File this one under 'A' for "alleged," but according to one pissed off cell phone service subscriber who wrote into The Consumerist, AT&T's store employees have a history of telling bold faced lies to boost their commission.
That's quite the accusation, but according to an anonymous Consumerist reader, who we'll hereafter refer to as Walt Whislteblower, it's true. According to Walt, poor service on T-Mobile's network in the Northampton, Massachusetts area prompted him and his wife to switch providers to AT&T, who they heard from other people in the area had good coverage. Walt says an AT&T store employee offered to waive the activation fees, gave the couple free phones, and tossed in a month of free GPS service for good measure.
Not a bad score, except that none of it turned out to be true. Walt says he and his wife were billed for all the charges that were supposed to have been taken off. Walt's wife called AT&T's billing department, and what they heard was "shocking and unexpected honesty."
Hit the jump to find out what the billing department had to say.
Doom and gloom in the computer industry is usually a troubling sign for the economy as a whole, but if you’re on the market for new hardware this fall it could translate into some pretty big savings for you! According to the Associated Press Intel has lowered its third quarter forecast in response to weaker than expect chip sales, a key indicator for the rest of the PC industry. This was further re-enforced with shaky forecasts from both Hewlett-Packard and Dell who claim the back to school buying season is off to an abnormally slow start.
Falling component prices and continually rising stockpiles of computer hardware are combining to create a buyers’ market in the coming months, but let’s just hope it isn’t a prelude to another full blown recession. Intel is still forecasting revenues of anywhere from $10.8 billion to $11.2 billion mind you, so it can’t be all that bad.
Many industry watchers think they have caught the foul whiff of a PC sales slump. Their increasingly negative market outlook is beginning to affect share prices of tech behemoths like AMD and Intel. Now, that negative outlook has elicited a very strong reaction from Microsoft. A slowdown, or mere talk of a slowdown, is the last thing the company needs at this stage. After all, Redmond has been waiting for the PC market to fully recover from a previous slump so it can make the most of Windows 7's phenomenal show.
Bill Koefoed, Microsoft's General Manager of Investor Relations, accused analysts of hastily jumping to conclusions during Oppenheimer’s Annual Technology, Media & Telecommunications Conference in Boston. “I don’t know that I would take two guys that go visit some ODM (original design manufacturer) in Taiwan as a reference on what the market looks like. I would gather a lot of information and then decide what you think that it looks like.”
He is not really alarmed by the constant “chatter” about the PC market slowing down: “You know, whether or not the market’s up or down one month or another, I don’t know, there tends to be, since I’ve had this job, there tends to be a lot of chatter.”
Another top Microsoft executive was also quick to downplay all such apprehensions while speaking at the Pacific Crest Leadership Forum on August 10. Robert Youngjohns, Microsoft SVP and president, North America Sales & Marketing, reminded everyone that besides PCs, “a substantial part of our business in North America is selling infrastructure software like Windows Server 2008, like SQL Server, like System Center, the stuff that runs the enterprise not just the PC.”
Notebook vendors are scrambling trying to figure out why demand has weakened to the point where they're suddenly stuck with a backlog of inventory. In both North America and Europe, notebook inventory levels are sitting at 5-6 weeks, compared to the normal level of 3-4 weeks, Digitimes reports.
This could simply be the fallout of a slowed down economic recovery, or it could be that consumers are looking to spend their money on other mobile devices, like the suddenly affordable spate of eBook readers or upcoming flurry of tablet PCs.
Either way, notebook vendors are holding out hope that the downfall in sales is only temporary and will recover this month and next. At the same time, Digitimes points out that downstream notebook makers have reduced their component orders in July, which suggests that they could be in for a slow summer and back-to-school shopping season.
Sources are saying today that RIM's rumored iPad competitor is coming in November of this year, just in time for the holiday tablet buying season. The device is expected to have the same approximate physical dimensions of the iPad, i.e. a 9.7-inch screen. The tablet will have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The Bluetooth would be used to tether the tablet to a Blackberry smartphone for data.
Apple has, thus far, run away with the consumer tablet space, selling over 3 million iPads since March. Analysts fear that any company that cannot become competitive by the holidays will be unable to catch up to Apple.
The Blackberry operating system has been falling behind in recent years, though a new version is expected to bring some improvements. Still, we were never completely happy with the Storm or Storm 2. Do you think a Blackberry tablet will fare better against the iPad, than the Storm did against the iPhone?
You hear a lot of doom and gloom stories about Microsoft these days, but the Redmond software giant seems to be doing just fine. In the midst of earnings season, Microsoft has taken the opportunity to announce that they've sold 175 million copies of Windows 7 since its release. This keeps up the convenient rate of about 7 copies per second we heard a few months ago.
The interesting thing about the numbers is that demand is not yet falling off. People are adopting Windows 7 in droves, in many cases moving right from XP. While Microsoft probably isn't thrilled about people skipping Vista, the massive step up to Windows 7 is likely to impress skeptical consumers. One last stat from Microsoft; Windows 7 is now running on 16% of the world's PCs. Not bad.
Are you a Windows 7 user? If you made the jump from XP, let us know what you think about the latest and greatest.
Many expect the new wave of devices with digital reading capabilities to precipitate the demise of physical books, limiting them to atavists. That said, there is no dearth of people who fervidly repel these antemortem requiems for books as we know and love them. With a great deal of its business centered around the popularity of e-books, Amazon is undoubtedly of the former type.
Amazon is now selling more Kindle books than hardcover books, according to a press release. Kindle books have outsold the latter variety by 43% during the past three months, with that margin shooting up to 80% during the past month. But numbers don’t tell the entire story, especially when they are not meant to. Amazon intentionally left out paperback sales numbers from the equation.
“We've reached a tipping point with the new price of Kindle-the growth rate of Kindle device unit sales has tripled since we lowered the price from $259 to $189," said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon.com. “Amazon.com customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books-astonishing when you consider that we've been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months."
ATI came screaming out of the gate with a competitive lineup of GPU's just in time for the release of DirectX 11, and we now know it's a gamble that seems to have paid off. According to numbers released late last week AMD shipped more than 16 million 5000 series GPU's in the last 9 months, an increase of nearly 87 per cent over the results from the prior year.
Despite the positive sales numbers AMD still posted a net loss of $1.65 billion $43 million in Q2, but with revenues of more than $1.65 billion it shouldn’t take too long to turn this around. "Robust demand for our latest mobile platforms and solid execution drove record second quarter revenue and a healthy gross margin," said Dirk Meyer, AMD President and CEO. "We added Sony as a microprocessor customer and continue to see our existing customers expand their AMD-based platform offerings".
With three new GPU's on the market Nvidia finally has some skin in the game, but this is a far cry from the nearly 12 different offerings from ATI that hit up just about every price point imaginable. Nvidia still controls the lion share of the market, but this is the first sizable dent ATI has managed to put in its competitor.
Given that ATI has almost as many DirectX11 GPU's on the market as Sony has PS3's, we can't help but wonder, where are all the games!
EDITED: To Reflect Proper Sales / Loss Information.
Microsoft's latest productivity suite's first few weeks on the market have been disappointing, according to Stephen Baker, NPD Group's VP of industry analysis. The market research firm's Weekly Tracking Service found Office 2010 trailing its predecessor, both in terms of unit sales and revenue, when only the first two weeks were considered.
Baker blamed Office 2010's lackluster start to the fact that it was “launched into a saturated market” and that too in the middle of a “seasonally slow period for PC purchases which have, over time, proven to be a have a strong impact on Office sales.” However, Microsoft can take heart from that fact that Office 2010 has improved upon Office 2007's sales pattern so far this year.
“Office 2007 was a radical new design that certainly helped deliver a lot of curious buyers and it was launched nearly parallel with Vista, adding a good deal of promotional activity in the software aisle, both of which likely helped drive initial sales of Office 2007,” Baker wrote in a blog post. “While Office 2010 has many compelling new features, it is always an uphill battle to sell a high installed base product based on new features alone.”
The analyst sees tremendous promise in the key card program, which lets users activate Office 2010 on preloaded machines using a product key (no disc required). Baker revealed that the key card program currently accounts for “about one-third of the unit volume.”
Baker does not foresee web-based productivity applications posing any real threat to Office 2010 in the immediate future: “Over time it is certainly likely that we will see some slowdown in retail sales as consumers alter their productivity software habits, but that time is not now. Mainstream consumers have not embraced the concept of the cloud, nor are they likely in the short to mid-term, making most of the questions around free software moot.”
Sometimes it escapes our attention that people are still buying huge numbers of PCs these days. Intel's quarterly profit announcement reminded everyone of that today with news that the chip maker had record profits of $2.9 billion. Not to belabor the point, but that is all raw profit, not revenue.
The new numbers display a solid increase of $445 million over last quarter, and a massive $3.3 billion increase from last year. Not only did regular CPU sales blow up, but Atom revenue was up a respectable 16%. Any way you slice it, it's good to be Intel right now. Did you buy any Intel chips in the last few months? Upon reflection, we realized we may have more than a little to do with their profits.