Nothing quite says, "Meh, at least it's better than a fruitcake" than a digital photo frame for the holidays, but at least AT&T had the good sense to go with a wireless version for its holiday promotion. Available right away, last minute holiday shoppers can pick up a Pandigital Photo Mail 8-Inch Digital Photo Frame via the wireless carrier.
The device runs $120 and includes the ability to receive 60 photos at no additional cost. After that, you can purchase photo allotments in bundles of 100 ($10), $400 ($30), and 700 ($50).
The digital frame connects to email through AT&T's wireless network so that family and friends can send photos directly to the device using their own email account on any Internet-connected device that supports email. Other features include an LED display, 800x600 resolution, and 1GB of internal memory.
Apple couldn't have picked a worse wireless carrier to enter into an exclusivity agreement to carry the iPhone, and we mean that literally, at least according to a new survey by Consumer Reports.
The consumer advocate group pinged more than 58,000 ConsumerReports.org subscribers about their cell phone carriers, and it was AT&T that scored the worst for overall satisfaction, dropping "significantly" from one year ago. And get this -- more than half of the AT&T customers surveyed were iPhone owners. In fact, Consumer Reports points out that "iPhone owners were much less satisfied with their carrier and rated data service (Web and email) lower than owners of smartphones on other carriers that, like the iPhone, have a host of apps to encourage heavy data use."
Where there's smoke there's usually fire, and there has been a ton of smoke signals saying the iPhone is headed to Verizon. If AT&T wasn't worried before, it should be now. Verizon ranked second among all mobile phone service providers, trailing U.S. Cellular for the top spot.
"Our survey suggests that an iPhone from Verizon Wireless, which is rumored, could indeed be good news for iPhone fans," said Paul Reynolds, Electronics Editor for Consumer Reports.
The survey also touched on the topic of bill shock with one in five respondents saying they've received an unexpectedly high cell phone bill in the previous year, usually for exceeding their plan's voice, text, or data limits.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab is perhaps the most talked about tablet since the iPad, mainly because it presents the first real threat to Apple's dominance in the tablet space. Reviews have started appearing on the Web and we'll add our own impression before long, but in the meantime, we have a pair of launch dates to share.
First up is AT&T, which announced it will launch the Galaxy Tab on Sunday, November 21 in non-subsidized form. There's no mandatory two-year service agreement that accompanies the device, the trade-off being higher upfront pricing to the tune of $650. For those who care to do so, AT&T will offer a $15 pay-as-you-go plan for up to 250MB of usage/month, as well as a $25/month plan for up to 2GB of data. Neither plan requires a long-term contract.
Meanwhile. U.S. Cellular is taking the opposite approach and will begin selling the Tab on November 19th for $400 after a $100 mail-in-rebate. That's a subsidized price and requires a two-year service commitment. You can choose between U.S. Cellular's $15/month plan for up to 200MB of data, or $55/month for up to 5GB of network data usage.
There was a lot of confusion about Windows Phone 7's microSD card support approaching the launch. Most phones do not have a slot, and some of those that do are not accessible. One notable exception is the Samsung Focus on AT&T, which gives users easy access to the card. Now Engadget has gotten word that AT&T is recommending that people not try to swap in a bigger card, or risk degrading performance.
The problem is in the way Windows Phone 7 uses that extra space. It is merged with the internal NAND flash memory to create one data store. So a card that isn't up to snuff could bring things to a messy halt. AT&T says that cards will be available in the future that are "Certified for Windows Phone 7". They have also cautioned that the speed class rating is not the only determining factor.
Microsoft was aware of this issue prior to the launch, but for some reason AT&T is only getting around to telling customers now. Do you have a Samsung Focus? Have you successfully swapped the microSD card?
It's probably not the story Microsoft was hoping for, but the first round of Windows Phone 7 sales are looking lackluster. Redmond spent heavily -- reportedly over $100 million -- on advertising for the launch. But The Street is reporting that total sales between AT&T and T-Mobile Monday were about 40,000 units. This doesn't include the nearly 90,000 phones handed out to Microsoft employees.
Many popular Android handsets, and certainly the iPhone, do considerably better on opening day. But it's not curtains for Microsoft in the mobile space. The platform is still very new, and has time to grow. Android had a similarly slow start, only getting up to speed a year later. Still, Android had a much more wide-open market to grow into.
We've heard reports that Windows Phone 7 handsets could be in short supply, so it's possible that has something to do with the numbers. The holiday numbers will be more informative. Do you think Windows Phone 7 has a shot?
After a little over three years, Apple's iPhone continues to prop up AT&T's wireless business, at least in part. Out of the 8 million smartphones AT&T said it activated in the third quarter, more than half -- 5.2 million -- were iPhones.
AT&T announced the numbers as part of its third quarter earnings, in which the wireless carrier posted "record wireless sales." In addition to 8 million smartphones, AT&T said it added 2.6 million wireless subscribers, "the highest third-quarter net gain in the company's history," and now claims 92.8 million subscribers overall.
With Apple's iPhone playing such an important role in AT&T's wireless business, it will be interesting to see how the company fares should the iPhone make its rumored trek to Verizon in 2011.
As expected, AT&T on Sunday started selling Motorola's FlipOut, a smartphone very much reminiscent of Microsoft's failed Kin One device.
Teens and young adults didn't exactly flip out over the Kin One, and we'd be surprised if Motorola's FlipOut fares any better. The funky looking device sports a swivel screen with a hardware keyboard underneath, a 3MP camera, expandable memory (microSD card), Bluetooth 2.1, 3G, and 512MB of memory. Unlike the Kin One, the FlipOut features Android's 2.1 platform, which might make it more appealing. However, the device also requires a data plan, which could end up being a tough sell considering the target audience (teens).
The FlipOut is availble for $80 with a 2-year service agreement, or $380 outright.
You've probably heard the horror stories, maybe you've even experienced it yourself. The cell phone bill comes, and it is unexpectedly massive. Huge overages happen more than expected, so much in fact, that it's been given a name: "bill shock". The FCC received 764 complaints in just the first 6 months of the year, and a survey showed that 30 million Americans have experienced this. Now it looks like the FCC might be about to take action.
According to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the agency will propose rules tomorrow that will force the carriers to alert users via voice or text when they are about to go over their plan's limits and incur extra fees. The carriers are not particularly pleased with this possibility. The VP of CTIA ( an industry trade group) said in an interview that, "The industry continues to develop tools to keep customers informed about their level of usage." He also cautioned against " prescriptive and costly rules." We're not sure what needs to be developed. SMS works just fine as it is.
Some customers have ended up being stuck with bills in the tens of thousands after traveling, or changing their plan. Wireless carriers often end up cutting them a deal, but still ask for substantial sums of cash. The FCC has intervened in some of these incidents, but if new rules are adopted this problem could go away altogether. Have you ever had a case of bill shock? Let us in on the sordid details.
Consider this a PSA for AT&T subscribers. The cost to upgrade your smartphone is now $125 higher than it was just over a week ago.
The increase, which was first discovered by Boy Genius Report, applies to anyone trying to upgrade to a new smartphone less than 18 months into their current two-year agreement. It now costs $200 to do so, whereas previously AT&T was charging customers $75.
"As smartphones become increasingly more sophisticated, the cost of these devices has also increased," an alleged AT&T document reads. "However, early (exception) upgrade pricing still allows us to provide a price point lower than No-Commitment pricing to our smartphone customers if needed."
There is an exception to the rule -- care to guess what it is? If you said Apple's iPhone, congratulations, you win the no-prize.
It was going to be a tough sell from the beginning, but now Qualcomm has thrown in the towel and is closing their consumer-oriented FLO TV business. FLO TV was a product that users could buy that streamed TV content wirelessly to the device. However, the stand-alone unit was expensive and the monthly subscription fees turned many users off. Verizon and AT&T eventually became distribution partners, but the service failed to catch on there as well.
Qualcomm may be looking to use their spectrum to transmit other content in the future. In fact, the spectrum is likely worth a large sum, possible as high as $2 billion. In the age of services like Hulu and Netflix, it seems like Qualcomm just misread the market. Do you think they could have salvaged this venture?