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 delivered contradictory statements regarding the future of the 250MB for $15 iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G data plan to separate publications. Speaking with Chicago Now, AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said that users currently on the $30 a month unlimited iPad plan would be able to keep it, while users who haven’t signed up for it will be unable to, and will need to choose from the DataPlus plan, which offers 200MB for a $15 charge, or the 2GB for $25 DataPro plan, indicating that the current $15 plan will be discontinued for new users. Seth Bloom, also an AT&T spokesperson, chatted with TUAW, and said that “[t]he prepaid iPad $15 plan will not be affected at all by these changes,” adding that “[y]ou will continue to receive 250MB (not 200MB) after the changeover for the same $15 cost,” contradicting Siegel’s statement. iLounge has contacted AT&T about the issue and will update this story if and when we receive a response.
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.
Adobe has announced its new digital viewer technology for print publishers that allows them to create Apple-compliant versions of their magazines. Debuting with the iPad version of Wired Magazine, which is currently available from the App Store, the technology allows for the inclusion of video content, slide shows, 360-degree rotating images, vertical and horizontal content support, and touch gesture support. The new technology was developed “with input from” Wired, and was likely created in response to Apple’s decision to ban Flash and other cross-compiler solutions from the iPhone OS. The new digital viewer software is expected to appear on Adobe’s Labs service “soon.”
A number of leading PC motherboard manufacturers have released updated drivers that allow for iPad charging. Gigabyte, MSI, and ASUS have all released software updates that allow for iPad charging, as well as faster charging for iPhones and some iPod models, on recent motherboards. Engadget notes that although the software is designed for the respective manufacturers’ products, some users of other companies’ machines have reported that the software works with their models, as well.
Following a rash of suicides that has drawn widespread attention, Apple will soon begin paying direct subsidies to Foxconn employees involved with manufacturing the company’s products in an effort to improve employee happiness. Citing unnamed sources, Chinese-language Zol.com reports (Translated Link) that Apple already pays Foxconn 2.3% of final product prices, but will expand this by paying an additional amount, reportedly in the 1-2% range, directly to the employees, subsidizing their current $132 monthly salary. The report also claims that the subsidies will initially be paid to iPad product line employees; no mention is made of if or when the additional payments might be extended to employees involved in the manufacture of other products such as the iPhone and iPod. [via Engadget]
Following the initial international release of the iPad this past weekend, Apple has announced that it has sold over two million iPads—a milestone reached in “less than 60 days,” according to the company. “Customers around the world are experiencing the magic of iPad, and seem to be loving it as much as we do,” read a press release quoting Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “We appreciate their patience, and are working hard to build enough iPads for everyone.”
The release comes at a time when iPad sell-outs are common throughout the United States, which saw separate launches of the iPad with Wi-Fi and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G in April. While the iPad with Wi-Fi was widely available in Apple Stores following its debut, waiting lines developed at Apple Stores soon thereafter as demand began to exceed supply, and have continued in certain parts of the country for weeks. Apple Stores now take non-binding reservations for iPad hardware, and suggest ordering online for fastest fulfillment, which takes between one and two weeks from the date of order.
The rush of new iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G owners looking to activate their devices has brought down the activation server of Vodafone UK. Macworld UK reports that a Vodafone call center said “the server has now been down for a couple of hours” and that the company currently can’t activate any Micro SIM devices. Both Vodafone and Orange in the UK require iPad users to call in for activation, while O2 customers can activate their service from within the iPad itself, similar to how AT&T activation operates in the U.S. Vodafone has thus far been unable to offer an estimated time when its system might be back up and running.
Apple today officially launched the iPad in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. iPadevice has posted photos from the device’s launch in Italy, while SetteB.IT has posted a video from the Italian launch as well as photos from the Apple Store in Osaka, Japan. MacPlus has posted video from the Apple Store Louvre in Paris, France, and iFun.de has posted a picture from the device’s German launch. More information on international iPad pricing and data plans can be found in our Complete Guide to International iPad Pricing + Service Providers.
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.
A number of iPad customers who pre-ordered their devices have received their iPads early. TUAW reports that it has received tips from readers in Germany, Italy, and the UK that their iPads have already arrived; it is likely that some customers in other international launch countries may have already received their units, as well. Apple will officially launch the iPad in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK tomorrow, Friday, May 28.
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 signed an agreement with DSGi to sell the iPad in the U.K. at 139 Currys, PC World, and Dixons Travel outlet shops from launch, 60 days before rivals Comet, Tesco, John Lewis, and the Carphone Warehouse. The Times Online, citing an internal DSGi staff memo, reports that the iPad will go on sale at 9 a.m. local time Friday in 70 PC World stores, 28 Curry shops, 22 Dixons Travel outlets, and 19 combined PC World/Currys stores. The memo also said that “[d]emand is expected to be high, mirroring what happened in the US,” and added that a detailed list of which stores will be offering the tablet will be posted online this week. Apple began taking online iPad pre-orders, the initial allotment of which quickly sold out, on May 10 in the U.K., but otherwise only operates 27 of its own stores in the region, hence the need for a third-party retail launch partner in addition to the country’s Apple Premium Resellers.
According to a report from Italian language iPadevice (Translated Link), Apple has begun populating the iBookstores of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK ahead of next week’s iPad launch. According to the report, all of the currently listed books in Italy are from the free Project Gutenberg library, and while only one book—The Devine Comedy: Inferno—is available thus far in Italian, the total number of books on the store already tops 10,000, with placeholder pages set up for poetry, biographies and memoirs, philosophy, fiction and literature, and more. Apple will launch the iPad in the nine countries listed above on Friday, May 28.
Both models of the iPad remain sold out or in short supply across the U.S. heading into the device’s launch in nine countries next week. Citing a note from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, AppleInsider reports that out 50 Apple retail stores contacted, 74% were sold out of all models of iPad, with the iPad with Wi-Fi available at 24%, and no iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G units available at any of the stores. The report notes that the shortages have been ongoing since the iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G’s launch on April 30. In response, Apple retail stores have begun placing interested customers’ names on a waiting list, which then sees the store hold an iPad for up to 24 hours when their name comes up. According to the report, the wait for an iPad after being placed on one of these lists is typically 4-7 days, besting the 7-10 days quoted on Apple’s online store. Apple will launch the iPad in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK on Friday, May 28.
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 results of the latest ChangeWave survey, consumer demand for the iPad has risen since the device’s launch. According to the company’s May survey of 3,174 consumers, 7% of respondents said they were very likely to buy the iPad, while another 13% said they were somewhat likely. These numbers compare favorably to February’s pre-launch survey, which found 4% of respondents very likely to purchase and 9% somewhat likely to buy an iPad. Among the 245 respondents who said they own an eBook reader, 16% said they owned an iPad, which was second only to the 62% who said they owned an Amazon Kindle. The survey also iPad owners more likely to read newspapers and magazines on the device than owners of competing eBook readers, with 50% saying they read newspapers and 38% who read magazines on their iPads, compared with just 14% and 11%, respectively, for owners of other eBook readers.
Among the 153 iPad owners surveyed, a vast majority said they were satisfied with the device. 74% said they were very satisfied, followed by another 17% who said they were somewhat satisfied. One percent each said they were either somewhat or very unsatisfied, while 8% said they didn’t know. When asked what they liked best about their iPads, 21% of owners said the quality and size of the screen, followed by 15% who cited ease of use, 12% who liked the overall size and weight the best, and 10% who most liked the device’s portability. When asked to name dislikes, the iPad’s lack of Flash was tops with 11% of responses, followed by 9% each citing Internet connectivity issues and the need to constantly wipe the screen. Finally, when asked to pick the five things they use the iPad for the most, 83% of respondents said surfing the Internet, followed by 71% who said checking their email, and 56% who said they used apps from the App Store.