Saturday, December 4, 2010
Would a Verizon iPhone Help AT&T?
That's par for the course at AT&T where they always think about short term profits rather than long term viability. The analyst also predicts there won't be a massive loss in current iPhone subscribers. Something I believe will quickly prove to be completely wrong.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Verizon Draws Even With AT&T
AT&T should be jumping with joy; they are finally catching up to Verizon in the number of cell phone subscribers. The problem is, almost all of AT&T's sales growth for the last few years has been thanks to Apple's iPhone. And AT&T is about to lose iPhone exclusivity, after spending years doing everything it can to piss off iPhone users.
Verizon's less that thrilling summer shows that the Droid has been almost a total bust as a competitor for the iPhone. And that's not good news for AT&T, because it means they are more dependent than ever on Apple. Moreover, it means it's clearly critical that Verizon makes a deal with Apple to get the iPhone, and Apple will be able to demand the best terms. Not good news for either company.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
A Million AT&T Subscribers Want to Switch
I wonder how many people driving Fords would say they will switch to Chevy when they buy their next car? Or how many people watching a Sony TV would say they want a Panasonic instead? People are generally resistant to change unless necessary, and also instinctively loyal to whatever they already have even if there are better things in the world. So AT&T has to be actively pissing off people for them to want to switch.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
50 Million FaceTime Devices
That number could double instantly if Apple makes FaceTime available through iChat on all it's camera equipped computers and laptops. Being an open platform, that could then expand to hundreds of millions if Windows versions come out. No reason they shouldn't. And why shouldn't an Android app follow?
So basically, what we're talking about is the end of traditional phone service. Hmm… AT&T, time to rethink tiered pricing?
Friday, September 3, 2010
iPod Touch is an iPhone Without a Contract
I think Reschke is right that AT&T's move to tiered pricing pissed Steve Jobs off enough that he is now actively plotting against it. FaceTime could be the ultimate weapon to break teleco's hold on American communication services.
Others have dismissed FaceTime as little more than a new way to Sext. But sex is a big motivator, especially with young people. If they start using FaceTime initially to hook up, they might give up traditional phone calls for good.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
But here's some very good news:
Virgin Mobile Offers Unlimited Broadband Data
Now, I don't use Virgin's service and am not sure I will (at least right now), but it's great to see that one teleco (thanks Sprint) cares more about servicing customers than plotting against them. And for a lot of people (iPad users?) this deal might make a hell of a lot of sense.
What's even more great about it is that it proves AT&T's PR doublespeak for ripping off customers is totally false. Telcoms don't have to go to tiered pricing because of greedy "data" hogs. If that's the case, Virgin couldn't offer this deal. The facts are that most people buy data plans for more data than they regularly use, but like having steady, dependable fixed billing. So most of the people that buy into this Virgin deal will probably use no more data than they would have under a tiered pricing deal. And they'll probably end up paying a little more per-month on average for no contract, but they don't have worry about suddenly being presented with a huge bill they can't pay, just because they had a good month. And they don't have to worry about being locked into a two year deal. Freedom has a price, and it's almost always worth paying it.
This wasn't the way things were supposed to go for AT&T. All the other telcoms were supposed to jump on tiered pricing so customers wouldn't have a choice. Thanks Virgin/Sprint for showing that there is still some real business competition in America for mobile customers! Maybe the evil empire won't win.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Wired: Inside the iPhone Network Meltdown
It's got some interesting insights, particularly how pissed off Steve Jobs was about idiot boy Ralph de la Vega promising tethering was coming "soon" before a deal had been worked out with Apple on pricing.
But it misses a big point. It buys into the idea that AT&T was "shocked, shocked, shocked" that customers actually consumed a lot of data on their iPhones and simply couldn't keep up with demand. It details that AT&T wanted to ramp down certain iPhone features, like tethering and video, in order to help it keep up with data needs.
But this is bullshit. Vogelstein, probably trying to be balanced, buys into AT&T's lies about it's data problems. Any idiot could have seen the iPhone was going to use a lot of data. The biggest problem for AT&T is not handling data (though it clearly doesn't want to pay for the infrastructure necessary for quality service), but that it wanted to suppress features so customers continued to buy wi-fi and also to give it time to force in a tiered pricing system.
As Vogelstein points out, AT&T made record profits from it's wireless division thanks to the iPhone. The proper response to data needs would be to seriously invest in infrastructure, something AT&T only reluctantly did. And if that isn't enough, a modest raise in iPhone rates could have been justified.
iPhone customers biggest complaints are about dropped calls, which are not due to data demand, and lack of signal, which also has nothing to do with the amount of data being consumed. Speed, which is also not that great on AT&T, is the real victim of data demands, but most customers are willing to wait longer to get what they want. You loose a call, you get pissed off. You can't make a call, you get pissed off. You have to wait a little longer to download your Google map, not as big a deal. Data demand has NEVER been the real issue with the iPhone. Being able to make phone calls, THAT'S an issue. If you buy a cell phone in a major city, like New York, you expect to be able to make calls on it. No one has been yelling because they can't download pirated movies fast enough.
Meanwhile, AT&T had more important goals than servicing iPhone customers desire to simply make phone calls on their $100 a month two year minimum plans. They used iPhone profits to build out their cable and wi-fi business (which the wireless business competed against). iPhone customers ended up subsidizing all those McDonalds that offer free wi-fi. (And those $19.95 initial monthly cable service deals.) If people started using their iPhones for tethering (unless there was tiered pricing or it was cost prohibitive) and for video (therefore not needing AT&T's cable offerings) the wireless business might cut into AT&T's other, less profitable enterprises.
In short, AT&T was betting from the beginning against the iPhone and a wireless all you can eat network. They want a wired network (that they can control better) and a tiered wireless network that is too expense to really use for all their customer's needs. They want people to pay two bills.
AT&T's justification for tiered pricing is that most people DON'T use much data (which of course is a lie). The problem is not that AT&T didn't realize that it needed to build a much better wireless network to service customers, the problem is that AT&T doesn't want customers to have access to a really great wireless network. They want customers money, but they don't want to provide a service good enough to cut into their other business, which is wired. Also, they don't want customers to have a lot of options, which was what the lobbying against net neutrality was all about. AT&T spend it's early iPhone years hoping it could get Google to pay it extra money for simply providing access to it's internet sites. After buying out all those little regional companies, they wanted a deal to lock up the internet forever.
AT&T (and the other US telecoms) realize that wireless is dangerous. For all the bitching about finding places for towers, and needing spectrum, the real problem is that as technology improves, it will become easier and easier for competing companies to offer competing wireless services, and easier for products like the iPhone to switch carriers. If people abandon wired networks, AT&T will not only have wasted billions in buying up old wired networks, but will have real competition.
So the problem is not that AT&T didn't anticipate the future. AT&T doesn't want the future to happen. They are like feudal Japan when it decided they didn't like guns and preferred swords. That didn't work out very well in the long run and AT&T's giant bet against wireless will turn out to be a bad move too.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Why iPhone on Verizon May No Longer Be a Rumor
Unfortunately, Faulker makes a powerful argument we may have to wait until next year for a LTE iPhone so that Apple can skip over CDMA all together. While this makes some sense in the "Apple doesn't go backwards" argument, it's hard to see why Apple can't make a lot of money off the existing CDMA market in the US (and in Korea). Why give that up, especially when Apple seems to expect it's own customers to buy new phones every couple years? (And they happily do.) For the sake of suffering AT&T customers, I hope other rumors of a Verizon iPhone in the fall come true.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Class Action Lawsuit Against AT&T and Apple Over Data Limits on iPad
This is just the beginning of problems for AT&T over it's greedy and irrational desire to force tiered pricing on unwilling customers. The specifics here, that customers were promised unlimited data for iPads, and then suddenly found out they can't have it as promised, are pretty straight forward. Customers bought iPad's based on those promises, and then AT&T decided to change the rules with little notice (or reason) and rip them off. End of lawsuit, AT&T pays.
The problem for AT&T is once a class action lawsuit gets started, there is no telling where it will go. Hopefully, where this one will go is to question the entire economic logic behind tiered pricing. I suspect, once we see the e-mails between AT&T execs over their real reasons for capping data, and find out the real stats on iPhone and iPad usage, we'll quickly find out AT&T has been lying through it's teeth about wanting to "lower" prices for customers. We'll find out that the whole tiered pricing scheme was, as everyone knows, simply an effort to gouge customers who have no choice to switch carriers.
Maybe the settlement will also force Apple to dump it's exclusivity deal with AT&T. We can only hope.
JAILBREAK YOUR 3G IPHONE AND SWITCH TO T-MOBILE
The logic works like this. You hate AT&T. You've put up with their crap for years. You almost are considering abandoning Apple and switching to Android. But don't give up yet. Surely the iPhone 4.0 will come to other carriers, eventually…
But if you buy a new iPhone 4.0, in order to use it, you'll be stuck with a new two year contract with AT&T. Don't do it! Better to jailbreak your old phone and have some fun with a new carrier (and get free tethering!). Then when the iPhone 4.0 is finally available for other carriers, you'll have some real choice at last without having to pay to get out of your AT&T contract.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
According to the mainstream press, evil "data hogs" have been ruining AT&T's iPhone service for everyone. Because of them, AT&T claims it was forced to initiate a tiered pricing plan that supposedly will make everyone happy except those evil data hogs.
For example, the New York Times states: "The trouble for AT&T was that a fraction of users-fewer than 2 percent-made such heavy use of the network that they slowed it down for everyone else." The Times doesn't state where it came up with that number, presumably AT&T. In the same piece, telecommunications industry analyst, Roger Entner, says: "The free lunch for the ultra-heavy data user has been taken off the menu." In the Los Angeles Times, Jack Plunkett, another analyst states: "There are a handful of subscribers that are using a ton of bandwidth…" No facts or figures are independently confirmed or researched by either paper, which seems odd since there would seem to be some big logic holes in this "data hog" story. (For example, all of AT&T's iPhone contracts have a data cap of 5 gigs which isn't a lot for supposedly "unlimited" plans.) Thanks for keeping your readers informed, leaders of the fourth estate!
While AT&T Critic doesn't have access to the same crack reporting staffs that are able to reword AT&T press releases, repeat corporate dogma without question and quote paid industry analysts without any fact checking, we do have this EXCLUSIVE interview with one of those elusive DATA HOGS.
AT&T Critic: "Hello, so you are a real life iPhone data hog?"
Data Hog: "Yes. I'm a data hog. Oink. Oink."
AT&T Critic: "I have to say, I didn't really believe you existed. I thought you were just a mythical corporate scapegoat invented to justify a complicated tiered pricing scheme aimed at ripping off all customers."
Data Hog: "No, no, I really exist, I suck up lots and lots of data and ruin things for everyone."
AT&T Critic: "But AT&T widely advertised that it was offering "unlimited" data access for iPhone customers. Why are you such a bad person because you take full advantage of a service they promoted that you paid for under a minimum two year contract?"
Data Hog: "Because I hog so much data."
AT&T Critic: "AT&T says that 98% of smart phone customers use less that 2 gigs of data and even claims that 65% use less that 200 megs. These are very low amounts of supposedly unlimited data. So isn't the real story that most smart phone customers aren't using their phones that much and AT&T has been racking in profits on people who are paying for services they barely use?"
Data Hog: "No, no, that's not the story, the story is that data hogs are ruining things."
AT&T Critic: "But how could AT&T not assume in advance that some small percentage of people might use data more than others? Where is the surprise in that? After all, it actually seems pretty amazing that only 2 percent of people are using more than 2 gigs. How could AT&T have not planned on some tiny percentage of people taking them up on their widely advertised offer of unlimited data? Why should that be such a problem?"
Data Hog: "Because I'm such a hog. I'm ruining it for everyone else."
AT&T Critic: "That makes absolutely no sense. Cable companies don't get upset when people watch more TV. 24 hour fitness centers don't get upset when people work out a lot. It would seem that you're one of AT&T's best customers. Why should you be vilified?"
Data Hog: "Because… I'm evil? Oink?"
AT&T Critic: "In addition to paying $30 a month for the right to use "unlimited" data, you also have to pay above average fees for having an iPhone. I still don't understand what you've done wrong. I assume if you're such a heavy data user, you probably do a lot of texting, which AT&T has the highest rates for, and therefore they get extra money from that. Not to mention you probably use your phone a lot and pay for unlimited minutes. If you use so much data, perhaps you're a customer of AT&T's internet service, second lines and land lines. AT&T offers mapping and family tracking services for extra fees… surely you're a customer with above average phone bills all around. AT&T must be making a ton of money off you already."
Data Hog: "No, no, I don't do any of that. I don't text, use the phone, or anything. I just hog data."
AT&T Critic: "Even if you personally are not using a lot of AT&T's expensive services, a large percentage of other supposed "data hogs" probably represent AT&T's most valuable business customers. So, what exactly are you doing with all this data you're hogging?"
Data Hog: "Oh, I'm just hogging it. Lots of it. Lot's of data. I'm a data hog."
AT&T Critic: "But what EXACTLY is the data? What is it you're down loading all the time?"
Data Hog: (Long pause.) "Umm… porn."
AT&T Critic: "Porn? Why are you downloading porn on your iPhone? But why not use your computer if you want that much porn? I mean, wouldn't it be faster? In fact, if you're doing a lot of data hogging, why not use faster services like wi-fi, many that are free? Why would you use your iPhone to download lots of data? It doesn't make any sense."
Data Hog: "Because… I'm evil?"
AT&T Critic: "Well, okay, but exactly how much data are you hogging?"
Data Hog: "Oh, tons and tons. All porn."
AT&T Critic: "AT&T already has a 5 gig per month limit on iPhones. So if you went over that, why didn't AT&T cut off your service or bill you extra?"
Data Hog: "I don't know…"
AT&T Critic: "I mean, if data hogs are a problem, isn't it AT&T's fault for not enforcing it's contractual 5 gig limit? If congestion was really all because 2 percent of customers who were violating their contracts, why didn't AT&T cut them off or charge them extra? Why change the rates for everyone because AT&T didn't follow it's own rules? Are you saying that AT&T's service problems were all AT&T's fault for not enforcing their own limits in the first place?"
Data Hog: "Umm… maybe I was just under 5 gigs."
AT&T Critic: "So data hogs are really a tiny 2 percent of iPhone customers who went over 2 gigs (which is about two feature films a month) and less than 5 gigs using a service advertised as "unlimited?" Anyone watching You Tube on a two hour daily train commute could use 5 gigs a month easily. Why should these people be condemned as data hogs and have their rates doubled? And why should everyone else have to worry about their phone bills suddenly spiking, when they had been using well under the iPhone's contractual capacity? Isn't the real story here that people have not been using much data on their iPhones, so AT&T is lowering it's data limits to bill everyone more? Wouldn't a better justification of raising rates be that everyone was using lots of data, not just a few data hogs? Wouldn't the real way of solving this imaginary "data hog" problem just be to enforce the original contracts 5 gig limit or lower it to 4 gigs if necessary? That is, unless AT&T is lying about data hogs being a problem, and simply wants to raise rates on everyone."
Data Hog: "Oink… oink, did I mention I hog data?"
AT&T Critic: "Isn't the truth that you are not a mythical data hog at all. You're just Randall Stephenson wearing a fake pig nose?"
Data Hog: "No comment."
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
There is no "news" here, and no new here either. We simply have the repetition of a rumor which happens a lot about anything involving new Apple products. These things come and go quickly in the Apple gossip world. But something about this particular rumor is keeping it alive despite any new facts.
The thing is, it just makes a hell of a lot of sense. We've been waiting for some time to see what Apple's move is going to be in regard to dumping it's exclusive deal with AT&T. If it isn't true, then, boy, there was a missed opportunity. One thing that I don't think anyone considered until now was the huge value of free publicity Sprint would get (and which it needs) if it was the first carrier to have a non-AT&T iPhone. The publicity is worth millions already.
In fact, the publicity is so good, it's possible someone involved in Sprint might be behind the leak. Got no proof of that either, but it's interesting to think about. I'm still digging an I'll keep you posted.