Forget about getting your dad a new tie for Father's Day or some other lame gift, T-Mobile wants you to think about getting him a smartphone instead. To help nudge you in that direction, the wireless carrier is offering every phone in every T-Mobile store for free this Saturday, June 19, 2010.
"For this very special day celebrating dad and the entire family, T-Mobile is thrilled to offer an industry-first promotion that helps families stay connected," said Adrian Hurditch, vice president of marketing, T-Mobile USA. "This unprecedented event champions dad and helps families stick together with the latest phones — all for free."
Naturally there are some strings attached. The offer is only valid at T-Mobile owned and operated locations, and it requires either signing a two-year contract on a family plan, or adding a new line to an existing plan. In addition, the promotion is good only while supplies last, so if you're hoping to snag an HTC HD2 or myTouch 3G Slide, you'll want to show up early.
It's a good idea to closely monitor your monthly cell phone usage, especially if you're on a family or some other kind of shared plan. Otherwise, you could end up with "bill shock" at the end of the month. As the FCC tells it, one out of every six Americans has been caught off guard with a higher-than-expected cell phone bill.
This stat comes as part of an FCC-commissioned study in which it was discovered that some 30 million Americans have been surprised at their phone bill. Out of those, 33 percent said their bill was $50 more than what they were expecting, while 23 percent said it was more than $100.
The FCC wants put into place new rules in the mobile phone industry that would prevent bill shock from happening, such as requiring carriers to notify customers when their cell phone bills start to get out of whack. In the meantime, treat the study as a reminder to keep tabs on how many minutes you and your family are chewing through every month.
It's tough to enjoy the sand and palm trees when you're busy hammering out an email or text message to your boss, but for most, that's exactly what ends up happening when on vacation. According to the second annual Mobile Messaging Study conducted by Osterman Research, some 79 percent of respondents said they take their work-related devices with them to the Bahamas, or wherever else it is they're vacationing.
"Mobile messaging has become crucial to businesses and employees alike, but constant access to email makes it difficult for some workers to unwind," said Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research. "Mobile access to email is certainly a critical aspect of how we do business now, but it is important to remember that there is a time and place for everything."
Nevertheless, work often gets in the way of finding some downtime. Almost half of all respondents admitted to traveling up to 10 miles to check email during a vacation, and more than one third even check their mail on a mobile device during vacation activities like skiing, horseback riding, and biking, Osterman Research reports.
Call us old and cranky, but we find it highly disturbing that today's youth are more likely to own a mobile phone than a good novel, or so says a new study by the National Literacy Trust. According to the study, nearly nine in 10 pupils own a cell phone, compared to fewer than three-quarters who have their own books in the home. Should be concerned?
The answer is yes. The National Literacy Trust set out to find a link a between regular access to books outside of school and high test scores, and what they found is that about 80 percent of children with above average reading ability skills owned their own books.
"Our research illustrates the clear link with literacy resources at home and a child’s reading ability, as well the vital importance of family encouragement," said Jonathan Douglas, National Literacy Trust director. "By ensuring children have access to reading materials in the home and by encouraging children to love reading, families can help them to do well at school and to enjoy opportunities throughout their life."
No small study, the trust pinged over 17,000 school children between the ages of 7 and 16. Of them, 85.5 percent said they own a mobile phone, while 72.6 percent said they own their own books.
Someone in Facebook's think-tank deserves a raise, because this latest idea is nothing short of brilliant. Helping users side step data charges that would normally occur from accessing the social networking site on the go, Facebook has gone and partnered with 50 wireless operators so that cell phone users can log in without being charged a cent.
"We are targeting people whose major barrier is they have little experience on the mobile Internet. They want to try it, they want something super simple, super fast. And they are potentially afraid of browsing costs," said Henri Moissinac, who heads Facebook's mobile business. "If you take an iPhone user in San Francisco, that's not his problem."
The way it works is users will direct their phone's browser to 0.facebook.com, which is a text-only version of Facebook. It's designed specifically for mobile phones working with limited bandwidth.
Unfortunately for those us in the States, Facebook doesn't have any domestic partnerships in place, though Henri Moissinac, the head honcho for Facebook's mobile business, says he hopes to eventually strike some deals. In the meantime, the new site is available in 40 different countries, including Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Turkey.
Two-year service agreements have become the norm as wireless providers try to entice potential subscribers with subsidized smartphones, but according to an AP report, it isn't necessarily working. Instead, buyers are trending towards prepaid cell phone service.
"I would love to have an iPhone. I just can't swallow the $70 or more bill that would come with it," said Jeff Finlay, a 45-year-old stay-at-home dad in San Antonio.
With most prepaid services, consumers can buy minutes in advance usually for around 10 cents to 20 cents each. When the minutes run out, they can simply refill their accounts. For the past several years, prepaid plans mainly targeted consumers who didn't have the credit to qualify for a wireless plan, but have started to see a wider audience more recently as everyone looks to cut back costs. According to the New Millennium Research Council, about one-fifth of Americans with cell phones are on prepaid.
Making prepaid service even more popular, it's now possible to make unlimited calls and text messages for $45 a month, or half of what it would cost with a contract on Verizon. Not everyone needs unlimited usage however, and at Tracfone, the largest independent provider of prepaid service, customers pay an average of $11 per month.
Mobile phones have become so affordable in recent years that it's no longer uncommon to find consumers willing to ditch their landline and fly solo with a wireless account. Certainly that's the case in almost 25 percent of U.S. homes, according a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC pinged some 21,375 households giving residence to more than 40,000 adults over the age of 18 and nearly 15,000 children. What they found was that 24.5 percent of those homes had at least one mobile phone and no landline account in the second half of 2009. In addition, one out of every seven U.S. homes (14.9 percent) had a landline but received all or nearly all calls on wireless telephones.
The CDC has been conducting cell phone surveys since 2003 and has seen first hand the decline of landlines in favor of mobile phones. Back in 2003, less than 5 percent of homes were mobile-phone only.
Nobody wants to tear open their mobile phone bill and find that they owe $18,000 like the Verizon customer whose two-year unlimited data promotional plan ran out, and was then charged on a per kilobyte basis. It happens, though not awlays to such extremes, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to put an end to the practice of it calls "bill shock."
According to an AP report, the FCC is considering mandates that would require wireless phone companies to alert consumers in advance of reaching roaming or data usage limits on their wireless plans, which would effectively put the onus on the subscriber to keep bills from ballooning. But is it already there?
That depends on who you ask. The reason the FCC is getting involved in the first place is because it has received hundreds of complaints from across the country dealing with every major carrier. But what do the wireless carriers think?
A spokesman for Verizon Wireless said his company already offers customers safeguards against so called "bill shock," including the ability to look up monthly wireless usage through their phones and online tools to set limits. Verizon said it would even retroactively change a customer's wireless plan to help reduce an unexpectedly high bill.
Is the FCC doing the right thing by stepping in, or is it ultimately up to the customers to do a better job at regulating themselves?
Recent rumblings have suggested that Apple's iPhone is headed to Verizon this summer, but is it really? Engadget on Monday said it confirmed that Apple and AT&T entered into a five-year exclusivity agreement back in 2007, which means AT&T is the only game in town until 2012, seemingly putting an end to the rumors saying otherwise. The only problem is, the rumors are getting louder.
Just yesterday CrunchGear uncovered that a media company called Landor Associates is putting together an advertising campaign for Verizon and Apple's upcoming iPhone 4G. The info comes by way of a tipster, so take this one at face value, but as far as CrunchGear is concerned, this "very nearly confirms a Verizon launch of the iPhone at the end of the summer."
While we're hesitant to fully believe an un-named tipster talking about an unconfirmed rumor, one thing we do know is that even if AT&T and Apple did sign a five year agreement in 2007, it's still possible the iPhone could end up elsewhere. Contracts have a way of being revised, after all, so we wouldn't be terribly shocked if the iPhone readlly did end up on Verizon.
Would you be interested in an iPhone if it was offered through Verizon? What mobile phone are you using now?
Taking a design cue from the popular SideKick, T-Mobile today announced the myTouch 3G Slide smartphone with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and a touchscreen.
"Many smartphones are increasingly powerful in their features and specifications without continuing to improve the main reason that so many people have mobile phones - the ability to communicate with each other," said Andrew Sherrard, vice president of product development, T-Mobile USA. "The new myTouch 3G Slide is a smart and sleek phone that fits into your pocket, your budget and your family life with exclusive T-Mobile features that put communication with your closest family and friends front and center."
The myTouch 3G Slide comes built around Google's Android 2.1 platform, giving it instant street cred. Other features include a 3.4-inch HVGA touchscreen display with virtual keyboard, 5MP camera, pre-installed 8GB microSD memory card, 3.5mm jack, and a whole bunch of customized apps like the Faves Gallery (social aggregrator for your contacts), myModes (profile manager for changing the phone's themes and settings based on time and location), Swype Keyboard, and more.
T-Mobile will offer the myTouch 3G in black, white, or red starting in June for an as yet undetermined price.