Archive for the ‘ Products ’ Category

Big deal comes on nano-SIM = metaphor for mobile market domination

After long months of fighting over the future of the nano-SIM, a tiny SIM card that would give phone makers more space for hardware in ultra-thin devices, a truce seems to have been negotiated.

The fight has featured Apple, Nokia, RIM, Motorola and the rest of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), and the debate has left those of us happy with our devices, whether they’re brand new last month or used cell phones, and happy to stay out of the drama. Nonetheless, we can’t help  follow the fray, since the  handsets of the future will inevitably become our used ones.

As covered by VentureBeat: The debate over the design has been split on a number of points, but one most significantly: Companies like Nokia were adamant about the design having a “push-push” mechanism, which would allow the card to eject once pushed. Apple, on the other hand, uses a SIM tray design in its devices, so it has no need for such a design. That, along with its desire to keep the new design compatible with previous ones, explain most of Apple’s design decisions. The central problem is this: Having two SIM card standards floating around is not something anyone wants.

So, what’s the big deal they brokered? It’s a compromise, of course. Proposed by RIM and Motorola, the design features elements that are 80 percent Apple’s and 20 percent RIM’s and Motorola’s, which the above story calls “ an ironic metaphor for the smart phone space that shouldn’t go unnoticed.”


T-Mobile continues to slide, fires 900

Poor T-Mobile. The company hasn’t managed to change its status as the industry’s neglected step-child. Recent news shows the mobile carrier is laying off 900 people in a second round of cuts following 10 consecutive quarters of contract user losses. And that’s while competitors like Sprint have been adding users to their customer rolls. Apparently loads of people are fleeing the cold congfines of T-Mobile and heading to what they consider to be warmer, more hospitable climes.

Says the Wall Street Journal piece above, T-Mobile, with around 36,000 employees, announced it would cut 1,900 jobs and close seven call centers to help preserve funds for a $4 billion network upgrade to a high-speed mobile broadband.

Sounds like the chiefs are betting that the upgrade will stave off further losses and make them more attractive to mobile users. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Regardless, consumers should remember that no matter their choice of carrier, they can add dollars to their budget and maintain high quality communications by buying lightly used cell phones. T-Mobile may save itself or it may not, but used cell phones and their expert refurbishers are here to stay.


Spotify positioning itself as “unique” in mobile space

Here at HQ, where we talk on refurbished used cell phones and use music to propel us through the work day, we’re almost always grooving out to Spotify. Which is why we found this piece from Mobile Marketer pretty fascinating. Seems a Spotify executive gave a keynote at the International CTIA Wireless 2012 conference and said the company is constantly working to uniquely position itself in the mobile space.

Talking during as part of the, “Building the Future of Mobile Music” keynote session, co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek defined the company’s mission as “giving users access to music that also supports the artist.” Spotify’s users average about 10 minutes of music listening per day (apparently we’re way above the mean at around 6 hours a day). Many of those are listening to music via Spotify on their mobile devices, and the service’s integration with Facebook last September only increased that trend.

And then there’s apps, as well. To keep up with its growing tanks of tech-savvy consumers, Spotify has also launched a number of apps. “These mobile apps have really been built up from the ground up because of social,” Ek was quoted as saying. “It shows that we’re innovating and investing in mobile.”

Consumers might soon be paying more for handsets

We soon may see rising prices for cell phones, says the Wall Street Journal, since wireless  carriers are working to change the terms of smart phone deals that have benefited phone manufacturers like Apple. The result would be consumers paying more for devices like the iPhone.

From the WSJ piece: “Carriers in the U.S. have been raising monthly rates and charging higher fees when customers upgrade to new phones. In Europe, embattled carriers are taking more aggressive measures: Spain’s two leading wireless companies are refusing to subsidize devices for new customers.”

This could hit consumers especially hard since  most upgrade their devices every two years. It’s plausible some will react by lengthening that period, but others might consider upgrading to a new-to-them device that’s still newer than their current phone. If so, this new development could be a boon to retailers who refurbish and sell used cell phones. Then again, if the American economy continues its slow but steady supposed recovery, maybe folks will pony up more cash for brand new phones. OF course, that would worsen the already substantial problem of cell phones piling up in landfills. Hopefully, people will wise up and realize that lightly used phones can do nearly exactly as much as brand new ones.

AT&T’s network capacity is strained

AT&T’s networks have become more efficient than they used to be (remember the chaos that ensued when the first few generations of iPhones came out and the network was over-burdened in large cities?), meaning it delivers more bandwidth over the same infrastructure and spectrum.

Even so, as Bloomberg Businessweek points out, they’ve sold so many large data plans to so many consumers that now that people are starting to use the entire allotment of data they’re paying for, the infrastructure is approaching the max-out limit. If you’re unhappy with the network, maybe it’s time to jump ship to Verizon and get used cell phones to offset the cost of breaking the contract.

From the Businessweek story:

AT&T’s first-quarter earnings show that new smartphone customers aren’t the ones straining its data networks. Rather, AT&T’s chickens have come home to roost. Customers are finally starting to consume the big buckets of data AT&T is selling them, taking their fair share of network capacity while not paying more for the privilege. Consequently AT&T is seeing a massive increase in data traffic without a corresponding jump in data revenue.

During AT&T’s Tuesday earnings call, Mobility Chief Executive Ralph de la Vega revealed that AT&T had added a net total of 10 million new smartphones over the past year. The devices now account for nearly 60 percent of its postpaid subscriber base. De la Vega also revealed that AT&T’s wireless data revenue is tracking about $24 billion per year, growing at a steady rate of more than 20 percent per year.

But AT&T has pointed out before that data traffic on its mobile networks is actually doubling each year. So that means a 100 percent annual increase in mobile gigabytes shipped is being driven by a mere 32 percent increase in smartphones. What’s more, AT&T is collecting only a few billion dollars more in revenue to handle that deluge of new data.


Used cell phones for price comparisons

The number of people using their mobile phones to compare product prices while shopping is soaring. A new report shows half of smart phone and tablet users utilize the practice to wield greater control over the purchase process. The most mobilized of shoppers, the Mediapost story on the GfC report says, “are leveraging their device at every key stage of the purchase process, from research to peer recommendations, value-seeking to the purchase itself.”

Additionally, 44 percent of users are looking for coupons on their devices and 17 percent have already purchased a product via mobile platforms. Of course most are also “liking” certain products or services on Facebook and other social networks, too. GfK coins this “extreme shopping” and says it’s all about the desire for control. Indeed, subjects said they feel “more in control than ever before” of the shopping experience, because these devices help them choose the best products, shop more efficiently and find a broader range of information sources.

Obviously, comparison shopping, via app, your friend’s recommendation on Facebook and coupon-searching is all possible on any smart phone, whether it’s new, used, or refurbished. For those shoppers who have been coupon clipping for decades and envy their smart phone owning fellow customers, this might actually be the thing that actually drives them to finally cave and buy a new phone. Since they’re already so bargain-focused, they’d likely be happy to know they can find a perfectly high-functioning phone at a shop that carries used cell phones. That way, they can get a deal on a new phone in order to get more deals. And who can beat that?

Social networking on smart phones outpaces gaming

We’ve noticed that the people who spent years mocking “gamers” have now succumbed to games’ online cousins: social networking. Even our Aunt Ada, never a fan of anything electronic, can’t wait to get home to check out what’s happening on Facebook, and once she gets the app on her iPhone, watch out! Who knows if she’ll even be able to drive without checking her Wall (ah, the terms that have become part of our dialogue lexicon, from tweet to friending to Wall).

Seems the numbers show there are lots of Aunt Adas burning minutes on their mobile devices these days. Says a piece in, “Since the dawn of the smartphone, games have dominated consumers’ mobile minutes. In the past year, however, new research shows that social networking has risen to rival gaming on a per-minute basis.”

The proof? Flurry compared the average time smart phone users spent across app categories between the first quarter of 2011 and 2012, and found that gaming dropped by 4% — down to 24 minutes per day — while social networking increased by 60% — up to 24 minutes per day. Peter Farago, the firm’s VP of marketing, told the site, “We take the rise in social networking apps as a signal of maturation for the platform — As game demand may be hitting its saturation point, consumers are also discovering other apps, namely social networking.”

For those of us who peddle phones, this is good news. Because the more popular social networking becomes on smart phones, the more smart phones people will want. And, those of us who happen to sell used cell phones can offer a the Aunt Adas of the world a great deal – a smart phone that’s been lightly used and is Just as adept at calls and apps as a brand new iPhone – at half the price.

We can count on seeing continuing growth based on the current trends. Flurry found huge growth in year-over-year social networking app usage. Time spent increased by 60 percent, and the total time spent on smart phone apps among consumers  went from 68 to 77 minutes, a jump of 13 percent.

iPhone drives wireless subscribers to Verizon

Remember when AT&T was the only carrier that allowed you to have a iPhone? Ah, the memories of being shackled to the company’s over-burdened network rife with dropped calls and wobbly signals. We knew folks who were counting down the days until they could jump ship and go to Verizon. And a lot did.

The New-York based carrier posted a first-quarter profit of $1.69 billion, or 59 cents a share, compared with a year-ago profit of $1.44 billion, or 51 cents a share, according to a story in CNET. Apple’s beloved device has spurred Verizon’s revenue to rise 4.6 percent, to $28.46 billion.

Analysts were estimating forecasted earnings of 58 cents a share on revenue of $28.17 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

The iPhone has allowed Verizon to grow its ranks of subscribers while other carriers are contending with a fairly saturated digital market  facing stagnant customer growth in recent years, especially on the contract side. And for Verizon, it’s all on the strength of its network, is known for its high quality instead of its maddening plethora of dropped calls. Its fast 4G LTE network has been a real draw for consumers.

Revenue from Verizon’s wireless arm, which it jointly owns with Vodafone, jumped 7.7 percent to $15.4 billion, mostly due to the iPhone. The company sold 3.2 million iPhones, compared to the 2.1 million 4G LTE smart phones sold in the same period. The beauty of using an iPhone on the Verizon network is that you can save money without sacrificing quality by buying a used cell phone for less than half the price of a new one, and still have the vast majority of the high-functioning Apple product’s bells and whistles combined with great reception and service. It’s a no-brainer.



Learning requires play, and digital apps are following the data

Along with happiness research, another growing field seems to be the science of play. According to experts, children – and even adults – often learn more readily when what they’re doing is more like play than work. Enter a new generation of digital gadgets designed to help kids learn as they play. At the recent and aptly-named Sand Box Summit, held at MIT, the conference united educators and technologists aiming to reach youn g folks ranging from toddlerhood to 20s “and equip them with skills for the digital lifestyle of the 21st century.”

The effort included an array of online games and educational content, as well as toys that provide offline activities in tandem with online apps. Now that infants are so close to technology with the advent of ever-present smart phones and tablets, apps and games are becoming second nature to them. And older children are becoming active on social media at earlier ages.

Examples? Calloway Digital Arts now has apps for Apple’s iOS device that feature digital storybooks with games designed for children’s development. The company’sThomas the Tank Engine stories include have puzzles and coloring e-books.

The conference, and the industry at-large, is focused on developing new ways to fuse sophisticated learning such as reading and information processing and art, with digital play. So whether your kids are using smart phones, used cell phones or your iPad, you can make sure to have educational tools on-hand in addition to the usual Angry Birds-type stuff.

Paying with smart phones to become norm by 2020

Rarely pay your electric bill – or buy a pack of M&Ms — on your iPhone? According to more than two-thirds of technology insiders, that will change by 2020, when most consumers will pay their bills with smart phones instead of with cash and credit cards. That was the result of a survey released last week by the Pew Internet and American Life Project and Elon University’s School of Communications.

The survey asked some 1,000 technology experts and stakeholders to agree or disagree with a statement asserting that “swiping smart phones” would replace most cash and credit purchases. The answer options were referring to NFC (near field communications) technology, which permits a communication between a sensor in the payment terminal and another in the consumer’s smart phone to complete a monetary transaction.

A full sixty-five percent of the respondents agreed that NFC would be widespread eight years from now. Already, at least 10 percent of mobile phone owners have made payments using their phones, ComScore data reported.

For consumers who rarely use a cell phone at all, much less to conduct comparison shopping price checks at Target, they’re going to need to catch up in order to go shopping. One way to start would be to have a tech-savvy friend help them shop around at some local mobile technology stores and then assist them in buying a used cell phone, one that has been only lightly used or refurbished by a shop that does cell phone repair. That way, they’ll be ready to use their phone for every day transactions when the time comes and without having to spend a large sum of money.

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