Well it’s not the Verizon iphone announcement people have been waiting for, but today Apple and Verizon did say that a WiFi only version of the ipad would start selling on Verizon before the end of the month.
The 3G version of ipad is still under an exclusive agreement with AT&T prohibiting sale of it on other carriers so Verizon and Apple have crafted a deal to get around that problem. A WiFi only ipad combined with Verizon’s MiFi 2200 hot spot device will give the WiFi ipad 3G connectivity on Verizon … plus up to 4 other user devices can also share the hot spot.
Bundled packages for a WiFi ipad plus MiFi modem will retail on Verizon for:
- 16GB ipad + MiFi: $629.99
- 32GB ipad + MiFi: $729.99
- 64GB ipad + MiFi: $829.99
Verizon is packaging the MiFi with a 1GB monthly plan for $20 which sandwiches itself between the two plans AT&T offers 3G ipad users. A 200MB plan for $15 and a 2GB plan for $25.
The Verizon bundle means you have two things to carry around instead of just one … but the hot spot thingy is only about the size of a pack of cigarettes and by offering connectivity to the user’s other Wifi gear from 30 to 40 feet away, that may make it a good trade off.
Batteries are another consideration …. two packs instead of one. Tests have indicated that a battery powered WiFi ipad running on a 3G modem can stay connected for up to 8 hours on one charge where as the MiFi modem supporting 4 connections can only stay online for about 90 minutes on a charge.
There has been a flurry of announcements lately from other manufacturers bringing out their versions of a tablet pc. Which one is the best tablet pc? Can anyone knock Apple’s ipad off its pedestal? Stay tuned. The market will have to sort these things out over time.
The Nokia C7 is the second Nokia product to be based on its new Symbian 3 OS software platform. It’s thin super sleek stainless steel and glass packaging is designed for social networking types and incorporates a 3.5 inch (640×360 pixel) touch screen, and it can update facebook and twitter feeds directly on screen.
It also has HD 720p video TV playback, GPS, and HTML email support. Ovi Mail, Yahoo Mail, and Hotmail account holders have one touch access. A micro USB connector with charging, and Bluetooth 3 is also part of the well thought out package that offers a lot of the features of its more aptly equipped N8 brother which sells for about $125 more. App downloads are available through the Ovi store.
It utilizes popular audio codecs like MP3, WMA, and AAC amongst others.
To round out the techie stuff, you can listen to the built in stereo FM radio for a long time with a 1200mAh Li-Ion battery backing everything up … and oh yes you get 8Gb of memory built in, with up to 32Gb available through micro SD cards. The C7 comes in two versions that can run either on GSM or CDMA based networks.
Nokia’s latest smartphone also packs a 8 megapixel camera. The HSDPA Cat9 wireless connection standard the Nokia C7 uses maxes out at 10.2 Mbps.
Nokia isn’t the world’s largest wireless phone manufacturer for nothing … and the C7 packs quite a techie wallop for the price. What about the price you ask? It retails for about $450 U.S. but can probably be bought for less through certain carriers and other rebate schemes.
You can find a nice little app here that will download videos from Youtube and other video sharing providers.
For the first time a study has attached a dollar figure to what obese workers cost industry in terms of lost productivity, medical costs, and absenteeism on an annual basis.
The analysis done by Duke-National University of Singapore has estimated the cost at a staggering $74 billion … or enough money to hire another 1.8 million workers a year based on the average industrial wage of $42,000 paid in the U.S.
Their calculations concluded that the average per capita cost for a man with a BMI over 40 was $15,500 per year, and for a woman with the same BMI almost $17,000. A person of normal weight costs the employer about $10,000.
The study also made one very important observation and that is that the loss in employee productivity actually exceeds the employer’s health care costs.
It has not been known till now exactly how much obese related health problems were affecting the workplace. The study also made no mention about how much the obese public sector worker was costing the taxpayer … but with an average salary now much higher than private industry, the per capita costs for them must also be higher than these.
The study suggested that with these high costs now identified that employers might want to consider the benefits of getting their employees involved in weight management and other wellness type programs.
If you are an overweight employee and want to impress your employer with your leadership skills and ability to take control of the situation, then you may want to take a look at this weight management program and find out how it can help you.
Customers of Verizon Wireless have complained to the company since 2007 about being charged $1.99 to access the internet, even though they were not on a data plan. Some phones would inadvertently activate their browsers and connect to the internet. Customers seeing this happen were still billed $1.99 even when immediately disconnecting. Normally $1.99 buys a megabyte of bandwidth.
Customer complaints to Verizon about this problem went un-resolved until the F.C.C. started an investigation … and today Verizon said that after reviewing their records, some 15 million customers will be getting a refund of some sort.
On October and November bills, existing customers who were affected will receive a credit of between $2 – $6. Customers who are no longer with Verizon will be sent checks. The total refund could be as much as $90 million.
The refund is quite likely the largest payout any telecom company has been forced to make. Previously Verizon had always denied they were billing customers for accidental short term data connections.
The F.C.C. began reviewing Verizon customer complaints in January 2010 and now will likely apply a penalty to the company in addition to the refund, because of taking so long to notify their customers about the problem.
Verizon blamed a software glitch in the phones for causing customers to make the unwanted data connections.
At the recent Devcon conference in San Francisco RIM executives showed off the company’s new tablet computer called Playbook.
Although the device is not in production yet and they had no actual hardware for people to play with, the thing most interesting was the new QNX OS that will run Playbook.
The Canadian company that makes the QNX OS is pretty much unknown but the fact that RIM recently bought the company and now is using its OS for its tablet computer raised a few techie eyeballs.
RIM executives have now confirmed that the QNX OS will also be slowly migrated over to the smartphone platform in the next couple of generations and replace the Blackberry OS. This may be a very important step in getting RIM back in the smartphone game as they’ve been losing market share to Iphone and Android devices.
Initially all the buzz was how would the new Playbook stack up against the Ipad and the potpourri of other competitors pursuing it?
Others now have had a chance to look at what RIM is doing and think they may be onto something. They are not positioning Playbook as a direct competitor to Ipad but instead of an enterprise tool for serious users that already use the Blackberry Enterprise server … which no other tablets can do.
Their software development strategy is also uniquely different from the rest. The other tablet manufacturers have all used their smartphone OS’s and modified them to run their tablets. RIM is doing the reverse. They are taking their Playbook OS and modifying it to run their smartphones … which might give them a lot more robust and capable system with fewer bugs.
As IDC analyst Al Hilwa said in a Sept. 28 research note … the introduction of Playbook may go down as “the day RIM began to get its mojo back.”
newspapers go online
Three big newspaper heavy weights, USA Today publisher Gannett Co., The Washington Post, and The New York Times have decided to each throw $4 million into the pot and jointly fund a new online news aggreator called Ongo.
The new startup’s owner and CEO will be Silicon Valley veteran Alex Kazim. He’s held previous executive positions at both Ebay and Skype as well as Paypal and Apple.
In a statement Mr. Kazim said “We are building Ongo to reflect the many ways consumers prefer to read, organize and share digital news. We’re gratified three such influential media companies recognize the value of what Ongo is creating, and we look forward to opening our doors soon.”
The new Cupertino California based company said it plans to put a “consumer service for reading and sharing digital news and information from multiple publishers” online by the end of the year.
Several U.S. newspapers have suffered big revenue losses recently due to the economic downturn, and advertisers are shifting their budgets around for more online exposure and fewer newspaper ads. With so much free information on the Internet newspapers are now scrambling for ways to monetize their content online.
Ever since the tax credit for home buyers ended in April observers in the housing market have wondered what the sales forecast would look like with no tax credit.
Peter Jankovskis of Oakbrook Investments observes “People are still waiting to get a set of numbers that has absolutely none of the government incentive in it for home buyers. From what I was able to gather, we are a couple of months away from that”.
For the May to July sales period, the Case-Shiller national index reports that July had the worst home sales in the last 15 years and August was about the same. The summer is usually the peak period for home sales but with high unemployment and the market being flooded with foreclosures people are hanging onto their wallets.
Nationally home sale prices have increased about 7% since April but are still about 27% less than the peak of July 2006. There were about 5 million foreclosures last year and probably at least that many more this year.
There is some evidence however that the banks have hidden a lot of foreclosures from being listed so as not to flood the market and drive down prices even more. It’s possible though that another big surge in foreclosures will force the banks to dump even more of their shadow inventory onto the market next year.
In the hyper competitive world of Silicon Valley, where Tech companies are constantly seeking out engineering and scientific talent to fullfil their needs … the Department Of Justice has decided that bilateral agreements amongst certain tech giants not to poach from their competitors labor force by cold calling went a bit too far.
Even though these types of employees are very well paid and in high demand, the DOJ concluded after a year long investigation that for companies to agree not to cold call each others’ employees for job prospects, that it amounted to a “restraint of trade” rule violation under well established antitrust law.
The Justice Department said the agreements to curb cold-calling each others’ workers amounted to “diminished competition to the detriment of the affected employees who were likely deprived of competitively important information and access to better job opportunities.”
Several of the big tech companies had established no cold call agreements amongst themselves. Apple and Google, Apple and Pixar, Intel and Google, Intuit and Google, and Apple and Adobe.
At its peak hiring phase in 2007 Google was hiring 40 people a day. Between 2005 and 2009 it grew the company by 16000 employees.
Intuit for one was not happy with the DOJ ruling and said they “ agreed to disagree” over the issue of wrongdoing in the case.
Bloomberg News reports that Verizon is getting ready to distribute iPhones in January. Up till now the GSM based iPhone could not operate on the CDMA system that the largest U.S. phone carrier uses.
Credit Suisse estimates that AT&T could lose as many as 1.4 million smartphone users to Verizon in 2011 alone. In a survey, 23% of AT&T users said they would switch as soon as possible, and 18 percent said they would wait until their contract expires.
AT&T has been the exclusive carrier for iPhone ever since they were launched in 2007. Apple is rumored to already be building iPhones that will operate over CDMA based networks.
When AT&T loses its exclusivity arrangement with Apple and the iPhone can suddenly roam to other carriers, some AT&T investors are beginning to worry about losing a lot of the smartphone business to Verizon. What will happen to their share prices then?
A recent poll from professional services firm Deloitte found that when they asked iPhone users if they could dump AT&T and move to Verizon Wireless … nearly half said they would be “very interested”. AT&T iPhone users have had a lot of trouble with the AT&T network … but up to now have been trapped if they wanted to use an iPhone.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson spoke at a Goldman Sachs investors meeting and said that losing a large number of users to Verizon after the exclusivity ends was unlikely. He pointed out that about 80% of iPhone users either got their phones through a business or were on family plans and thus wouldn’t change.
For $7.99 cdn. per month … a buck or so cheaper than its American brother, Canadians now have an online alternative to their local video store. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in Toronto Wednesday “It’s the lowest and most aggressive price ($7.99) we’ve had anywhere in the world for unlimited movie and TV shows”.
Canadians won’t be able to get physical delivery of Netflix movies like Americans can, but will have as much or even more choice for online streaming than American users.
Netflix reportedly chose Canada for its first expansion outside the U.S. because of the availability of high broadband connections to a large percentage of the population and their fondness for watching movies.
Netflix announced back in July that they were setting up shop in Canada. They’ve made arrangements to provide content from studios like MGM, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, and Universal Pictures.
Netflix will also source content from Lionsgate and other Canadian film distributors.