November 7, 2019

Snippet: AT&T Price-Hikes Existing Customers for a “Bonus” ☍

Sean Hollister for The Verge:

AT&T has a gift for wireless subscribers on many of its old Mobile Share Value data plans: it’s giving them an extra 15GB of “bonus” data — and it’s making them pay an extra $10 a month for that “bonus.”

It’s almost like the company is forcing people to move to a more expensive plan, only AT&T figured out a way to make that not technically true. Instead, it’s worded in a way that suggests the company is providing you with a SURPRISE BENEFIT that costs you money! It is quite literally an offer you can’t refuse.

AT&T has done nonsense like this a few times in the past and it’s just slimy. They want to reduce their massive debt and are nickel and diming their way out of it. It also seems that it’s a way to pressure people into their unlimited plans, which have various caveats and limitations.

While voting with your wallet is always a great option, AT&T does have a very good network. If you are on one of the affected plans, but want to stick with AT&T, downgrade to a cheaper plan (since many have had increases in price and data allotments) or call 611, say you want to cancel, and see what the retentions department can offer.

November 1, 2019

Snippet: Google Buys Fitbit for $2.1 Billion ☍

Chaim Gartenberg for The Verge:

Google has just announced that it’s buying wearable company Fitbit for $2.1 billion. In a blog post announcing the news, Google SVP of devices and services Rick Osterloh said that the Fitbit purchase is “an opportunity to invest even more in Wear OS as well as introduce Made by Google wearable devices into the market.” […]

Under the deal, Fitbit will be joining Google itself. (It’s similar to the current situation with Nest, which is wholly under Google now, compared to when Alphabet had originally acquired the smart home company but left it as a separate division under the corporate structure.)

According to a separate press release issued by Fitbit, the company will still take privacy for heath and fitness data seriously, noting that “Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads.”

While the combination makes a lot of sense, I still don’t feel great about it. As Google, Facebook, and Amazon purchase smaller companies to integrate with their products, it’s harder to find things that don’t have a creepy feel to them. Fitbit health and wellness data may not be used for Google ads, but what kinds of data analysis could they still be used for?

I try to look at the industry as a whole, recognize my own bias, but increasingly it’s feeling like many options are Apple or giving up some level of privacy and I’m not sure how I feel about such limited choice.

October 30, 2019

News: Apple Reports Q4 Results

Apple announced financial results for its fiscal 2019 fourth quarter ending September 28, 2019. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $64 billion, an increase of 2 percent from the year-ago quarter, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $3.03, up 4 percent. International sales accounted for 60 percent of the quarter’s revenue…

October 17, 2019

Snippet: It Is Currently Impossible to Exchange Money for an iPhone ☍

Jason Koebler for Vice (via Nick Heer):

I think that buying a new phone is a shameful but occasionally necessary activity to continue living in the modern world. I disagree with most of Apple’s corporate philosophies on recycling, repair, and its walled-garden, monopolistic approach to the App Store. I do not like spending time in Apple Stores, nor do I like giving the company money, but I appreciate Apple’s commitment to privacy and security, and my current phone is more than three years old, has been repaired three times, and no longer takes photos or connects to WiFi. It is, unfortunately, Time for a New Phone.

The article makes it seem like Koebler would rather talk about how he’s not going to buy an iPhone as some sort of badge of honor. There’s almost this notion that some tech writers can only be against anything new. You don’t see writers who cover the automotive industry argue that while the new model of x is perfectly fine, they’re personally sticking with their 2002 Ford Focus to show everyone! But, back to the unavailable iPhones:

If you want to buy a new iPhone, there are two basic options: You can either become beholden to Apple for the next two years of your life by paying monthly installments of between $30 and $60, or you can give the company a bunch of money up front. […]

The problem is that, at the moment, it is nearly impossible to exchange US currency for an iPhone 11 Pro…

Koebler apparently forgets that most carriers offer financing and there’s plenty of places that do trade-ins (although his phone sounds like it’s on its last leg), so there are ways to get them without full price or Apple’s financing. While inventory is tight at times, they actually just don’t have the model he wants right now:

It is worth noting that you can buy the 64GB version of the iPhone 11 Pro at most stores, which is a version of the phone that shouldn’t exist because that is not enough storage.

I haven’t seen this argument very often, as it’s not like the days of the 16GB iPhones wearing out their welcome. For many people in 2019, 64GB will still feel cavernous, and they probably would be looking at the regular 11 anyway (the 128GB model is a good value proposition). At this point, my advice would be to order it, wait the week or two for the probably lower-volume model to ship, and try to enjoy it.

October 14, 2019

Snippet: Naming the ‘iPhone SE 2’ ☍

Stephen Hackett on the rumored new budget iPhone, using an iPhone 8 chassis:

If it really is $399, it would be $50 less expensive than the iPhone 8, but if it comes with the A13, it doesn’t make any sense that it would be below the iPhone 8 in the lineup.

I think it is safe to assume that this iPhone will replace the current iPhone 8, while also being cheaper. Without the iPhone 8 in the way, Apple won’t be stuck with “8” as the brand ceiling, forced into the “SE 2” corner.

One could look at all of this and assume the name would be the iPhone 8S, but I think 9 is a better choice.

Ever since the initial rumors, I’ve been wondering what this iPhone would be called and how it will be positioned. Like the original SE, it would have mostly better internal components than more expensive models, but many older user-facing components (the SE sold alongside the 6 and 6S, this would sell at least alongside the XR). Replacing the 8 would be a good move to simplify the lineup and maybe even drop the Plus option, further cleaning things up. While it would be weird to have an iPhone 9 introduced now, it does fit and would actually correct the lineup a bit.