Tag Archives | AT&T

Nearly One in Ten Teens Now Own iPhones

Fortune reports Wednesday that finanical analyst firm Piper Jaffray has just completed its twice annual survey of teens and found the iPhone ranks high on their wish lists, with already a significant adoption rate in the device’s 14 or so months on the market here in the US.

The survey of 769 high school students found that 8 percent already own the device, with another 22 percent expecting to purchase the phone within the next six months.

Such data has to be music to AT&T’s ears, considering the carrier is the exclusive partner for Apple here in the US. Piper Jaffray did not ask which carriers the teens were using, so it’s a little difficult to judge how this would affect AT&T’s subscriber numbers, although I’d guess they would get a modest bump in the least.

But like everything else we’ve talked about lately, teen’s wants and desires may not necessarily match up with what their parents can afford. With the economy the way it is, its also quite possible many of those who want the device may not have the means to obtain it, at least in the short term.

In addition to the data on iPhones, Piper Jaffray also found that 84 percent of teens owned an iPod, up 2 percent from last year. And of the four in ten who download music leagally, 93 percent were using iTunes, up significantly from the last survey.

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Apple iPhone Antitrust Suit Allowed to Proceed

AT&T’s stranglehold on the iPhone here in the US may be coming to an end, as a California federal court has allowed an antitrust suit against the carrier and Apple to proceed. In an order handed down October 1, the US District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that there was sufficient material to continue the case.

Nine iPhone owners (who, by the way, are AT&T customers) from California, Washington, and New York make are the plaintiffs, and accused Apple and AT&T of ten separate breaches of federal law.

The ruling seems to be pretty much a clear win for the plaintiffs. Judge James Ware denied AT&T’s motions to compel arbitration, stay discovery, and dismiss, while also essentially denying Apple’s similar motion to dismiss. Apple and AT&T will have until October 15 to file any amended complaint.

Still on the table in the case are a litany of charges against the two companies, including several Sherman Antitrust Act claims, Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act claims, and computer fraud and computer tresspass claims. One bright spot: Apple has gotten the courts to throw out the unfair and deceptive trade practices claims.

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Apple Easily Surpasses 10 Million iPhone Goal

When Apple first made its lofty projections to sell 10 million iPhones during 2008, some thought the company’s projections were overly optimistic. That may not be the case anymore if research by Apple enthusiast site Mac Observer is to be believed.

The data compiled by the site’s “Apple Finance Board” have taken a look at the IMEI numbers of shipped iPhone 3Gs as a way to estimate the total number of iPhone 3Gs shipped and compiled them into a spreadsheet. IMEI’s are issued in an specific order and can be used to figure out how many phones have been produced.

As to how this works, I’ll let the report’s author explain it.

One 6 digit number, known as the TAC, or Type Allocation Code, signifies a particular build or set of iPhones being manufactured. The second 6 digit number is unique to each individual iPhone produced in that particular series—so that 1 million iPhones can be registered to a specific TAC.

Using this data, the Mac Observer team estimates that Apple may have sold as many as 9.2 million iPhone 3Gs: a staggering statistic. Even allowing for 1.5 million iPhone 3G’s to still sit unsold, some 7.6 million units would already be in consumer’s hands. This would mean Apple would have sold 10 million phones already when adding in first-generation iPhone sales.

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An Unlocked iPhone? I’d Travel Halfway Around the World for One

“iPhone 3G puchased at the Apple Online Store can be activated with any wireless carrier. Simply insert the SIM from your current phone into iPhone 3G and connect to iTunes 8 to complete activation.”

It’s been slightly melodramatic to say that reading those words left me giddy. I hate phone contracts and phones locked to a particular carrier–hate ’em, hate ’em, hate ’em, on both practical grounds and principle–and would much rather pay full price for a phone then get locked into a contract. If unlocked iPhone 3Gs had been available when I bought mine back on day one, I’d never have committed to a contract to get a price break. (Were I a civilian, I might not have bought an iPhone 3G at all until contract-free ones became available–AT&T is supposedly going to offer them at some point–but it’s impossible to write about personal technology today without one.)

The good news is that the unlocked iPhone is here. The bad news? It’s only really here if “here” is Hong Kong. The text I quoted above comes from the Hong Kong version of Apple’s online store, where locals can now buy the unlocked, contract-free version of the phone.

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iPhones at Best Buy? Cool! Probably!

[Update on the post below: MacNN says it’s confirmed that Best Buy will start selling the iPhone in early September.)

AppleInsider is reporting that Best Buy may be about to announce that it will begin selling iPhones. I have no idea whether that’s true, but it’s certainly plausible enough: It’s safe to assume that the phone will eventually be available at venues other than Apple Stores and AT&T shops, and Best Buy is both the nation’s 800-pound gorilla of electronics retailing and one of the few places other than Apple Stores to stock a relatively generous selection of Apple products.

If the rumor pans out, it’s good news on a number of fronts. More choices when it comes to buying stuff are always better than fewer (even if the increased competition doesn’t result in the iPhone being available for less than $199, which I suspect it won’t). The more iPhones that are sold, the likely it is that software develpers and accessory manufacturers will jump on the bandwagon; that would be a boon to everyone who’s bought an iPhone anywhere.

And if the iPhone ends up sitting on a counter alongside other phones from multiple manufacturers and carriers, I think it’ll prompt Apple’s competitors to move even more quickly than they have been to try and match or exceed everything that’s good about the iPhone–its industrial design, its screen and interface, its media features, and, most of all, the fact that it’s a full-bodied software platform. For that reason, I hope that the iPhone lives in Best Buy’s phone section, rather than off with other Apple products.

(When CompUSA was a national chain with an “Apple shop” tucked in the corner of the showroom floor, Macs and other Apple products were segregated from more mass-market rivals. It’s quite possible that Apple insisted on this approach, but every CompUSA Apple shop I ever saw was a ghost town; I would have much rather have seen MacBooks and iMacs alongside machines from HP, Gateway, and Sony, where people who didn’t think they wanted a Mac might have discovered them.)

With the iPhone 3G’s current Apple-and-AT&T-only retail availability, the phone gets tender loving care unlike that of just about any consumer product I can think of. The Apple Store folks are able to devote huge resources to marketing and explaining the thing, which is obviously part of why it remains a phenomenon a month after it went on sale. (Just this last weekend, I saw a line of buyers snaking out of the Apple Store in the Fashion Show Mall on the Las Vegas Strip.) And while it’s far from the only phone at AT&T stores, it’s clearly the only superstar there, and receives a lot of TLC: When I walk into an AT&T shop, I’ve sometimes had a greeter suggest I look at iPhones the moment I cross the threshold.

My impulse was to be worried that Best Buy, or just about anyone other than Apple and AT&T, might struggle with the iPhone simply because mass-market retailers are usually so very bad at giving their customers actual authoritative advice about the products they hawk. That’s been an issue with other Apple products in the past, and was presumably a major reason why Apple made the surprising (and amazingly successful) decision to open its own stores. And while Best Buy apparently staffs at least some of its stores with dedicated Apple experts, the ones I’ve happened to visit have had Apple sections that looked like smaller, tidier versions of the ghost towns I remember from CompUSA.

But as I think about it, I’m not sure if the iPhone needs that much explaining. It’s more of an iPod than a Mac–a product that’s extraordinarily well-known, with benefits that are pretty easy to get without much explanation. The $199 price is competitive, too–there shouldn’t be any equivalent to scenarios in which someone looks at a $1100 MacBook and a $600 HP notebook and can’t grasp why the MacBook might be worth the dough.

So I’m hoping that Best Buy is indeed about to roll out the iPhone. But here’s what would please me even more: Amazon.com selling the iPhone. I can’t believe that the requirement that the phone be activated will keep it off the Web forever, and I don’t think anyone (aside from Apple) would do a better job of selling it on the Web.

On the other hand, this post at Ars Technica’s Infinite Loop mentions the possibility of RadioShack selling iPhones. I find that kind of horrifying, although I can’t quite articulate just why. Maybe it’s because I’ve so rarely encountered a RadioShack clerk whose customer-service skills go much beyond telling me where the AAA batteries are. Or perhaps it’s because I’ve been into computers for so long that when I think of Apple and RadioShack, I think of the wars between Apple II and TRS-80 owners, of which I remain a bloodied, battered veteran who’s prone to the occasional painful flashback…

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In Australia, the iPhone 3G Isn’t “Twice as Fast.”

Two things are pretty much undeniable about Apple ads:

1) When discussing technical specifications, the company likes to make bold claims, and…

2) It doesn’t like to use footnotes, qualifiers, or disclaimers to get around the fact that virtually no claim you can make about a technology product is equally true in all circumstances.

That’s how you get a commercial like this iPhone spot (titled “Unslow”), which shows someone zipping around the Web on an iPhone more quickly than I’ve ever been able to in real life, and which ends with the tagline: “The new iPhone 3G: The Internet–you guessed it–twice as fast.”

If I’d tried to recreate that 30-second ad with my iPhone 3G during my trip to Las Vegas this weekend, it might have been a three-minute ad…even though I was on 3G at the time. on

A bit of type at the end of the ad does say that 3G isn’t available in all areas. But an iPhone 3G ad that aimed to set consumers’ expectations realistically would have pointed out that there are entire states–ten of ’em–in which the iPhone 3G can’t get on a 3G network, and that even when you’re on a 3G network, it doesn’t guarantee that your experience will be “twice as fast.”

(You also gotta wonder how they filmed that ad: Is that really the AT&T network in action? Did they do multiple retakes and choose the fastest one? When they shot the ad, did they choose a studio which they knew to have superb AT&T 3G coverage? In what percentage of instances across the country will the New York Times load as quickly as it did in that ad?)

Apple’s whole “Twice as fast” iPhone 3G mantra (also prominent on its home page as I write this) seems incredibly dangerous for Apple: Since it’s not true when stated that definitively, it sets up consumers who don’t know a lot about 3G service for disappointment. Simply put, it’s selling people on something very specific which the iPhone 3G–as wonderful as it is in most respects that matter–doesn’t deliver.

While poking around YouTube looking for the above commercial, I first found the version that airs in Australia. For the most part, the Australian “Unslow” is a faithful remake of the U.S. edition. But there is one crucial difference, other than the cool Aussie voiceover:

Yup–in Australia, the iPhone 3G is merely “really fast.” And Apple’s home page for Australia doesn’t use the “Twice as fast. Half the price” tagline at all:

In fact, I see that the Apple sites for the UK, France, Italy, and our neighbor to the north don’t use the “Twice as fast” claim either.

I don’t know for sure why this is. Maybe the math of Apple’s EDGE-vs-3G comparison for AT&T’s network doesn’t hold up even in a theoretically perfect scenario in other countries. (I can see why Apple wouldn’t want to use a slogan like “1.87 Times as Fast. .624 the Price.”) Perhaps Apple’s ad agencies in other countries are more cautious. Laws about what you can and can’t claim in an ad may vary.

Back in the U.S., Apple could have made its claim about the iPhone 3G’s speed entirely defensible if it had said something along the lines of “Up to twice as fast.” It chose not to. Like I said, this is a company that just doesn’t like footnotes, qualifiers, or disclaimers…even when they’d turn a claim from questionable to accurate.

Oddly enough, there’s another type of Apple ad, equally common, that avoids all these issues: The ones that are purely based on an emotional appeal, such as all those iPod ads that do absolutely nothing except show people enjoying music. Betcha you could make an iPhone commercial that was similar in spirit to those ones–and it might even sell just as many phones as “Unslow” will.

UPDATE: Jason Fried, who mused about “Unslow” before I did, pointed me to this video in which someone tried to recreate the ad on AT&T’s 3G network in Boston. The results are…well, unfast:

FURTHER FURTHER UPDATE: Close examination of the high-res versions of the U.S. and Australian editions of “Unslow” reveal a very similar, remarkably steady hand. If that is the same hand model in both spots–and I’m not saying it is–were the ads actually shot in the U.S. and Australia, using the cell networks the iPhone 3G is available on in those countries? Conspiracy theorists, elaborate!

FURTHER UPDATE: On Apple’s site, it accompanies the online version of “Unslow” with a disclaimer: “Based on 3G and EDGE testing. Actual speeds vary by site conditions. Based on iPhone 3G (8GB) and first-generation iPhone (8GB) purchases. Requires new 2-year AT&T rate plan, sold separately.” Not very Apple-ish, but shouldn’t it be in the commercial itself?

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