, the GreenPois0n Absinthe 2.0 jailbreak for iOS 5.1.1 has been released.

Absinthe works on A4-powered devices and A5 ones, like the iPhone 4S and new iPad. It won’t work on the iPad 2, however and the JailbreakUntethered site has explanations on how to get this going on your device.

If you’ve tried the jailbreak and have any feedback, please let us know in the comments.

Recently published Apple patent shows interest in developing stylus for iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 24th, 2012, 07:14
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

applelogo_silver

It never hurts to have different options for your user interface.

Per Engadget, an Apple patent application for an optical stylus has turned up on the United States Patent Trade Office website.

Although late Apple CEO Steve Jobs had derided the stylus as an input method for the iPhone and the iPad once famously saying that ‘If you need a stylus, you’ve already failed,’ Jobs was well known for throwing the opposition a curve ball from time to time speaking out against an idea, only to have been developing a concept behind the scenes. One example was when he said that consumers liked having a separate iPod while also carrying their phone, only to reveal the ultimate convergence device in the iPhone a couple of years later.

The Apple patent application describes a stylus that incorporates image capture along with an on-board image processor, while also capable of sensing pressure. It would include an accelerometer and an antenna to help relay the relative position of the stylus in relation to the device. Apple is also known to file patents for products, or technologies, that may never see the light of day. However, creative professionals, and other users would probably welcome an Apple stylus if it was released. The aftermarket stylus ecosystem the iPad and the iPhone, along with an interesting stylus project at Kickstarter and the forthcoming Adonit Jot Touch suggests that the demand is indeed there.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to retain iPhone 3GS model, push units towards developing markets

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 21st, 2012, 14:45
Category: iPhone, News

It may not be the fastest, most recent or snazziest iPhone, but Apple will keep the 3GS around for a bit longer.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Peter Misek with Jefferies has received word that Apple has inked an agreement with “a leading distribution and logistics company.” That new partnership is intended to push the iPhone 3GS in prepaid markets around the world, and expand channels for the iPhone 3GS in developing countries.

Accordingly, Misek believes that Apple is in the process of repricing the iPhone 3GS, which currently costs US$375 without a contract. He expects that the third-generation iPhone will be priced between US$250 and US$300, which would allow someone to buy it with no subsidy for around the cost of an on-contract iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 3GS can currently be had for free with a new two-year service contract in major markets like the U.S. It serves as Apple’s entry-level smartphone, while the iPhone 4, first released in 2010, is available for US$99 with a carrier subsidy.

Apple is expected to launch its new sixth-generation iPhone this fall. If the company were to continue its current strategy of discounting previous-generation hardware, the iPhone 4S lineup would be reduced to one capacity for US$99, while the iPhone 4 would become free with a two-year contract.

With the iPhone 4 replacing the iPhone 3GS as Apple’s entry-level smartphone, some might expect that the iPhone 3GS would be an end-of-life product. But based on what Misek has heard, Apple may have other plans to expand iPhone sales in markets where Apple has yet made a significant impact.

“Emerging markets” have been identified as a potential source of a huge number of untapped customers that present a long-term upside for Apple. One analysis conducted earlier this year found that emerging markets have 14 times as many people between the smartphone friendly ages of 25 and 34 than Western Europe and North America.

One report published earlier this year by The Wall Street Journal declared that cheap Android-based smartphones were “crushing the iPhone” in European countries that have been hit hardest by the debt crisis. In those markets, most consumers don’t sign contracts and pay the full, unsubsidized price for smartphones.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said last October that the prepaid market is “very, very important” to his company. He said that was one of the reasons the company continues to sell its entry-level iPhone 3GS, to reach lower price points in both prepaid and postpaid markets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Sprint now offering $100 trade-in credit for iPhones from competing carriers

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 21st, 2012, 06:55
Category: iPhone, News

It never hurts to offer an incentive.

In an effort to drum up subscribership and advertise its unlimited data plan for the iPhone 4S, Sprint revealed on Friday that it will begin offering a US$100 credit to any customer who trades in an iPhone from another carrier.

Per AppleInsider, the carrier said that it would be offering non-Sprint users at least US$100 for their iPhone to be used towards a new iPhone 4S if they start a line of service with a minimum two-year contract.

Sprint’s announcement comes on the heels of reports earlier this week that revealed Verizon would be pushing to end unlimited data usage for its smartphone users come this summer when the company rolls out new shared data plans. The top U.S. wireless company issued a statement on Thursday clarifying that only subscribers upgrading to a subsidized handset would no longer be able to take advantage of the all-you-can-eat service.

Both Verizon and AT&T have come under fire for slowly squeezing grandfathered customers out of their unlimited plans, represented by Verizon’s upgrade policy and AT&T’s March decision to throttle heavy data users after they pass a 3GB per month threshold.

When it became the last of the big-three telecoms to offer the iPhone, Sprint announced plans to offer unlimited data to new customers when the top two wireless providers killed off their respective uncapped services in a move toward more profitable tiered solutions. AT&T was the first to axe unlimited iPhone data in June 2010, and recently CEO Randall Stephenson admitted that he wished the company had never offered the option. Verizon followed AT&T’s lead in July 2011, a mere six months after the device launched on its network.

In a move to stand out from the competition, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse announced in April that his company will continue to offer unlimited data for the next generation iPhone sight-unseen, which means that users can utilize uncapped bandwidth even if the handset supports 4G LTE.

Earlier this week Hesse said that Sprint wouldn’t make a profit from the iPhone until 2015, but has no regreets in making a bet-the-company move to ink an agreement to sell the handset that was later revealed to be worth US$15.5 billion over the next four years.

“We believe in the long term,” Hesse said. “And over time we will make more money on iPhone customers than we will on other customers.”

To take advantage of the offer, interested parties must activate a new line by July 3 and trade-in their non-Sprint iPhone before Aug. 14.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Next-gen iPhone to incorporate larger display, part of Steve Jobs’ final effort

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 18th, 2012, 05:29
Category: iPhone, Rumor

This whole thing about the next-gen iPhone containing a larger screen? It might be what Steve Jobs would have wanted.

According to Bloomberg, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs “worked closely on” the upcoming iPhone before he died. According to sources familiar with Apple’s plans, the Cupertino, Calif., company has ordered from suppliers screens that are “bigger than the 3.5-inch size” that the iPhone has sported since its debut in 2007.

“Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had worked closely on the redesigned phone before his death in October,” the report noted one person as saying. Another source said that Jobs had played a “key role in developing” Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

If Apple were to perform a major redesign of the iPhone, it would be the device’s first since the iPhone 4 arrived in mid-2010. The previous design, that of the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, was also kept for two years before the current form factor was introduced.

With three mainstream media outlets reporting similar claims in the same week, the likelihood that Apple will expand the screen on its best-selling handset appears high. On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal said that LG Display, Sharp and the newly-created Japan Display are readying production lines for 4-inch displays bound for Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone. Reuters then noted that production of the new screens could begin as soon as next month, ahead of full production of the next-generation iPhone in August.

Pundits have suggested that Apple’s interest in a larger-screen iPhone comes in response to pressure from ever-increasing screen sizes of competing Android handsets. For instance, Samsung’s Galaxy S II, the most popular Android phone according to one recent study, has a 4.8-inch screen. The Galaxy Note, also by Samsung, is a hybrid smartphone and tablet with its 5.3-inch display.

Apple is widely expected to bring a new iPhone to market this fall, roughly one year after the iPhone 4S went on sale. Sources have disagreed, however, on whether the device’s launch will come in September or October.

Multiple reports have also suggested that the 2012 iPhone could make the jump to 4G LTE. Apple is expected to make use of new LTE chipsets from Qualcomm with improvements to power consumption over the previous generation.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon issues follow-up clarifying statement on unlimited data/upgrade announcement

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 18th, 2012, 05:18
Category: iPhone, News

verizonlogo.jpg

Sometimes things require additional explanation.

Per an email sent to the New York Times, Verizon on Thursday issued a statement clarifying the position it will take with customers who currently have grandfathered unlimited data plans, reiterating that the all-you-can-eat option will only terminate when upgrading to a new subsidized smartphone.

The statement quelled specious reports that claimed current unlimited data subscribers would be forcibly moved to the upcoming capped shared data plans expected to launch this summer.

Customers with unlimited plans will continue to be grandfathered in to the new pricing model that allows multiple users to share data on a single contract. Once the new plans debut, subscribers who choose to take advantage of subsidized phone pricing when upgrading will no longer have the option to continue their all-you-can-eat service.

The emailed statement:
– Customers will not be automatically moved to new shared data plans. If a 3G or 4G smartphone customer is on an unlimited plan now and they do not want to change their plan, they will not have to do so.

– When we introduce our new shared data plans, Unlimited Data will no longer be available to customers when purchasing handsets at discounted pricing.

– Customers who purchase phones at full retail price and are on an unlimited smartphone data plan will be able to keep that plan.

– The same pricing and policies will be applied to all 3G and 4G LTE smartphones.

Contrary to erroneous reports around the web, it will likely take years to phase out unlimited data plans, though Verizon is definitely urging customers away from that model.

On Wednesday, the carrier’s CFO Fran Shammo caused confusion by saying, “when [customers] “migrate off 3G they will have to go to data share.” While this might be true in some cases, the company’s stated policy clearly allows for the continuation of unlimited data access if customers pay full price for new handsets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.