Monthly Archives: November 2012

iPhone 5 + AT&T + Nigeria = FAIL.

Never the twain shall meet.

I just got back from burying my father in Nigeria and I’m thoroughly disgusted with both my iPhone 5 and AT&T.

You see, I was originally going to buy a burner for the trip.

A throwaway phone that I’d cop at the airport in Nigeria, load up with minutes and give to one of my relatives on my way out of the country.

Simple.

But noooo…I had to get all fancy.

I remembered that the iPhone was a GSM, which meant I could use it abroad.

I had used my iPhone 4 in Cannes, France with great success.

I simply had to switch up my international plan, set up a global data plan and I’d be set.

I didn’t even have to call AT&T to make the switch because I could do it all within the AT&T app.

So as I taxied on the runway at Newark airport, I set up my joint and felt secure that I had made the right choice.

When I got to Frankfurt, where I had a brief layover, I was rocking.

I was making calls, receiving emails and texting like a champ.

I was imbued, however, with a false sense of security.

Because when I arrived in Nigeria, nothing worked.

I couldn’t make calls.

I couldn’t send or receive texts.

I couldn’t surf the internet.

Nothing.

Effing.

Worked.

Cellular data on – nuthin.

Cellular data off – nada.

Wifi on – bupkis.

Wifi off – nyet.

Every once in a while, I would get an errant text message.

Frequently, my ‘No Service” would become “AIRTEL” or “Glo Ng”.

But my hopes of cellular connectivity were quickly dashed as calls routinely failed.

And then (somehow) I got a text message that almost caused me to lop off my own head.

Due to high international data usage your data service was suspended, including in USA.

WTF!?

Enraged, I immediately called the toll free number listed in the text.

Remarkably, the call went through.

Me (icily): “Yeah…I just got a text message saying that my data service was suspended because I was over my limit. But I haven’t been able to use my phone since I landed in Nigeria.”

AT&T: “It appears that you’ve used 51.6 Mb on your data plan.”

Me (seething): “When? I haven’t been able to use my phone since I got here!”

AT&T: “Well that’s because you’re not set up for international use.”

Me (on the verge of losing my marbles): “But I did…I used the app…”

I had to stop myself.

Ol’ girl was about to have her ass handed to her.

Clearly, whatever I had done (for which I received several email confirmations), hadn’t taken.

And rather than harp on what I had already done (to ensure that I wasn’t where I was right now), I decided to work with miss thing to get my shit straight.

I was on with an operator, and she was helping to ensure that my account was properly configured for international use.

After confirming my requested upgrades, we parted, confident that I could get my dial on.

First call – the wifey. Let her know I’m set.

Dialing.

Dial assist message.

Call failed.

CALL FAILED?!!!!

It took every sinew in my body to suppress the urge to fling my precious iPhone across the room and test the efficacy of my Otter case.

To add insult to injury, my younger brother, who still rocks an iPhone 4 (with AT&T) had no problems whatsoever.

The entire time we were there, he was chilling on his joint.

Texting folks in and out of Nigeria.

Calling.

Posting pictures to Facebook.

Mind you, he reminded me that I could simply have AT&T switch up my stuff so that my phone would work outside of the US.

But clearly something was lost in translation between the 4 and the 5.

Because both my other brother, The Doc, and I have the iPhone 5.

And we were both screwed.

Now, I don’t know how many of we iPhone 5 owners travel internationally.

Or how many have experienced something similar.

But I can’t accept that stepping up to the 5 means stepping down in performance and utility.

And I’m certainly not checking for spending more money to do so either.

So AT&T I’m fully expecting a credit of $5.99 for the so-called ‘world traveler’ international calling, $30 for the global messaging, and $60 for the global data – that I never got to effing use.

And if you do plan on taking a jaunt to the continent – get yourself a burner.

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Filed under iPhone, mobile, opinion, rant

Google Wallet makes mobile payments a reality.

Years ago, when I was working in mobile marketing, mobile payments were all the rage.

Brands were just starting to experiment with SMS, and premium SMS messaging offered content creators an opportunity to monetize their mobile campaigns.

If someone with a text-messaging enabled mobile device saw your call to action, “Text WAYNE to 12345 to get Lil’ Wayne’s newest single!”), they could type in the keyword, send it to a short code and Voila! they were listening to Weezy right from their mobile phone.

Of course, it didn’t always work that smoothly or all the time.

If you had Verizon phone, for example, which restricted hyperlinks, good luck trying to click through to the URL provided on the link you received.

Or if you hit your monthly messaging limit, you wouldn’t be able to send or receive text messages at all.

And at the time, mobile payments were restricted to paying for premium mobile content on your wireless carrier bill.

In order to complete a purchase, there was a double opt-in process, where the user had to validate that they wanted the content and understood the costs and conditions associated with the offer.

Typically, taking advantage of these premium offers involved giving your wireless carrier AND the aggregator AND (in some instances) the content platform provider a portion of the fees associated with that purchase.

Subscription chat lines and information services, like KGBKGB, sprung up to tap into users’ voracious appetite for texting.

You couldn’t buy tangible things with your mobile device.

Outside of wallpapers, ringtones and music downloads, mobile content was the only thing you could really purchase.

Today, that’s no longer the case.

Smartphones, mobile web sites, and mobile apps let you use your mobile phone to purchase virtually anything.

You’re no longer tethered to your wireless carrier if you want buy something.

iTunes and the proliferation of copycat app stores mean that you can cop plenty of compelling content right to your device.

And not have AT&T or Verizon Wireless mucking about in the transaction.

But there’s a different mobile payments space growing and maturing.

We’ve seen early glimpses of that with PayPal.

Apps like Square that have turned your mobile phone into a payment processing center.

In Europe and Asia, paying using your mobile device is commonplace.

But here in the states, the growth of mobile payments has advanced at a snail’s pace.

Until now.

Google Wallet is a mobile payment system that allows its users to store their debit cards, credit cards, loyalty cards, and gift cards on their mobile phones.

Using near-field communication (NFC), Google Wallet lets users make secure payments by simply tapping their phone on any PayPass-enabled terminal at checkout.

Although Google Wallet launched in 2011, it was only this August, that they set up expanded support to all major credit and debit cards including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.

What does it all mean?

Well for one, you’re no longer reduced to making mobile payments solely with PayPal.

More importantly, the tedious process of entering your payment information, name, address, credit card number, expiration date, security code, etc., is as simple as providing your username and password.

This is a real boon for online retailers, who see the majority of their drop offs occurring at checkout.

The best thing about Google Wallet, unlike PayPal (the carriers) and virtually any other merchant processing system, is that they don’t charge processing fees.

No fees?

That’s awesome!

Mind you, I’m not a Google person myself.

Google Wallet doesn’t work on iOS devices.

So unless there’s an app in the works, hundreds of millions of Apple users will be in the dark.

But big up to all you Android users, who have the ability to truly experience what the mobile revolution is shaping up to be…

At least as it relates to mobile payments.

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Filed under apps, digital advocacy, mobile, technology

The iPad 4 arrives with a whimper. But it’s better than the Mini.

Sometimes Apple really perplexes me.

I’ll tell you why.

Last month, when they announced the iPhone 5, many speculated that Apple would also unveil the iPad Mini.

Others felt that Apple wouldn’t want to upstage the iPhone with the iPad mini.

Ultimately, the iPhone was announced alone.

On Wednesday, last week, however, they announced two new products, the iPad Mini AND the iPad 4.

Few, like myself, even took notice that there was another iPad release.

Hadn’t Apple withheld the release of the iPad Mini to avoid one device stealing the thunder from another?

Why, then would they announce the release the iPad 4 and the iPad Mini on the same date?

It’s not like the iPad 4 isn’t worthy of shine.

It’s got the new lightning connector.

And supposedly it’s fast a hell.

It’s got an A6X processor and doubled the speed of wifi.

There’s also a higher quality FaceTime camera, which means you can see yourself…better?

But as many analysts have noted, it’s just an iterative change.

Well we got both the iPad 4 and Mini in the office yesterday, and the Mini is nothing to write home about.

Side by side comparison. Notice anything different?

I can say this much about it – it’s smaller.

You can fit it comfortably in your hand, like the Galaxy Note.

And it’s extremely light.

Compared to the iPad 4 (which weighs a friggin’ ton) it’s light as a feather.

But that’s about where the benefits end.

The display isn’t retina, and the difference is noticeable.

And everything is smaller.

You would think that looking at websites on the Mini would be akin to viewing on a full-size iPad, but tis not the case.

It’s more like looking at a big iPhone.

The text is too small to be read easily without eye strain, and everything is just…smaller.

The iPad 4, for it’s part is really just a blown out iPad 2.

Like it’s predecessor (the iPad 3), it’s heavy as shit.

This extra weight comes not from the retina display, the new processor or additional antennae.

It’s the battery.

Want all those bells and whistles?

Then hold this fat ass battery.

As far as performance goes, they’re virtually indistinguishable.

Watching videos over wifi, they performed pretty well.

Both loaded quickly and streamed fine.

Folks filed in to take a look at the Mini, and the universal opinion was that it was ‘cute’ and little.

And that may be enough for folks to shell out $329 for the wifi only model.

And the extra weight may not bother folks who are looking to preserve their eyesight and cop the iPad 4.

To be honest, I was underwhelmed by both devices.

For what it’s worth, I’ll pick up an iPad 2 and call it a day.

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Filed under iPad, opinion, technology

Radio killed the Internet star. Inequitable royalty calculations are hurting artists.

Reading an article in the NY Times recently about a brewing royalties dispute left me stymied.

Apparently, there is a bill circulating that would reduce the amount of money streaming radio stations pay for the right to broadcast music.

The proposal would bring streaming royalty rates in line with those paid by satellite and terrestrial stations, which are about five times less.

The issue has come to a head as Pandora, arguably the most successful model for streaming radio, struggles to stay afloat in light of royalty rates which amount to half of its profits.

Pandora argues that the rates for streaming radio services should be calculated on the same basis as satellite and terrestrial services.

The current calculations render widely disparate results, such that many streaming services are grappling under the oppressive weight of these fees.

Fundamental to the argument being made by streaming services, like Pandora, is the fact that the exorbitant rate charged streaming services is a barrier to entry.

By stifling new entrants, it reduces the overall number of streams and thus, the royalties artists could potentially earn.

Fewer streaming services, fewer streams, fewer royalties.

It’s not rocket science.

But the music industry doesn’t see it that way.

They argue that streaming services are profiting handsomely, and the efforts to reduce the rate is driven by greed and the desire to increase profits at the expense of musicians.

They point to the ad-supported nature of most streaming services, in support of this position.

This argument would have merit if streaming services were paying the same royalties as satellite services and then sought a reduction.

But the issue is that streaming services pay a disproportionately higher share of their revenues for the right to stream than similarly situated non-Internet services.

And there is no rational basis for the disparity.

Currently, streaming services pay a fraction of a cent each time a song is streamed whereas satellite services, like Sirius, pay a fixed percentage of their revenue to artists and labels.

The two different standards exist because at the dawn of the Internet age, no one knew how big streaming over the Internet would get.

A fraction of a cent per stream seemed reasonable when they were few, if any, true streaming models to base a formula upon.

But services like Last.fm, Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio and their progeny, have demonstrated that streaming radio is growing and viable.

And where streaming revenues were thought to once be a thing of folly, they are now very much a reality.

An entirely new market has developed around it.

However, this fraction-of-a-cent revenue model has proven to be inequitable in its application.

And it should be abandoned in favor of one that continues to provide revenue for streaming services and consistent royalties to artists and labels.

This issue is far from over, and I’ll definitely keep you posted with any updates.

If you like your streaming services, I’d suggest you contact your elected officials and make a stink.

Because if the music industry has it’s way, streaming radio will go the way of the record labels and be extinct before you know it.

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Filed under digital advocacy, music, technology

A world without internet sucks. Sandy proves that Revolution is real.

I’ve been holed up at the Holiday Inn Express for the past few days.

Note to self: NEVER stay at a Holiday Inn Express again.

After almost 24 hours in the dark, I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am for heat, electricity and potable water.

But you know what I’m really grateful for?

The internet.

Wifi specifically.

When Sandy first hit creating the blackout and taking out my internet, I thought I’d be fine.

Both my phones were 4G LTE and my iPad was a 3G.

Who needs wifi?

But Sandy’s devastation took out cell towers too.

And my sanity with them.

If you thought making calls was challenging, getting on the internet using a cellular signal was virtually impossible.

If you could access the internet, trying to get anything to download was like Chinese water torture.

We’re not even going to talk about what this was doing to battery life.

I found myself despairing for lack of connectivity.

How would I survive?

Woe is me!!

Luckily there was a vacancy at the HIE, and I found my salvation.

But others were not so lucky.

As I turned on the boob tube, I saw Sandy’s true devastation.

Breaking news stories talked about people’s desperate attempts to keep their devices powered.

One station talked of one boy’s ordeal trying to get uptown to a charging station.

A charging station?

With no buses or subways running, there was little he could do.

He offered his two drained and useless devices, like Christ showing his crucifixion wounds to wary disciples, as proof.

Noooooooo!

I could watch no more.

I quickly turned the channel to reruns of the King of Queens.

That Kevin James is a hoot.

A world without electricity?

Sure you’re right.

What…are we going to descend into lawlessness?

Fight at gas pumps, loot empty stores and homes, and run amuck in the streets?

Wait a minute…

Who would have thunk that the creators of Revolution were really onto something?

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Filed under opinion, Uncategorized