Read the review here: http://www.theverge.com/2012/9/30/3433110/amazon-kindle-paperwhite-review
“Words? They’re meaningless”, says Verizon boss, a man who talks dollars but not much sense
Tags: Verizon 3G 4G mobile data tariffs AT&T T-Mobile Sprint money Technology
The CFO of US carrier Verizon would have us believe that the word “unlimited” doesn’t mean anything because “it’s just a word.” So is “cobblers”. By Martyn Warwick.
In the industry we are all aware that when manufacturers, telcos and analysts wax lyrical about “4G” they don’t really mean “4G” at all – but LTE just doesn’t have the same cachet, immediacy or street cred.
So we use “4G” as short-hand and marketing-speak that is designed, in the final analysis, to attract the attention (and hard cash) of those trendy consumers who just have to be first with every new gizmo and technology and are thus prepared to stand-in-line for days and nights waiting to get their hands on the latest over-priced gadget – as we saw amply demonstrated yet again only last week.
However, to 99.999 per cent of us, the word “unlimited” has a real, solid meaning in just the same way as the word “plonker” does.
There are several definitions of “unlimited” dependent on which dictionary or thesaurus you might be reading but all agree that ‘unlimited’ means numberless, countless, measureless, inexhaustible, indefinite, without number, boundless, perpetual and endless, unrestricted, unconfined, unconditional, vast and without qualification or exception.
Pretty clear then, you might think, ah, but then you are not Francis J. (“Fran”) Shammo, the Chief Financial Officer of US telco, Verizon. Speaking on Thursday last at the Goldman Sachs “Communacopia Conference 2012″ Mr. Shammo told his audience that when Verizon says “unlimited” it doesn’t mean ‘unlimited’ because ‘unlimited’ is “just a word” that “doesn’t really mean anything”.
It seems that as far as Verizon’s CFO is concerned, words that fail to chime with Verizon’s peculiar world view do not have any meaning, thus negating the universally accepted fact that what separates us from animals is our unique ability to use language to communicate with one another and work to achieve common goals.
Shammo is, of course, talking about data in general and mobile data in particular and is employing weasel words to justify Verizon’s determination to consign its so-called “unlimited” data tariffs to the dustbin of history.
Now, there may be perfectly valid commercial reasons to withdraw the “all you can eat and stuff down your trousers” offers that were made when mobile data traffic was in its infancy and telcos were desperate to monetise novel services, but Verizon won’t be brave and upfront about it and so is weaving an elaborate and deceptive rationale to persuade customers away from “unlimited” data packages and on to something else that will, of course, cost them more.
That’s why Fran Shammo said this, “What customers are understanding and through our good sales routine is once you explain to a customer their usage on a monthly basis, unlimited is just a word, it doesn’t really mean anything and that people don’t really – I think a lot of consumers think they consume a lot more data than they really do. That whole unlimited thing I think is going by the wayside and they see the benefit of going to the shared.”
Really? Evidence please.
According to the Shammo Doctrine, an ever-increasing number of subscribers are listening to (Verizon’s) argument and are ending their “unlimited” data packages to take up shared data services across and for multiple devices. If that’s the case, Phineas T. Barnum has be proved right yet again.
The reality is that Verizon subscribers upgrading to any new handset (including the iPhone 5) automatically come off their old “unlimited” contract and data plan and have to sign-up to a “shared” data traffic. In other word’s it’s Hobson’s choice for the US consumer and more money for Verizon.
The US mobile market is supposed to be competitive and, sure enough, the few Verizon customers who ignore the blandishments of the company’s salesmen and are prepared to soldier on with aging handsets or pay top dollar for new ones will, for now, stay on their existing ‘unlimited’ data plans – the ones that throttle the life out of them if they exceed what, by present standards and expectations, are ludicrously small data limits.
Some AT&T customers also retain ‘unlimited’ data rights while Sprint continues to offer ‘unlimited’ data plans and T-Mobile has announced the imminent introduction of “truly unlimited data services” – whatever than means.
So, Verizon subscribers, you can expect to be receiving a call from an ecstatic evangelical salesperson very soon determined to convert an unbeliever to the right way of thinking. If you can’t understand what’s being said it’ll be because he or she will be speaking in tongues, and “VerizonSpeak “like their CFO. In those circumstances the best thing to do is to hang-up, sharpish.
By the way I urge you to take a peek at the photograph of Fran Shammo on the Verizon website. It looks like he was snapped just as he learned the word “buffoon” doesn’t mean the same as “balloon” with the double ‘l’ swapped out for a double ‘f’. Tricky things, words, aren’t they? Change a few letters in one and it means something else altogether. Remarkable!
We’re here at the Motorola event in New York, and I just got my hands on the Droid Razr M, the “little big secret” that Motorola’s been amping up for. As you’d expect for a phone of this size, it feels excellent in the hand, with a 4.3-inch qHD display. As I’ve said over and over again, this screen size is the sweet spot.
The most impressive thing about the Razr M is the way they managed to fit a relatively large display in such a small frame. Because of this, the M ends up having some of the thinnest bezels I’ve ever seen on a smartphone. In terms of viewing video, web pages, and gaming, this is pretty sweet. However, during normal use, even for just a few seconds, I found myself accidentally touching the screen and launching apps when I didn’t mean to.
For $99, this bothers me less, but I’d probably feel differently if I was a full-time owner of the device. Perhaps more interesting than any of this is that well-spec’d, 4.3-inch phones are now selling for mid-range prices.
Moving on: The Razr M was just as snappy as you’d expect, powered by that 1.5GHz dual-core processor. On the other hand, I’m seriously bummed about Motorola’s custom overlay. ICS runs like“butter,” ironically, but you can’t enjoy its aesthetic prowess with Moto’s skin laid over top.
The 8-megapixel rear-facing camera shoots 1080p video, which is fine, but it isn’t quick like lightning by any means. The shutter takes a hot second to capture the picture, but that may also be blamed on the relatively slow autofocus.
In other news, I love the design of this phone. I already mentioned it’s comfortable in the hand, and much of that has to do with its tapered design. The phone gets increasingly thinner towards the bottom. It sports the same Kevlar fiber casing as every other Razr, but the actual Kevlar fiber bit takes up a smaller part of the phone’s backside than it does on bigger, flatter Razrs.
All in all, this is an excellent device, especially at its price point. We’ll hit you with a full review ASAP, as we’re all getting a device today. You can, too, if you’d like, as pre-orders begin today.
THE rise of the smartphone has been a mixed blessing for operators of mobile networks. People have been pleasingly eager to buy smartphones and to clock up data charges by playing games, watching videos and dawdling on social networks, as well as to make calls and send text messages. Yet smartphones have also opened the door to disruptive newcomers. Suppliers of “over the top” (OTT, or “value added”) services have been pinching the network operators’ customers by offering messaging and voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP) calls via smartphone apps.
OTT services can take many forms, but voice and message apps have been the operators’ biggest headache. Rather than pay for an SMS message or a phone call, people may use Skype (bought by Microsoft last year), WhatsApp (brainchild of two alumni of Yahoo!), Rebtel (a Swedish start-up), Viber, Voxer or some other upstart to send messages and videos or make VOIP calls for nothing. They may still incur data charges but with Wi-Fi access may avoid even those. Ovum, a consultancy, has estimated that OTT messaging cost operators $13.9 billion, or 9% of message revenue, last year.
In a double-whammy for Verizon, the Federal Communications Commission announced today that the carrier must let its customers use third-party apps to turn their phones into mobile hotspots, and Verizon will also have to pay a $1.25 million fee to settle with the FCC over blocking the tethering apps so far.
Verizon Wireless charges customers $20 a month to use the mobile hotspot feature on their phone, which allows them to share Internet access with other devices.
AT&T's 2G wireless network will go dark at the beginning of 2017, the company confirmed today in an SEC filing spotted by the Wall Street Journal.
Only 12 percent of AT&T's contract customers are still using 2G phones, so clearly the company has an incentive to shut it down and repurpose that 2G spectrum for 3G and 4G networks. The vast majority of AT&T's customers are using 3G HSPA or HPSA+ networks, but in rural areas 2G GSM and EDGE networks are usually your life line for making calls.
It's pretty clear now that you can't have a modern smartphone operating system without powerful Siri-like voice commands. So it's not too surprising to see familiar-sounding voice commands in the latest update to RIM's BlackBerry 10 Developer Alpha release.
As N4BB's Lucas Atkins shows in the video below, the voice command feature sounds a lot like Apple's iconic virtual assistant. Though it becomes clear pretty quickly that RIM's solution needs a bit more schooling.
From a lack of carrier confidence to poor sales estimates, Nokia’s Lumia 900 sure has had a tough life since its April release.
And the struggles aren’t letting up. In a move that likely bodes poorly for the device, Nokia and AT&T have slashed the on-contract price of the Lumia 900 from $100 to a budget-friendly $50.
A fifty dollar price drop just three months into a life cycle is a big deal for any phone, but with the Lumia 900, it’s charged with far more meaning. After all, this is the device that was not only supposed to save Nokia, but also inject Windows Phone more extensively into the minds of consumers. A price cut, however, tells a different story: Nokia’s little Lumia 900 may not have long to live.
Here’s the thing, though: The Nokia Lumia 900 has been dead for a while — it just didn’t know it. The death stroke came last month when Microsoft made the disastrous announcement that Windows Phone 7 devices won’t be upgradable to Windows Phone 8. This made the Lumia 900 obsolete overnight, killing consumer interest in a device that not even its biggest cheerleaders were supporting. Hello, Osburne effect.
On the other hand, the price drop is also further push for the Lumia 900 as a mass market device. This was, after all, much of the reason the phone sold for $100 to begin with: Nokia wanted to keep it cheap, and it wanted consumers to notice.
But this may not be the type of attention Nokia actually wants. With the cut, Nokia’s golden child is now rubbing shoulders with other, less illustrious members of AT&T’s $49 smartphone tier like the Samsung Galaxy Exhilarate, the Impulse 4G, and the HTC Vivid. These are phones that are as ancient as they are irrelevant.
So the price cut can go one of two ways: Either it will boost sales by making the Lumia 900 more affordable for more consumers, or it will sink the whole ship by showing that niether Nokia nor Microsoft has any confidence in the Lumia 900 game plan.
The move may also suggest that Nokia (or, more likely AT&T) is trying to move inventory ahead of the launch of a Lumia 900 follow-up. It’s also possible that AT&T simply did not have room in its $100 smartphone category now that Motorola’s Atrix HD has hit the market.
But with only three days before Nokia’s second-quarter earnings, this eleventh hour move reeks too much of desperation to be that well thought out. Nokia and Microsoft may have a plan for the Lumia 900, but if the past is any indication, it won’t be a good one.
VentureBeat reached out to Nokia and AT&T to get a better sense of the reasons behind the price cut, and we’ll update this story when the companies respond.
Lumia 900 photo: Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat