Posts Tagged iphone

Re: The Case Against Apple

So Jason Calacanis wrote a newsletter/blog post yesterday about how Apple is becoming big, bad, evil, etc. He had some questions at the end. I emailed him my thoughts, but they probably won’t get published that way. So here they are, in reworked form.

Preliminary Notes

Verizon doesn’t use SIM cards. Neither does Sprint. While I think it’d be awesome to see a dual-radio network-agnostic iPhone (like the Blackberry Storm and some new HTC units) I don’t foresee that happening. As for a dual CDMA radio setup that would “bond” two networks together for fast downloads, not gonna happen. The engineering and billing logistics just don’t work out. The best that’ll realistically happen is either an LTE iPhone (I doubt it’ll come out for WiMAX unfortunately) or *possibly* an iPhone “world phone” with CDMA and GSM/HSPA a la the Blackberry Storm if Verizon gets the new exclusive.

Now that that’s off my, and Mike Rundle’s, chest…

Q: Do you think Apple would be more, or less, successful if they adopted a more open strategy (i.e. allowing other MP3 players in iTunes)?

A: At worst, they’d be just as successful. They might be forced to compete a little more on features, especially on the Mac side (where there’s no Windows Media Player and thus no simple way to sync music with a non-iTunes-supported player). However the influx of people using third-party devices on iTunes would make up for any people who might pick a $30 other-brand MP3 player over Apple’s own. Not like those people would buy an iPod in the first place…

Read the rest of this entry »

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Running an iPhone on Five Star/West Central Wireless

For those of you who thought my next blog post would be a deep, insightful glance into the human psyche, shame on you. I’m a techie 99.9% of the time and an armchair philosopher only 0.1%. Since there are less than 1000 posts on this blog, you’ll have to take the former.

So I have an unlocked first-generation (EDGE only) iPhone. A few days ago I updated the firmware to 2.2.1 and used PwnageTool to jailbreak it. The unlock was made a few years ago via iPhoneSIMFree (I resold that software). I’ve used AT&T and T-Mobile SIMs in the phone at different points; AT&T has better coverage around here and allows data on prepaid. Though neither carrier is perfect with coverage (particularly T-Mobile) and data speeds are slow (70-80 kbps on AT&T EDGE)

The local wireless provider, Five Star Wireless, got bought out by another semi-local provider, West Central Wireless, a few years back. As a result, the formerly CDMA (and before that TDMA) carrier has now overlaid their CDMA network with GSM. Since West Central Wireless’s original markets were GSM, for increased coverage nobody can sign up for CDMA pans from Five Star anymore. Which is okay, I guess; though I personally prefer CDMA to GSM a SIM card is a beautiful thing, I still get Five Star’s freaking-awesome coverage footprint (they should call themselves Five Bar Wireless…that’s what my phone shows most of the time)…and GSM is what the iPhone runs on.

But how do you get the iPhone working, including data, on West Central/Five Star? Follow the directions below. Thanks to Alex N at West Central Wireless support for his help son this! (isn’t it awesome when a local carrier knows how to put unlocked iphones onto its own network?): Read the rest of this entry »

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Push E-mail…we need a better standard

I used MobiPush ( for push email to my HTC Mogul…until it went down…and stayed down. I’ve now found out about Z-Push, but it’s a server-install solution that seems rather ugly and just mght infringe on Microsoft’s software parents for ActiveSync, which it uses (wisely) to get email down onto your phone.

My submission: there needs to be an open-source standard for push e-mail, and everyone needs to get on board. A good one already somewhat available is IMAP-IDLE, however most devices don’t support it. The only other somewhat open standard (BlackBerry doesn’t count) is Microsoft ActiveSync Direct Push, what I was using. The problem there is it’s supposed to be proprietary.

No, I wouldn’t be writing this if my push email service hadn’t gone down a week and more ago, but still, there should be a push e-mail standard for “the little people”, one that can be , and will be, implemented across the board both on mail servers, on third-party services if need be, and on devices. I’m looking at you, Android and Palm WebOS: Microsoft, BlackBerry and to an extent Apple have their own irons in the fire but an easy, open push standard included with every device sold would absolutely make my day.

In the meanwhile though, I’ll see what I can do to make zPush work with at least GMail…

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Apple Schmapple, Black Friday Edition

I decided not to go to bed just yet…

…because of this and this.

First, if Apple is going to lift a commercial from the US that states something quantifiable (twice as fast [as the original iPhone]) on their iPhone 3G commercial, which is focused on speed, they had better quantify it better than “really fast”, especially when the only quantifiable thing in the ad is the (simulared) screenhot video of the phone…going much faster than it would in real life.

For all the fanboys out there, I know that, in theory, the phone could pull down a PDF file as fast as it did on the commercial over HSDPA. In reality, however, such speed would never happen on a consumer network. Surpise: Apple is selling the iPhones to consumers on a consumer 3G network, and the ad cites the iPhone’s 3G speeds. I’ll hand it to you, WiFi may be able to download at the speeds shown for Google Maps and the attachment download, but definitely not HSDPA. The reason? HSDPA (the iPhone doesn’t have HSUPA to my knowledge) has latencies in excess of 300 ms on average, so tack that on to anything you want to download. Think of it as halfway between low-end DSL and a high-quality satellite connection. Or what you get on your normal, non-super-3G cell phone.

Honestly, WiFi on the iphone isn’t much better than the practical limits of 3G. Assuming that you have a big enough pipe coming into your WiFi network, the iPhone tests out at only about 4.5 megabits per second…and this test was made via a special speedtest app on my Comcast connection, which bursts above 20 Mbps, sometimes above 30 Mbps. Certainly above 4.5 Mbps.

Random: is it just me, or did anyone else see an earlier version of this “twice as fast” commercial where the disembodied hand was downloading a QuickTime movie? It may have just been me, but if that ad was aired, let loose all the dogs of Truth In Advertising…there’s no way a phone could download a file that fast with current technology, even over WiFi.

Back to the 3G: web browsing involves rendering of the page. The only way for the iPhone to load and render like was seen on the ad? Cacheing. Possible, but not a showcase of the phone’s 3G abiity. Strike…three?

Enough with that rant…

My second point of contention: Google had to break Apple’s software development rules in order to create what’s arguably one of the most compelling apps available on the iphone right now. When you hear a hacker whining about this it’s one thing; when Google speaks, it’s quite anotherr. Hopefully Apple doesn’t go ballistic and shoo Google’s Mobile App out of the iTunes store for their infraction, but on the other hand Google did step outside Apple’s rather obsessive little box for developers (no background processes, no turn-by-turn directions, do crossing the yellow tape), and the company tends to be rather draconian when it comes to punishment for such things. But in all seriousness this would only hurt Apple’s cause, so they probably won’t do it; Google has its own mobile platform now, and the more Apple takes, the more Google will pay attention to Android.

Lastly, a potshot at Apple smugness: their Black Friday deals were unappealing. The smattering of discounts on hardware basically said “Yeah, it’s a sale day, whaddya gonna do about it?”, nothing more. Apple fanboys were doubtless pleased, but the discounts were in most cases less than what educational buyers get 24x7x365. Keep in mind that we’re talking about the biggest shopping, biggest discount, day of the year, where 42″ HDTVs are sold for well under $800, and retailers both online and on the ground slash prices by a few dozen percent to get stocks moving. But, if I may say so, typical Apple…I’m sure their products sold well enough anyway…

That is all. Good night and good luck.

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All AT&T, All The Time

I must say, AT&T has been active and\or in the news lately…

Starting off with the wireless division, we see the iPhone getting a few new laurels to rest on. It has snagged the top spot for most sold US wireless phone this quarter from the Motorola Razr, and also appears to be 2X the reliability of BlackBerries and nearly 3X the reliability of Treos. AT&T has also opened up free AT&T WiFi access to iPhone and other smartphone users. This is particularly cool since the company also bought up hotspot operator Wayport right around ten minutes ago.

Last but not least, 1.1 million customers and a lot of spectrum, towers and other such infrsatructure got traded for a cool $944 million in AT&T’s buyout of Centennial Communications, yet another regional GSM carrier to fall under AT&T’s sway.

UPDATE: Looks like AT&T will be allowing iPhone tethering…for $30 on top of your regular data plan. The transfer limit is 5 GB with this option, and if you’re thinking that the total data cost is equal to that of a dedicated modem, you’re abso-freaking-lutely correct. Ripoff? Yes, but I suspect people will bite. Though Sprint’s network is generally faster, and tethering is only $15 on top of a data plan, which is also $30 on top of a voice plan but also includes everything from navigation to text messaging.

Speaking of WiFi, you get that free with most AT&T DSL/U-Verse plans. Which may be capped. The monthly transfer caps are as follows:

$10-$20, 768K, 20GB (DSL only)
$25-$32, 1.5M, 40GB
$30-$36, 3M, 60GB
$35-$43, 6M, 80GB
$55, 10M, 150GB (U-Verse only)

The caps are a bit biased speed-wise toward the lower-end tiers, but of course cost-per-GB-wise toward the higher tiers. Overages will be $1 per GB. The caps are squarely between Time Warner Cable’s proposed 5-40 GB limits and Comcast’s 250 GB cap. What’s funny about this is that AT&T hs plenty of backbone infrastructure, especially with U-Verse, to allow everyone to download as much as they want. Of coursse, business-class users won’t see these caps, but users in the Reno, NV test market already are, or they’re being grandfathered in at 150GB per month. What’s unnerving is the result if you only qualify for a lower-speed DSL connection due to distance from the CO: low caps, high overages.

Speaking of U-Verse, AT&T has introduced an 18 Mbps tier (1.5 Mbps upload) for $10 more than the 10/1.5 Mbps one, or $65 per month, though people have reported that they’ve gotten better deals by calling AT&T to upgrade. The caveat: the U-Verse service has to share bandwidth with any TV that’s running, and the shared pipe is only 25 Mbit/s wide downstream and 2 Mbit/s upstream. This “profile” is due to the fact that VDSL (the tech upon which U-Verse is based) drops off quickly speed-wise as distance from the VRAD (fiber-fed DSL terminal) increases. The result: if you’re watching TV, you get 14-15 Mbps internet speeds instead of 18 Mbps, though TV quality doesn’t degrade while the internet is being used. No word on caps on this tier; let’s hope they’re to the tune of 250GB…competitors are sure to deploy DOCSIS 3 in response to this new U-Verse tier, and Comcast‘s caps are well above AT&T’s proposed ones.

Last but not least, AT&T is trying to create a video search engine (!?!) in partnership with a startup by the name of Divvio. Once can’t but think that this new service, dubbed Videocrawler, will be a nice tool for chewing up your gigabytes once caps are in place. Why I oughta…

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