Best Buy to Offer iPhone 3G S Accident Insurance Plan

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 15th, 2009, 17:34
Category: iPhone

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For those of you planning to snag a new iPhone 3G S unit from Best Buy, you’ll also have the opportunity to purchase the chain’s rare (and somewhat pricey) accident insurance plan. According to AppleInsider, Best Buy stores nationwide on Friday will begin selling the next-generation Apple handset on launch day, albeit at the big-box retailer’s usual 10 a.m. opening time instead of the early hours both Apple and AT&T promise.

In contrast to these more direct channels, however, Best Buy plans to continue offering Geek Squad’s Black Tie Protection service with the new iPhone, people familiar with the plans say.

While Apple has never offered more than a standard two-year extended AppleCare warranty and AT&T has specifically exempted the iPhone from its insurance offerings, the Black Tie plan covers regular technical problems as well as drops, spills and other failures that would normally require a costly repair service or the purchase of an entirely new device.

Under Best Buy’s offering, any instance in which the phone can’t be fixed or replaced on the spot will see those customers offered a temporary phone until the repair or replacement is ready within three days or less. Battery replacements aren’t as likely due to Apple’s sealed-up design, but the company vows anti-lemon protection for devices that have to be brought in four times due defects.

Opting for Black Tie will reportedly still be expensive. For other cellphones, the program costs between US$7 and US$10 per month depending on the model, but the iPhone’s rate rises to US$15 per month, leaving iPhone owners paying about US$180 per year.

Sources close to the story say the added cost of iPhone protection comes from the heavy subsidies attached to Apple’s products. Since the actual, retail price of a phone without a contract is between US$599 and US$699, it becomes prohibitively expensive to offer Black Tie when customers may use it more than once.

Rumor: AT&T iPhone 3G S Pre-Order Stock Reportedly Sold Out

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 15th, 2009, 17:44
Category: Rumor

Per a document received over on Boy Genius Report, AT&T has reportedly sold out of its iPhone 3G S pre-order stock. A new memo sent along to retail locations provides instructions to tell all customers who pre-order the device on Saturday, June 13th or later that they will have to wait “7-10″ days before they can fulfill the pre-order–which will be sometime after the official launch on June 19th: “Only preorders placed [on] Friday, June 12, 2009 or earlier are expected to arrive in time for the 7:00 a.am. opening on Friday, June 19th, 2009. Customers will receive an email notification when their new iPhone 3G S has arrived and is available for pickup.”

The article also notes that AT&T retail locations, which open early on Friday, will have some stock for those willing to wait in line to make the purchase. AT&T, however, is encouraging customers to continue using the pre-order process as it will “guarantee that they receive their iPhone 3G S as quickly as possible.”

AT&T Cripples iPhone 3GS By Not Offering Features At Launch

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 8th, 2009, 21:09
Category: iPhone, News

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Today’s WWDC Keynote brought some surprises, and some disappointments. Perhaps the announcement generating the most vocal jeers was that AT&T would not be offering MMS and tethering services even though the iPhone’s 3.0 software was ready to support it.

The iPod Observer reported in a report that AT&T spokesperson, Mark Siegel, indicated that tethering would be coming to the iPhone, but that no timeframe was determined for its availability. Also reported was that MMS was unavailable because, “AT&T hasn’t decided yet how to handle MMS on the iPhone.”
These blatant omissions from AT&T coupled with other questions including AT&T allowing video streaming on other platforms besides the iPhone, brought to light by their insistence that SlingMedia cripple their iPhone app to only work over wifi, has many people scratching their heads and asking AT&T…WTF??!! Rumors of Apple striking a deal with Verizon has many iPhone owners already vocalizing their desire to hold off purchasing the new iPhone 3GS until they can also defect to another provider.

Is AT&T committing suicide with these moves, or is this how they give the finger to Apple for courting other vendors? Discuss it in the forums!

AT&T to Deploy HSPA 7.2 Network Ahead of Third Generation iPhone Launch

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 28th, 2009, 09:13
Category: 3G Wireless, iPhone, News

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Wireless carrier AT&T has formally announced plans to deploy its 7.2 Mbps HSPA 7.2 network this year, the deployment supporting faster iPhone models expected for release this summer.
According to AppleInsider, AT&T has stated that the HSPA 7.2 upgrade will deliver theoretical peak speeds twice that of the company’s current 3G network. The company has stated that installation will continue through 2011 and that AT&T will begin trials of LTE (Long Term Evolution), with deployment of that technology to begin in 2011. LTE plans to eventually reach theoretical peak speeds of 20 Mbps.
Both HSPA and LTE are components of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) family of technologies, which include GSM/EDGE and UMTS, the worldwide “3G” service supported by the iPhone 3G.
Because AT&T’s network is currently based on 3GPP standards, the company can deliver the upgrade to HSPA 7.2 service immediately to support faster smartphones prior to the buildout of LTE, which isn’t expected to become widely available until at least 2011-2012.
AT&T has stated that its current 3G service is available in 350 major US metro areas, with deployment in another 20 planned this year. The company stated that its new HSPA 7.2 technology “will be deployed widely in the network, with the benefits of the network upgrade to be announced on a local basis as the faster speeds are turned up.”
The company also said it will introduce “multiple HSPA 7.2-compatible laptop cards and smartphones beginning later this year.” Apple is expected to release a new iPhone model in June that supports HSPA 7.2 service. In addition to having access to a faster network, the new iPhone model is expected to have a significantly faster processor, enabling it to better handle the data it can receive, resulting in faster overall operation.
Along with the upgrade to HSPA 7.2, AT&T also reported plans to build out other network improvements this year as part of a capital investment plan costing $17-18 billion.
Elements include:

  • Near-Doubling Radio Frequency Capacity: In 2008 and 2009 to date, high-quality 850 MHz spectrum has been deployed in more than half of AT&T’s 3G network footprint to improve overall coverage and in-building reception, with additional markets planned for later in the year.
  • More Bandwidth to Cell Sites: AT&T is adding fiber-optic connectivity and additional capacity to thousands of cell sites across the country this year, expanding the critical connections that deliver traffic from a cell site into the global IP backbone network. These upgrades will support the higher mobile broadband speeds enabled by both HSPA 7.2 and LTE.
  • More Cell Sites: Deployment of about 2,100 new cell sites across the country.
  • Wi-Fi Integration: Many AT&T smartphones will be able to switch seamlessly between 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity. AT&T customers with qualifying smartphone and 3G LaptopConnect plans have access to the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network – more than 20,000 hotspots, including locations in all 50 states – at no additional charge. AT&T’s global Wi-Fi footprint covers more than 90,000 hotspots, and AT&T also can create permanent or temporary extended Wi-Fi zones in areas with high 3G network use, like a grouping of hotels or a festival.
  • MicroCells: Customer trials leading toward general availability of AT&T 3G MicroCell offerings, which utilize femtocells to enhance in-building wireless coverage.
  • AT&T Considering Cheaper, Capped Data Plans for iPhone

    Posted by:
    Date: Friday, May 22nd, 2009, 08:00
    Category: iPhone

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    When in doubt, offer something cheaper.
    Per Reuters, AT&T has signaled that the company is looking to offer lower data rate plans for the iPhone, especially in a market where users are more sensitive to price.
    Ralph de la Vega, AT&T’s current chief executive officer, remarked this week at the Reuters Global Technology Summit that he could see AT&T setting a cap on the amount of data used in a given month in return for a lower fee. One example, though not necessarily what AT&T would use, is the company’s netbook strategy: while the mini notebooks still have access to the usual 5GB monthly data plan, subscribers can pay US$20 less per month if they’re willing to put the cap at 200MB before overage fees kick in.
    The executive went on to mention the iPhone as possibly affected by any switch in strategy but that it wasn’t Apple’s device alone that would prompt demand. Instead, smartphone adoption in a difficult climate was the important concern.
    “Right now we continue to study what is the best thing that is available, not just from an iPhone point of view, but what you can do to stimulate additional demand,” de la Vega said.
    The news echoes rumors that, among other things, AT&T may offer a US$20 iPhone data plan that would save customers US$10 a month but put a ceiling on data access.
    De la Vega ruled out simply cutting the price without restrictions on Internet use, however. AT&T recently declared itself the leader in smartphones and has steadily become more reliant on data as a source of income. The provider’s goal is to profit from services, he said, and with the iPhone’s price already being heavily subsidized, dropping the price would only hurt AT&T’s bottom line.

    Rumor: AT&T May be Looking into $20/Month Limited Data Plan for iPhone

    Posted by:
    Date: Monday, May 18th, 2009, 12:11
    Category: Rumor

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    With next-generation iPhone and iPhone OS 3.0 around the corner, the rumor mill is jumping. Per BusinessWeek, sources within AT&T have stated that the company “is considering cutting the price of its monthly service package or offering a range of lower-priced plans.”
    Among the new offerings would be a US$20 monthly limited access iPhone data plan that could appear before the end of May. AT&T currently offers a one-size-fits-all US$30 unlimited data plan as a mandatory add-on for iPhone subscribers, which helps push monthly services fees for those customers above US$70 with taxes and fees.
    Though the report is speculative, it does suggest that Apple could introduce a pre-paid or $99 iPhone to accompany reduced plans from AT&T in a bid to attract lower income consumers. The article also cites a survey indicating that 43% of existing iPhone owners make salaries in excess of US$100,000, noting that this pool of wealthy consumers is quickly running dry.
    “A cheaper plan, coupled with new and possibly cheaper iPhones, could give AT&T a larger share of the U.S. smartphone market,” the report says. “And unless prices drop on other smartphones in AT&T’s stable, those rival handset makers, such as Research In Motion could end up losing market share in AT&T’s stores.”
    Apple’s attempts to reach lower income markets to expand its iPhone market share aren’t unheard of, as the company currently introduced the handset to various Wal-Mart locations earlier this year.
    In its report Monday, BusinessWeek also noted that Apple may have greater freedom to mark down the price of its next-gen iPhones with the cost of touchscreens, the most expensive component, having declined by more than 30% in the past year.

    Apple Finally Offering iPhone 3G For Sale Online

    Posted by:
    Date: Friday, May 15th, 2009, 07:40
    Category: iPhone

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    Apple’s iPhone 3G is finally available online, an option that hasn’t existed since the original unit was released in 2007. According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple has finally allowed new users to activate their services online with the iPhone 3G handset being shipped straight to their door.
    Current AT&T customers will need to reserve their iPhones online, then go pick them up at the Apple Store.
    While this takes away the personal attention (and ability to correct mistakes on the spot should they be made), it’s what’s been expected for a while and nifty altogether.
    If you’ve snagged an iPhone 3G via this method and have any feedback to offer on it, let us know how it went.

    SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone Due Soon, Will Ship Without 3G Support

    Posted by:
    Date: Tuesday, May 12th, 2009, 13:29
    Category: Software

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    Per iPodNN, Apple will publish the long-awaited SlingPlayer application for the iPhone and iPod touch handsets within the next 24 hours. Unfortunately, developer Sling Media is said to have confirmed that the application will lack any form of 3G support.
    Sling Player is designed as extension of the company’s Slingbox hardware, which broadcasts TV from a person’s home to a remote Internet destination. Using SlingPlayer, people should be able to view streams, change channels and control DVR units.
    The final application will be able to connect exclusively over Wi-Fi in what is believed to be a concession to iPhone carrier AT&T. Through its terms of service the company has effectively banned redirecting TV over 3G, a strategy deemed necessary to prevent constraining bandwidth. As a consequence however, the range and usefulness of the iPhone app has been substantially diminished.
    SlingPlayer Mobile will sell for US$30 at the App Store, and officially support the Slingbox PRO, SOLO and PRO-HD devices. Older hardware is also said to be compatible, but not officially supported.

    Apple Revises “Wet iPhone” Policy Terms

    Posted by:
    Date: Friday, May 8th, 2009, 08:07
    Category: iPhone

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    Over the past couple of years, some of my clients have inadvertently soaked their iPhones (the rocket scientist who routinely works for NASA managed to marinate his in a gym bag filled with Gatorade and the other stories are even more obscure).
    Given this situation, the result from Apple was fairly punitive: time to shell out for a new iPhone as well as a new AT&T contract.
    According to PC World, Apple has revised its “wet iPhone” policy. Now, if you’ve soaked the handset, just walk into an Apple Store location, belly on up to the Genius Bar and they’ll replace it out for you for US$199 without needing to renew the standard two-year contract.
    Otherwise, do what you can to keep it not-moist and you should be in business.

    iPhone OS 3.0 to Provide Much-Desired MMS Capabilities

    Posted by:
    Date: Wednesday, May 6th, 2009, 10:03
    Category: Opinion

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    By Rachel Hoyer
    So, you’ve just taken the world’s most adorable picture of your dog on your iPhone.
    If you want to text it to your friends, you’re out of luck.
    You’ll have to email it to them.
    iPhone enthusiasts everywhere have bemoaned the lack of MMS support on the handset. MMS is the protocol which allows transmission of images in text messages. The current iPhone OS 2.2.1 software supports SMS, but not its MMS extension. SMS, or Short Messaging Service, is a communication protocol that enables text messaging between mobile devices. MMS, or Multimedia Messaging Service, is an extension of SMS that allows transmission of multimedia objects such as images, audio, video and rich text files within a text message. Both SMS and MMS are supported on a wide variety of mobile networks, including the 3G network used by iPhone. SMS and MMS technology are rapidly becoming obsolete due to widespread availability of the Internet on mobile devices via Wi-Fi, 3G and Apple Wireless technology. This may be the reason that Apple did not include MMS on previous iPhone software versions.
    This begs the question: Why include SMS support, but not MMS support on iPhone OS 2.0? One possibility is that AT&T, the sole cell phone service provider for iPhone, pressured Apple into maintaining SMS text messaging support. Despite the advanced age of its technology, text messaging remains hugely popular among cell phone users. In addition, cell phone service providers such as AT&T rake in a ridiculously high profit margin on SMS text messaging services. But they make equal, if not more money, from selling ringtones and sending images delivered via MMS. Following the cell phone provider profits theory, it would be illogical to include SMS but not MMS. Another hypothesis: Apple did not want to deprive iPhone users of the highly convenient and popular SMS service, but assumed that MMS would not be missed given the ease of web access.
    At present, when you try to send a picture on your iPhone, it is posted on a website. Then, a text message linking the page is sent to your selected recipients inviting them to visit the site to view the picture. While web browsing is a simple task on the iPhone, it is a problematic endeavor for many other types of cell phones. Although nearly all cell phones have MMS capability, typically their web browsers are both dodgy and expensive. Not to worry, iPhone users: Apple plans to release iPhone OS 3.0 in June which (along with a host of other improvements) will provide MMS support. The upgrade will be free for iPhone 3G owners and $9.99 for iPod Touch owners. Sadly, due to a hardware compatibility issue, older iPhone models are not upgradeable.
    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go email my friends pictures of my dog in a football jersey.