AT&T Considering Cheaper, Capped Data Plans for iPhone

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Rumor: Apple Could be Developing iPhone Lite, “Media Pad” for Summer Release

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Date: Wednesday, April 29th, 2009, 08:18
Category: Rumor

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It came from the very depths of Rumorville, but it’s interesting stuff.
Per BusinessWeek, two anonymous sources have stated that Apple and Verizon may release two new Verizon-exclusive iPhone-like products as early as this summer.
The rumors go hand-in-hand with recent talk that the iPhone is coming to Verizon, and that Apple has new devices up its sleeve for the summer.
The first device has been described as an iPhone nano of sorts and may function as a smaller, less expensive iPhone handset. The “iPhone Lite”, as it’s been coined, is smaller and thinner than the existing iPhone and will come cheaper because it “relies on a so-called system on a chip, which incorporates many types of chips and drives down the cost of silicon in such devices.”
The other device is a “media pad” which features the same functionality as an iPod Touch – music, games, photos – but with HD video and calling ability via a Wi-Fi connection.
The sources told Business Week that the device will be smaller than Amazon’s Kindle 2 ebook reader, but feature a larger touchscreen, paving the way for more speculation about Apple entering the eBook market.
“The media pad category might go to Verizon,” a witness told Business Week. “We are talking about a device where people will say, ‘Damn, why didn’t we do this?’ Apple is probably going to define the damn category.”

Rumor: Apple, Verizon in Talks for 2010 iPhone

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Date: Monday, April 27th, 2009, 08:34
Category: Rumor

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Despite its exclusive contract with carrier AT&T, Apple is now claimed to be in discussions with Apple for its own version of the iPhone in 2010.
According to USA Today, anonymous sources familiar with the negotiations stated that Verizon reportedly entered serious talks before Steve Jobs’ hiatus and has been continuing those talks even with Jobs temporarily sidelined for medical reasons.
Other than a 2010 target release window, little else has been divulged by the apparent insiders.
Though not explicitly stated, the article infers that the phone would be a CDMA device compatible with Verizon’s existing network and therefore using EVDO for its 3G Internet access. Such a move would give the phone broad coverage but directly contradicts Apple COO Tim Cook’s own dismissal of CDMA last week. During a previous speech regarding iPhone expansion plans, the executive justified the absence of a CDMA model by arguing that a single, GSM phone model is easier to produce than building a separate version for a relatively small batch of customers. Cook also sharply criticized CDMA by asserting that it has no future, as most CDMA carriers plan to phase out the calling technology in favor of the same 4G standard that will be used on GSM networks.
A direct leap to a 4G seems more liekly and Verizon chief executive Ivan Seidenberg recently explained that a deal is more likely for a phone with the advanced networking technology as it would let Apple continue making one phone but still service North American carriers that are for now off limits.
Verizon has stated that it plans to officially launch its commercial 4G network in early 2010 and would therefore have at least some of its network ready for an iPhone by the time AT&T’s exclusivity term ends, which is likely for the same year.

Updates Rumored for Pro Apps and MacBooks at WWDC

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Date: Tuesday, April 21st, 2009, 23:05
Category: Rumor

According to 9to5 Mac, Apple plans to introduce minor updates to the MacBook line as well as some significant updates to Final Cut Pro, Aperture, Logic, and Shake.

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There has been some speculation in the last few months, fueled by rumors, that AT&T may be subsidizing MacBooks in much the same way as the iPhone due to built-in 3G connectivity. I am putting this rumor into the “unlikely” column, but 9to5 Mac’s sources suggest the laptop updates may be more than just speed-bumps. This could include changes to the battery, such as making it non-removable. I will want to be out of town if that announcement hits the floor to avoid the rioting.

I for one don’t see Apple handing over any control of the sale of their computers, but stranger things have happened. There are almost 2 more months before WWDC kicks off, so plenty of time for more rumors to bounce around the internet. I think we all agree that a new iPhone (or 3) will be announced, but how about a netbook? Send us your thoughts in the forums!

AT&T Confirms Efforts to Double 3G Network Speeds

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Date: Tuesday, April 21st, 2009, 07:01
Category: iPhone

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In an interview with TelephonyOnline, AT&T vice president of technology realization Scott McElroy has confirmed that the carrier is currently performing a variety of upgrades on its 3G network that should combine to double capacity in the coming months.
McElroy stated that his team plans to upgrade “the downlink capacity on its high-speed packet access (HSPA) from 3.6 megabits per second to 7.2 Mb/s through software upgrades at the base station.”
Though McElroy didn’t provide a timetable for the upgrade, he said that AT&T is in the process of field certifying the faster network in two test markets, adding that AT&T plans to eventually migrate its 3G networks to evolved-HSPA (or HSPA+), which would increase top speeds threefold.
AT&T could then theoretically upgrade its HSPA network to 14.4 Mb/s but is expected to forgo that option due to a technical problem and its ability to migrate directly to 21 Mb/s HSPA+, McElroy said. He told TelephonyOnline that AT&T will focus “on upgrades to the baseband, which will dramatically increase capacity without having to fiddle with the elements on the tower or in the core.”
McElroy also noted that AT&T is simultaneously upgrading its network backbone to handle the increased data traffic resulting from its network upgrades. He refused to reveal the exact extent of those upgrades.
Sources close to the story say Apple has set a strict deadline that asks AT&T to complete the upgrade, quality test it, and have it ready to go live no later than May 31st. The third-generation iPhone is expected to be unveiled a few weeks later.
Meanwhile, McElroy says AT&T is also looking further ahead, selecting vendors for its 4G (or long-term evolution (LTE)) network expected to go live in test markets by 2010 ahead of widespread commercial availability the following year.
The carrier will reportedly use both its 700 MHz and advanced wireless services (AWS) spectrum to facilitate the LTE launch, with other spectrums on reserve should 4G usage take off. It could also repurpose its 2G and 3G channels for LTE once users begin migrating off those channels to the 4th-gen network.

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