It seems that AT&T may have made one last Hail Mary play in order to remain the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the US. According to Wall Street analyst Brian Marshall, quoted by Computerworld, AT&T may have been allowed to hang on to the deal until the end of 2010 by offering significantly discounted data plans for Apple’s iPad 3G.
In the run up to the iPad launch, many touted Verizon as a shoe-in to become the next iPhone carrier alongside AT&T as well as to provide data services for the iPad. This never happened.
Although his claims appear unsubstantiated, Marshall, who currently works for BroadPoint AMTech, believes that AT&T, in a desperate bid to hold on to the lucrative iPhone carrier rights, made some serious sacrifices in providing a hugely discounted data contract for iPad owners.
Consumers questioned the need for another 3G contract alongside their iPhone when the iPad was announced with many pundits claiming that the price of the service would be key to Apple’s strategy. By granting an additional six months to AT&T’s exclusivity, it appears Apple was able to meet this target.
AT&T currently offers two data plans for the iPad 3G, one for $14.99 per month for up to 250MB and another at $29.99 for unlimited data. Neither package requires the user to sign a contract and both include free access to AT& Wi-Fi hotspots. By comparison to the competition, this is a very reasonable deal for iPad users and one that will surely have come at a cost to AT&T, which has struggled with wireless data loads since the iPhone was launched.
By contrast to the US, Europe has multiple carriers for the iPhone that are currently fighting to offer data plans for the iPad when it is released this summer.
AT&T’s network has long been criticized for a number of failings including dropped calls and poor coverage, notably so during a very public spat between the company and Verizon. Verizon launched a stinging ad campaign comparing its 3G coverage to AT&T’s while also aping Apple’s iPhone ads with the slogan “There’s a map for that” resulting in a legal back and forth between both companies. In response to AT&T’s suit that claimed the ads mislead the public, Verizon simply commented “the truth hurts”.
Verizon has reportedly conveyed to Apple its desire to carry the iPhone but, at present, it seems they can’t offer the right goods to seal the deal. Not even, it appears, the offer of a better network.
Until just recently, app store downloads over EDGE or 3G have been limited to 10MB in size. Shoppers can now proceed to download files up to 20MB before having to use a Wi-Fi connection or iTunes on their computers.
The cap has been in place to presumably temper data usage on AT&T’s network, and many developers have sought to keep their applications under the previous 10MB limit in an effort to never discourage a sale.
The quiet increase to a 20MB cap size is now in effect for both app store and iTunes over-the-air purchases, and arrives fairly close to the impending release of the iPad.
AT&T finally today turned on MMS for the iPhone in the US. Having missed their original target date of “Late Summer”, it’s finally here and so far it’s actually working. Working slowly, but it’s working.
Enabling MMS on your iPhone requires a little work. First, you have to connect to iTunes and be running OS 3.1 if you aren’t already. Next, you need to click the Check for Updates button in iTunes. iTunes should then tell you that a carrier file update is available and ask you if you want to install it. Go ahead and do it, it’s really quick. It will look like nothing has happened, but the key is that you need to restart your iPhone.
Next you’ll need to restart your iPhone. Shut it down by holding the power until you see the Slide to Power Off screen. Slide the button and then power up your phone once it has shut down.
Once you have done that, launch the Messages app and look for the new little camera icon in the message entry dialog. Congrats, only 3 months after every other iPhone provider, AT&T have finally turned on MMS capability for your iPhone.
Want to know how to use MMS? The main thing you need to know is that you can include images, videos (if you have a 3GS), map locations, and contact details. You can include the images/videos from within the Messages app or you can copy / paste them from the other apps. Contacts you can click the share contact button from a contact details screen and select MMS. For maps, click and hold on a pin and select the blue chevron and choose the share location button.
If you want more details on how to use MMS, head on over to The iPhone Blog, they have a nice MMS walkthrough posted.
Don’t expect it to be speedy. In our first tests it’s taken about 30 seconds to send an image. Much longer to send a video. Receiving images seems to be fairly quick, but getting slower as our tests go on.
The question now is, will this overload AT&Ts network. They seem to be a bit worried. And if it does, will it just delay MMS delivery or will it bring the whole network down?
TechCrunch has gotten ahold of the responses from Apple, AT&T, and Google to the FCC request for information on why the Google Voice application was rejected. The summary from Apple is that the app hasn’t been rejected and they are still studying it.
Quote from Apple response:
Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it. The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone’s core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail. Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality of the iPhone. For example, on an iPhone, the “Phone” icon that is always shown at the bottom of the Home Screen launches Apple’s mobile telephone application, providing access to Favorites, Recents, Contacts, a Keypad, and Visual Voicemail. The Google Voice application replaces Apple’s Visual Voicemail by routing calls through a separate Google Voice telephone number that stores any voicemail, preventing voicemail from being stored on the iPhone, i.e., disabling Apple’s Visual Voicemail. Similarly, SMS text messages are managed through the Google hub—replacing the iPhone’s text messaging feature. In addition, the iPhone user’s entire Contacts database is transferred to Google’s servers, and we have yet to obtain any assurances from Google that this data will only be used in appropriate ways. These factors present several new issues and questions to us that we are still pondering at this time.
Regarding Apple’s agreement with AT&T and what role AT&T has in the approval of applications, Apple says that they alone make the final decision to approve or reject an application. But Apple goes on to say that their agreement with AT&T keeps them from approving VoIP apps and apps that violate the AT&T terms of service.
There is a provision in Apple’s agreement with AT&T that obligates Apple not to include functionality in any Apple phone that enables a customer to use AT&T’s cellular network service to originate or terminate a VoIP session without obtaining AT&T’s permission. Apple honors this obligation, in addition to respecting AT&T’s customer Terms of Service, which, for example, prohibit an AT&T customer from using AT&T’s cellular service to redirect a TV signal to an iPhone. From time to time, AT&T has expressed concerns regarding network efficiency and potential network congestion associated with certain applications, and Apple takes such concerns into consideration.
Some other gems from Apple’s response:
- Apple employs over 40 full-time app reviewers
- At least 2 reviewers study each app before it’s approved
- There’s a senior review board that meets weekly to review applications that raise new questions. Most likely this is where apps go when the developer gets the “unexpected extra time to review” notice.
- 95% of applications are approved within 14 days of being submitted.
- Apple receives 8,500 new and updated app submissions every week, roughly 20% are not approved
Those last 2 points don’t really add up. If 20% of submissions are rejected every week, now do 95% get approved within 2 weeks. Perhaps Apple is saying that of the 80% that get approved, 95% of those get approved within 14 days?
AT&T’s response on the other hand pretty much completely sidesteps the question of rejection of VoIP and video applications (like SlingPlayer). They don’t explain why those applications are available on most of the other platforms in use on the AT&T network.
FCC Question: Do any devices that operate on AT&T’s network allow use of other
applications that have been rejected for the iPhone?
As discussed above, AT&T does not participate in Apple’s day-to-day consideration of
whether particular iPhone applications should or should not be rejected for use on the
iPhone, and Apple does not typically notify AT&T when particular iPhone applications
are accepted or rejected. Consequently, AT&T cannot identify all applications that have been rejected for the iPhone. As discussed above and on the AT&T Choice website,
however, AT&T customers are able to use a broad range of applications on their AT&T
customers can use Google Voice on any AT&T phone, including the iPhone, by
accessing it through their web browser. Customers can also download compatible
applications for music, social networking, photography, weather, navigation, travel,
In Google’s response to the FCC, the really interesting part, the conversation between Apple and Google about the Google Voice application is, unfortunately redacted. I’m hoping that the Freedom of Information Act will allow the release of that text at some point in the future.
For the full, responses, check out TechCrunch:
While Apple and AT&T’s lawyers are busy dealing with multiple lawsuits for failing to deliver MMS, we’ve been rounding up the latest App Store news.
Man, that’s a lot of beer money. Ever wonder how much you’ve spent on apps? There’s some new software for Mac that reads all of your downloaded apps and ads up how much they would cost. To be truly accurate you need to edit the prices of some apps, but it’s pretty close. I hate to tell you how much I’ve spent so far. Here’s a hint — I could easily feed an NFL team for a week.
In other news, man seeks attention. Someone trying to make a point decides to try and get publicity for that point. Not a new story, it happens all the time. But this guy decided he was so upset with Apple that he was going to shoot his iPhone with a 9MM and then set it on fire. That should prove a point. Watch the video for a nice case of misguided anger.
Luxor getting the Plus+ treatment Luxor, one of the best known marble shooter games is getting Plus+ integration and will be released for the iPhone soon. One of the first specific games to be announced with the social gaming platform developed by ngmoco:) integrated.
What will be keeping me busy this weekend. Worms just released an update. I’m going to try that out and hope that it fixes the major problems we had with the game. I’m testing out GPS apps. Gomi still has me hooked. Plus a couple other pre-release games I’m looking into.
What are you playing this weekend? Let us know in the comments. Have a great weekend everyone!
Sure, Apple is dead to Jason Calacanis but we think the old rainbow fruit might still have a little life left in her — therefore, here’s the latest iPhone app store news.
Duke Nukem 3D is awesome and disappointing.
Duke Nukem 3D
Today, Richard takes a look at Duke Nukem 3D. He’s a lot more generous with the app than I think I would have been. Such is the way with reviews. While it’s amazingly cool to see Duke on the iPhone screen, that excitement was greatly diminished once I started to play it. The controls are just awful. To me they just show a complete lack of understanding of the platform. Something you’d expect to see of an amateur developer but not from a developer with this much experience. They must have just had to rush it out for some reason. Also, seems as though they aren’t limiting the speed properly. On a 3GS, the movements are extremely fast. Oh well, it’s still cool to see. Let’s hope the controls get fixed up soon. For nostalgia’s sake I’d love to actually be able to play it rather than just show it off.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-08-10 :: Category: Games
Galcon 1 year anniversary brings a facelift.
Galcon Looking Great!
We’ve heard from Galcon
creator Phil Hessey that he has submitted an update that gives it “shiny real-game feel instead of a made in some guy’s basement feel.” While we think the original looks fantastic, take a look at this sample image to see what awesomeness is to come. The update marks the 1 year anniversary of Galcon being in the app store.
If you’re not familiar with Galcon, it’s a great single / multiplayer real time strategy game. It’s a fantastic game if you like a little strategy with your arcade, check it out. The update has been submitted and is a free upgrade to anyone who has bought the app. It should be available soon.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2008-07-18 :: Category: Games
SlingPlayer Mobile 1.1 to work over 3G — outside the US. So if AT&T has no say in what apps get approved, why is AT&T the only carrier who’s customers will not be seeing an update to Slingplayer to allow streaming of content over 3G? Viewing content over 3G is just one of the features planned in this rumored release recently submitted to Apple. Other purported features in this update include 16:9 viewing and an updated user interface for Dish Network users. Via TUAW.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-05-13 :: Category: Entertainment
eTextbooks may finally be here. CourseSmart have released an iPhone application that interfaces with their online textbook rental service. According to their site the usual rental is for 180 days and is about 50% the normal cost of the book. The downside is of course that there is no trade in value. So in the end it’s about the same as buying and then selling a textbook yet considerably more convenient. The app is free and requires an account from their site to use.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-08-09 :: Category: Education
USAA bank brings virtual check deposits to the iPhone. USAA have updated their mobile banking app and included a new feature they call Deposit@Mobile. The feature allows their customers with iPhones to take a picture of the front and back of a check to deposit it. Once that’s done and it’s verified at the bank, the check will appear in your account just like you deposited it at an ATM. It’s a pretty big advancement and one that’s sure to see some scrutiny from security experts. But, it’s a step in the right direction.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-05-11 :: Category: Finance
Dear Mr. Jobs,
In all of these months since the app store launched, I’ve been hesitant to be negative of Apple and the app store approval process. Developers have responded passionately and repeatedly with stories of rejected apps and even apps removed from the app store for various reasons. Sometimes they were right, the rejection didn’t make sense. But many times, they were wrong, the app should have been rejected due to obvious reasons.
But today, it seems as though Apple has gone from being just mysterious in it’s approval process to outright complacent. With the removal of apps that use the Google Voice APIs to allow you to access their services, Apple has crossed a line into scary overlord territory. It almost seems as though roles in the 1984 commercial have been reversed.
So yes, these apps may duplicate some of the functions of the iPhone. But as many argue, they don’t, as the features they supply aren’t available on the iPhone. They no more duplicate functions than any of hundreds of apps that provide weather information, calendar interfaces, embedded browsers, contact management, sms services, heck, even the dozens of voice recorders already released now duplicate a default application in OS 3.0.
My big question is, what made this happen now? Is AT&T behind this rejection? If so, this adds to a list of innovative apps they have neutered. For example, SlingPlayer, an application that AT&T even publicizes for Blackberry was restricted to only working over Wifi for the iPhone. Ridiculous… that basically strips 90% of it’s functionality. And if they are behind the rejection of Google Voice related apps, an application that’s already available on Blackberries as well, on their network even, I have to wonder what’s going on? What are they thinking? What are they afraid of?
I can’t believe it’s really their network. They have been adding new customers regularly. Not just this quarter, but for the past 2 years. They’ve had time to upgrade their network as needed for all these new iPhone customers.
Further, why would Apple be in such a stranglehold from AT&T? Why would Apple allow AT&T to stifle innovation in this platform and restrict such applications? It’s boggling why AT&T treats iPhones and their users with such a lack of respect even though we pay more for the same service than other customers.
So, to get to my point, what all this adds up to is that the iPhone is still the best mobile platform to develop for, by far. We all know that. But the platform that freed developers in so many ways is being increasingly perceived as a hostile environment. There are too many unknowns for some developers to put the time and expense into developing the next big, innovative app for the platform when they have no way of even verifying that they can ever release their app.
People are starting companies, risking their livelihoods and their futures on the iPhone and the iTunes App Store. It’s just bad developer (not to mention public) relations to operate such a veiled process like this knowing that so many people depend on it for their livelihood. Not to mention that it will eventually end up in court and could cost Apple a bundle.
So, Mr. Jobs, I ask this of you. You have the power to fix all of these problems. Please do so and we can all be a big happy family again.
First, take the developer agreement and re-write it. At its core, the problem is that Apple has only published rules to developers that basically say, we’ll approve what we want to, here are a few very non-specific guidelines to follow.
Get your product managers in there and tell them to re-write it so that it is written for the benefit of the developers not Apple’s legal department. No blanket statements, be specific with details about what is and is not allowed. Leave nothing out. Then, open it up for discussion with your devoted developers to get their feedback. And then, stick to it. No exceptions like you made for AT&T (going around the in-app purchasing with their GPS app), or Google (use of undocumented APIs for the proximity sensor). We’ll all be happier if we are all on a well explained and level playing field.
Second, slap AT&T, tell them that they have no control over the app store. Apple, you have created a revolution with this platform and it’s bigger than AT&T. But, if they are restricting innovation it can never come close to it’s full potential.
And Steve, can I call you Steve? That brings up a bigger topic related to AT&T. Can you please do something about the AT&T exclusivity in the USA? They treat the iPhone like it’s a cheap Nokia feature phone, not like the best phone ever seen by man. They treat it like a nuisance and it’s users like second-class citizens. We aren’t treated as we should be treated, as their only hope for a future and the only reason they are still in business. AT&T are acting like narrow-minded, slow to upgrade, innovation stifling knuckleheads. So, please, use your powers, the ones that you so deftly used a few years to get your way with AT&T, to either get them to clean up their act, or move on to Verizon like everyone thinks is going to happen.
Publisher / Founder
Today, TechCrunch revealed that the 2 existing Google Voice apps, VoiceCentral and GV Mobile had been removed from the app store. They also heard from Google that the official Google Voice application for the iPhone had been rejected by Apple.
The apps were officially rejected due to the clause in the iPhone developer agreement that states that apps can’t duplicate the functions built into the OS. Really, a lame clause and likely just covering up something else. After all, how many hundreds of apps in the app store duplicate functionality of the built-in apps?
The rejections have been unofficially blamed on a clueless AT&T attempting to protect their fleeting business. If true, it shows a real desperate company that just doesn’t understand the need to innovate and lead rather than just fail by sticking to your quickly aging business.
But why has AT&T intervened yet again when this same app is available on Blackberry phones using the AT&T network? When will AT&T stop treating iPhone customers like second class customers?
I’m no fan of AT&T, I think very few customers are, but this just adds another log to the fire.
There’s one main reason I’m not going to buy the iPhone 3GS.
It’s not that it’s not enough of an upgrade. It’s a decent revision that makes the phone a heck of a lot faster. Sure most of the obvious parts of the upgrade is in the OS revision, but there are still a couple great features of the iPhone 3GS. The new camera is fantastic. The compass is great and should add a ton of functionality to maps and game controls. The extra memory, faster processor, and extra battery life is killer!
But I’m still not going to upgrade to the 3GS, even though I really want to.
The reason I’m not going to upgrade is because of AT&T.
AT&T has consistently treated iPhone users as second class citizens on their network. Not allowing iPhone applications to do things that their counterparts on Windows Mobile or Blackberry do. And the whole time, charging us more for the privilege of having less service.
They have announced that they will be adding MMS support for the iPhone in late summer. Nice of them to say that it will be at no extra charge. Tethering support will come and some unspecified time later and will be an extra charge. My guess for the price of tethering is just take the cost for Windows Mobile tethering and add $15.
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