Technologizer posts about iPhones

iPhone Reception Problems Got You Down? You Need More Network Capacity. Now!

By  |  Posted at 10:16 pm on Sunday, March 15, 2009

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AT&T LogoI’m having a very good time at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, where most everybody seems to be thoroughly enjoying themselves and the principal complaints seem to involve the weather (which finally cleared up this afternoon) and the quality of AT&T’s wireless service in and around the convention center.

The latter is an significant point, because there are legions of iPhone users here–I wouldn’t be startled if iPhones-per-capacita here are higher than anywhere on the planet, with the possible exception of whatever Zip Code Cupertino is in–and Twitter is as important a communications channel at the show as, well, you know, walking up to people and talking to them. The contrarian in me is not 100% empathetic with the folks here who have been traumatized by spotty service. 99.99999999999999999999999999999999999% of the humans who ever walked the earth managed to fare okay without working iPhones, and multiple issues remain more serious issues for mankind than spotty AT&T service (famine and brain cancer, to name but two). And I got the sense that moaning about AT&T had become trendy here. I saw one guy brandish his iPhone, jab at it with his forefinger, and say something unrepeatable about AT&T’s service. In an elevator.

Still, the fact remains that my own iPhone basically had no working wireless service inside the convention center yesterday afternoon. (I made do with my notebook and its EVDO card, which is on the Verizon network. It was fine.)

This morning, however, I tried my iPhone again, and data service worked, Actually, it worked great–it was snappier than it usually is back home in the Bay Area. I chalked it up to random good fortune–in general, I never know whether my iPhone is going to perform like a champ or fail to connect at all, and I’m never sure whether to blame Apple, AT&T, or both.

Tonight, however, I had a chance to talk with someone with knowledge of AT&T’s response to the SxSW Crisis of 2009. He told me that the company hadn’t anticipated that SxSW would be bursting at the seams with iPhones. (You’d hope that it was aware it’s sold a heck of a lot of iPhones since the last conference, but perhaps SxSW wasn’t on its corporate radar screen, or it didn’t realize that everyone would be Tweeting up such a storm.)

By 5pm yesterday, AT&T realized it had a problem on its hands, and it spent four hours doubling capacity in downtown Austin–something it was planning to do anyhow, but over the course of a few months, not a few hours. It did so not by rolling out portable cell towers (also known as Cells on Wheels, or by the wonderful acronym COW) but by borrowing capacity from other areas that didn’t need it as much–there’s only so much capacity to go around.

The person I spoke with said that the whole experience was a wake-up call for AT&T, and that it plans to monitor tech conferences and other gatherings that are likely to spur heavy use of 3G phones on its network from now on, and plan accordingly.

AT&T’s response didn’t turn every SxSW attendee into a happy camper–over at Cnet, Andrew Mager has blogged about folks who were still disgruntled as of Sunday. But as a guy who knows very little about the nuts and bolts of wireless phone service, it was news to me that a provider could do anything at all to improve the situation in a few hours. I look forward to the day when wireless capacity isn’t stretched thin anywhere. And I’m curious how my iPhone will fare in a couple of weeks when I visit the CTIA Wireless trade show in Las Vegas. It may have somewhat fewer ardent Twitter users than SxSw is seeing this year, but it’s surely be rife with heavy-duty phone users…



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A Consumer’s Guide to Apple Rumors

There are lies, damned lies...and Apple predictions. Part one in a series.

By  |  Posted at 2:43 am on Tuesday, February 10, 2009

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Apple RumorsThere are many unique things about Apple, Inc. And one of the oddest of all is the degree to which straightforward reporting about the company’s activities has been drowned out in recent years by a surging sea of rumor, speculation, prediction, and–increasingly—wishful thinking. Everybody, it seems, wants to spoil the surprise of Apple product launches by revealing the secrets which the company works so very hard to keep. But a remarkable percentage of the these soothsayers are just plain terrible at their chosen profession. They’ve become the Gang That Couldn’t Predict Straight.

As the quality of Apple scuttlebutt has nosedived, I’ve become more interested in the culture of Apple rumors than in most of the rumors themselves. With this article, I’m beginning a series on the Apple Rumor Game. And it makes sense to begin with a no-nonsense guide to judging those rumors as they crop up.

Continue reading this story…



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Wal-Mart to Sell the iPhone: Nothing to See Here

By  |  Posted at 10:32 am on Friday, December 26, 2008

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walmartiphoneIt’s felt all but official for weeks, but now it’s officially official: Wal-Mart will begin selling iPhones on Sunday. The one thing that was intriguing about the rumor version of this news was the theory that it would offer a 4GB version for $99. But as I suspected, the retailing behemoth will sell the same 8GB and 16GB models as everyone else. (At a tiny discount–the 8GB will be $197 and the $16GB will be $297.)

As of Sunday, iPhones will now available at Apple Stores, AT&T stores, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart. And I hope that this marks the end of it being worth of note when Apple lines up additional retailers. (It does feel inevitable that RadioShack will join the lineup eventually, given that it currently sells both iPods and phones.)



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