Following AT&T’s decision to introduce new “smartphone” plans that will impact iPhone and iPad 3G users, the company has been flooded with negative sentiments from angry customers. The company’s Facebook Wall is filled with comments ranging from well-mannered and sensible sentiments—“Just imagine the good PR you guys will get if you offer the tethering for free with the [DataPro] plan, it won’t change anything in your service since everybody will use the same data that [they are] already paying [for]”—to bolder and frequently brutal ones, such as “AT&T is showing their true colors… They really truly suck.” Many users, including iLounge readers, have focused about the abrupt change in iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G service terms after only a month on store shelves. “Bait and Switch,” says iLounge reader Liz. “They pumped the iPad 3G for months on the unlimited data plan with no contract and now they’re taking it away only what 2 months or less since the 3G launched? Screw AT&T I’d rather pay the big cash to another carrier and use MiFi instead.”
A quick search of Twitter for the hashtag “#attsucks” turns up numerous recent tweets, for obvious reasons all negative. “I’m sure of two things: as of 6/7 I’m giving $15 less to AT&T each month,” writes user davehiggins1. “As of 11/20 I’m giving $0 to AT&T each month.” Twitter user HelloTasmin writes, “Does it actually make it better that I pay slightly less for a service that becomes sh!*!ier every day?” It remains to be seen whether the backlash will force AT&T’s hand to remedy some of the newly-created issues; however, as iLounge reader Devo points out in a comment on our editorial on the matter, there is some precedent for iPhone-related customer outcry leading a carrier to change its policies.
“When Apple finally announced that Canadians [were] going to get their chance to get their hands on a (legitimate) iPhone, Rogers communications (our AT&T equivalent provider north of the border) announced some pretty lousy data plans,” Devo writes. “In fact, some of them had (have) ridiculously low caps. I think they started [at] 100MB! Canadian customers were so [put] off that Americans were being offered unlimited data that a petition was started to try and force Rogers to offer the same, an unlimited plan at a fair ($30) price. What we got was a limited time offer of 6GB for that $30, and yes I signed up for that. Then last summer, Rogers got wise and when Apple offered tethering on the iPhone, customers could use that service, free of any additional charge, and any data usage incurred would count towards that month’s allowed data. Now AT&T wants to make the same mistakes as Rogers, and hopes to get away with it? What are they thinking? Who in the world thinks it’s a good idea to offer worse service at a higher price, than was available to consumers in the past. They must think you’re all idiots.”
AT&T has announced that it is making several major changes to its data plan offerings, including those for the iPhone and iPad, as well as giving a concrete timeframe for its iPhone tethering launch. The single $30 unlimited iPhone data plan will be replaced by a pair of options: DataPlus, which offers 200MB of data for $15 per month, and DataPro, which provides 2GB of data for $25. Should a customer exceed their data limit, they will receive either an extra 200MB of data for $15 on DataPlus plans or an extra 1GB of data for $10 on DataPro plans. Similar changes will be made to the company’s iPad data offerings, with the $30 unlimited plan being replaced by the new $25 for 2GB a month plan. All of the data plans offer free access to more than 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots as well. Finally, AT&T will be offering iPhone tethering to customers on DataPro plans for an extra $20 per month; the feature will be available when iPhone OS 4.0 is released. Current customers are not required to switch to the new plans but can do so if they wish without extending their contracts; the plans will be available beginning June 7.
Earlier this evening, Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave an on-stage interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher to open this year’s D: All Things Digital Conference. Jobs touched on a number of subjects, ranging from the App Store approval process to the purchase and subsequent publication of details relating to the fourth-generation iPhone. Perhaps most notably, Jobs revealed that the basis for the iPhone OS originally started as a software project for a tablet, and was only re-focused on a phone once Jobs saw the initial user interface coming together. He later made an analogy between traditional PCs and trucks and tablet computers and cars, saying that he thinks PCs will be more like trucks, and over time, less people will need them.
Asked about his own open letter regarding Apple’s stance on Flash support for the iPhone OS platform, Jobs depicted the company as having fewer resources than some competitors, and explained that it tries to look for technology that is up and coming, instead of on its way out. He noted Apple’s history of both abandoning outgoing technology earlier than competitors, such as with the 3.5-inch floppy disc in the iMac and optical drives in the MacBook Air, and adopting new, upcoming technologies earlier than others, pointing to USB support in the first iMac. He described Flash as waning, and said he only wrote the letter after Adobe publicly complained about the lack of Flash support on the iPad.
A new report from Czech Republic-based SuperiPhone (Translated Link) claims to have confirmed the resolution of the fourth-generation iPhone’s display at 960 x 640. Using a microscope, the publication compared a display component supposedly meant for the fourth-generation iPhone to the displays of an iPhone 3GS, iPod touch, and Google Nexus One. Based on their results, the report claims that the display does have a resolution of 960 x 640, which results in a density of 320 ppi, and also uses the same IPS technology found in the iPad. John Gruber of Daring Fireball first suggested that the next iPhone would sport a 960 x 640 display in March, later explaining that the quadruple resolution—compared to existing iPhones and iPod touches—would allow current applications to be upscaled with little to no discernable difference in quality.
AT&T is preparing to offer insurance plans for iPhone users, with pricing set at $14 per month, according to a new report. The Boy Genius Report has posted photos showing internal AT&T documents outlining the new service, which will be called MobileProtect and will be activated by downloading an app from the App Store. According to the report, the plan will be run by Asurion, with monthly charges billed through the app to the user’s iTunes account. In addition to the monthly charge, the plan will also include deductibles ranging from $99 for an 8GB iPhone 3G to $199 for a 32GB iPhone 3GS, and must be activated within 30 days of upgrading or purchasing a new iPhone.
An AT&T executive recently claimed that four out of every 10 iPhones the company sells go to enterprise users, according to a ZDNet report. Speaking at the Barclays Capital Communications, Media and Technology conference, Ron Spears, CEO of AT&T’s Business Solutions unit made several comments regarding the iPhone, including its transition to an enterprise-ready device. “Four out of 10 sales of the iPhone are made to enterprise users,” Spears explained. “When the iPhone came out, what most people heard in the first year from ‘07 to ‘08 was oh my God, it’s not BlackBerry secure. This is not going to work on the enterprise space… by the time the 3G came out in ‘08 they had solved about 80% of the security issues.” Spears also provided a glimpse into how AT&T itself uses the iPhone for company business. “Most of our monthly reporting is all built into an app that gets updated when our systems get updated, and we do an automatic fetch,” he said. “And any time I want to look at where we sort of sit from a financial point of view in ABS, it now resides on my iPhone as an app. So it starts to change the way you think about governing your business. It changes the speed with which you can make decisions.”
NBC and Time Warner have told Apple that they won’t be converting their online videos to the iPhone- and iPad-friendly H.264 format, according to a New York Post report. Citing unnamed sources, the report claims that Time Warner, NBC Universal, and several other large media companies have said they will not convert their video libraries over to a non-Flash format, citing expense and the fact that most other devices support Adobe’s software. The report also claims that the media companies feel they are in a better negotiating position following the announcement of Google TV, and the expected launch of Flash-compatible tablets from companies such as Dell and HP. Notably, CNN, which is owned by Time Warner, has reformatted its online videos to be iPhone- and iPad-compatible, and is listed on Apple’s page of “iPad ready” websites, alongside fellow Time Warner property Sports Illustrated.
The number of devices in the United States running Google’s Android operating system is closing in on the number of iPhones in the country, according to AdMob’s April 2010 Mobile Metrics Report (PDF LInk). As of April, AdMob saw requests from 10.7 million unique iPhones, compared to 8.7 million Android devices. When the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are taken together, they amount to 18.3 million devices. The situation is not the same worldwide, however. Globally, AdMob saw requests from 11.6 million unique Android devices, compared to 27.4 million iPhones. Again, when the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are taken together, this number is much higher—40.8 million globally. Overall, only 44% of iPhone OS requests are from the U.S, compared to 75% for Android. AdMob’s metrics are based on its advertising network of more than 23,000 mobile websites and applications around the world.
Apple has said in a statement that it is “saddened and upset” by the recent suicides at manufacturing partner Foxconn. Reuters reports that Apple’s comments come as Foxconn and its parent company Hon Hai are launching a PR campaign to counter growing concerns about the company’s handling of its employees. “We are saddened and upset by the recent suicides at Foxconn,” Apple said in a statement. “We are in direct contact with Foxconn senior management and we believe they are taking this matter very seriously. A team from Apple is independently evaluating the steps they are taking to address these tragic events and we will continue our ongoing inspections of the facilities where our products are made.”
Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou has also spoken out about his concern over the ongoing employee suicides, with nine so far this year. “I’m very concerned about this. I can’t sleep every night,” said Gou. “From a scientific point of view, I’m not confident we can stop every case. But, as a responsible employer, we have to take up the responsibility of preventing as many as we can.” Foxconn is an Apple manufacturing partner on the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Mac product lines.
Apple has tapped Academy Award-winner Sam Mendes to direct its TV advertisements for the next-generation iPhone. Citing a trusted source as well as a pair of Twitter updates, Engadget reports that Mendes, who won the Oscar for Best Director in 2000 for American Beauty, will direct the new commercials, at least one of which will feature a mother and daughter having a video chat conversation using the new front-facing camera. Auditions for the commercials are being held in New York and California, according to the report; Apple CEO Steve Jobs is expected to announce the next-generation iPhone on June 7 during his keynote address at the company’s WWDC event.
AT&T will bring its first-ever free outdoor Wi-Fi hot spot online today in New York City’s Times Square, in an effort to battle the network traffic congestion caused by smartphone, and most prominently iPhone, users. The Wall Street Journal reports that pedestrians using AT&T smartphones will be able to connect over Wi-Fi at no charge when in range of the hot spot, which is located new 7th Ave. between 45th and 47th Streets. “It’s a very large data off-load in a venue where traditionally data would go over our old voice and data network,” Mike Maus, who oversees AT&T’s New York network, told the WSJ. AT&T also said it may expand the trial to up to three other U.S. cities; although it declined to say where, San Francisco would be a likely choice, given the company’s past congestion problems in the area.
Walmart has announced that it is now offering the 16GB iPhone 3GS for $97. Like all past iPhones, these discounted iPhone 3GS units are new and require a two-year contract with AT&T. With Apple CEO Steve Jobs expected to unveil the next-generation iPhone during his June 7 WWDC keynote address, it is possible that the price drops are a precursor to Apple discontinuing the 8GB iPhone 3G, which is currently sold for roughly $100, and replacing it with the 16GB iPhone 3GS, while the new models fill in the traditional $199 and $299 price points. Notably, neither Apple nor AT&T has yet to drop their prices on 16GB iPhone 3GS models.
Another next-generation iPhone prototype has appeared online, this time sporting a white faceplate. Engadget, citing Chinese site Apple.pro, reports that the faceplate of the prototype does not appear to have been snapped in all the way, hovering some distance above the white Home button and metal sides, but otherwise appears to be legitimate, appearing the photo next to a black prototype similar to the one obtained and photographed by Gizmodo. Several supposed white next-generation iPhone faceplates had previously appeared online, but this is the first time one has been pictured attached to a full prototype unit, lending credence to the idea that Apple may be planning to announce both white and black models of its next-generation iPhone, with the white model becoming the first iPhone OS device to feature a non-black front.
Over 700,000 iPhones have been sold in South Korea since the device went on sale last November, according to a Korea Herald report. An average of 4,000 per day have been sold since the launch, notes KT, the iPhone’s exclusive carrier in South Korea. It took the handset 27 days to go from 500,000 to 600,000 subscribers but only 25 days to add another 100,000, indicating that sales of the iPhone in Korea are accelerating despite delayed purchases from some consumers waiting for the arrival of a new model this summer. Finally, the report states that the number of Korea-developed iPhone apps is approaching 6,000, from roughly 600 registered developers.
AT&T is planning to raise its early termination fees for smartphones and netbooks from $175 to $325, Dow Jones reports, noting that the move comes amid rumors that AT&T may lose its iPhone exclusivity over the next year. Thankfully for current AT&T iPhone customers, the rate changes will not affect current contracts; instead, they will apply to all new and renewing customers beginning June 1. Notably, the higher cancellation fees will apply to any new iPhone customers who purchase the next-generation model expected to be announced at Apple’s 2010 WWDC conference in early June. While the termination fees for smartphones will rise, the same fees will actually drop by $25 for feature or messaging phone contracts. Earlier this week, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega made several comments relating to the possibility of AT&T customers leaving when the company’s iPhone exclusivity ends, noting that 70% of customers are on family plans, which can be a pain to move over to a new carrier, and 40% are on corporate discount plans.
A number of designers are being asked by their clients to ensure that their websites are iPhone- and iPad-compatible, forcing them to abandon Flash for development use in those cases, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Since the iPad came out we’ve had a lot of clients say that they just don’t want Flash on their sites,” said Chantelle Simoes, vice president at CA-based Ninth Degree Inc., which has built websites for Sanyo and NASA. She added that should the trend continue, the 10-person firm will need to hire workers experienced in iPhone development. The report cites several other cases in which designers and companies have needed to look beyond Flash to reach iPhone and iPad users, including Sports Illustrated, which recently launched a new web app built on HTML5 technologies. “We’re going forward on more than one front,” said Terry McDonnell, editor of Sports Illustrated Group. “The last thing that we want to do is make some decision that we’re not sure about.” Cruise line company Carnival launched a new, Flash-free home page last year due to the iPhone, and is unlikely to continue using Adobe’s tech on other projects due to Apple’s stance. “The iPhone and iPad have made us take a look at alternatives” to publishing in Flash, said Jordan Corredera, director and general manager of Carnival’s online business.
According to the latest numbers released by research firm Gartner, Apple was the seventh-largest cell phone manufacturer in the world by units sold in Q1 2010. Apple held 2.7% share of the worldwide cell phone market in Q1, trailing market leader Nokia, Samsung, LG, BlackBerry-maker RIM, Sony Ericsson, and Motorola. In the worldwide smartphone market segment, Apple held down third place in Q1 based on unit sales by operating system, thanks to gains that gave it a 15.4% share of the market, trailing only Symbian, which lost share year-over-year but still finished with a market-leading 44.3% share, and RIM, which also lost market share year-over-year, finishing with 19.4% market share. These numbers are comparable to similar data released by research firm IDC earlier this month. Directly behind Apple was Android OS, which jumped from 1.6% of sales in Q1 2009 to 9.6% in Q1 2010, displacing Windows Mobile from the fourth spot in the process.
Apple has released the fourth beta version of iPhone OS 4 for the iPhone and iPod touch, along with the accompanying SDK. As with prior beta releases, a main Xcode and SDK beta is available for download, as are pre-release builds of the iPhone OS 4 software for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, and the second- and third-generation iPod touch. Mac Rumors notes that the new beta version includes a new configuration page for Internet Tethering, and a special alert for AT&T customers telling them to call AT&T at 611 or visit AT&T’s website to enable tethering on their account, suggesting AT&T may be planning to offer the long-awaited feature with the arrival of iPhone OS 4. Both the new SDK and pre-release builds are available now for download by registered iPhone developers from the iPhone Dev Center.
A Nike+iPod compatible heart rate monitor is expected to launch June 1, according to a posting on the Nike+ support forums. A “Nike+ Pro” member claimed, in response to a question regarding a menu item for the Heart Rate Monitor on an iPod, that the device will launch in the U.S. on June 1, “although it may reach some retail outlets slightly sooner.” The post goes on to say that the monitor will reach Canadian markets later in June and will launch internationally this summer. In addition, the poster, who signed the message “Clover,” also said that he/she was “not able to discuss price, color, device compatibility, and other details at this point.” Evidence of such a device was found within a new Nike + iPod User Guide that was posted to Apple’s site last September, but no mention has been made of it since. [via AppleInsider]
Apple has replaced its prior “This accessory is not made to work with iPhone” prompt with a slightly more descriptive alert in the latest beta version of iPhone OS 4 for the iPhone and iPod touch. The prior prompt asked users if they would like to turn on Airplane Mode to reduce audio interference, noting that they wouldn’t be able to make or receive calls and giving them yes or no options at the bottom. In contrast, the new alert in OS 4 says “This accessory is not optimized for this iPhone,” noting that “[y]ou may experience noise caused by cellular interference and a decrease in cellular signal strength,” with no mention of Airplane Mode and a single “Dismiss” button at the bottom.