Browse Tag: cellular

Pandora, Windows Mobile and AT&T

Last week wrapped up with Pandora announcing the release of Windows Mobile client. Everybody cheered – but for less than a day. As it turned out, there’s always a fly in the ointment. The cost of fun is $8.99 per month in addition to any data plan you already have. Even if it’s an unlimited one, like mine.

Outraged just like anyone else, I immediately shot off an e-mail to Pandora’s support.

Hello,
I am a very dedicated Pandora listener. Aside from enjoying Pandora from my desktop I had encouraged a number of people to try Pandora for iPhone – every time with huge success.

Now, I myself is not an iPhone user – for number of reasons I cannot use iPhone for everyday tasks. It doesn’t mean I have extra money in my pocket, it just means that I use devices that benefit me the most.

When I have heard about the discriminatory policy that Windows mobile users must she’ll out extra money for same service everyone else enjoys for free I felt somewhat betrayed. Definitely upset. Outraged.

However, before jumping to any decisions, I’d like to hear from you the reasons behind such discrimination and, if there are any plans to rectify the situation.

Surprisingly, just a few hours later (that is – 3AM Friday night) I got a response.

Thanks for writing us, and thanks for recommending Pandora on the iPhone to your friends! We were very happy Apple allowed us to offer Pandora for free.

Getting a mobile device to support Pandora is, to a very large degree, up to our potential cellular and platform partners.

Currently there are four WinMo devices which, just like the iPhone, support Pandora for free (advertising-supported). Two on Sprint, and two on Verizon.

We’re very happy we were able to work with these partners to reach this agreement.

It’s up to other carriers how to set the pricing and availability of our service on their network and associated devices.

Best wishes,
–Ian
Pandora Listener Support

If all the above is true it means that AT&T effectively taxing everyone who’s not an iPhone user for using data plan they already paying for. Why this is happening – because AT&T thinks they’ve got it all and can get away with anything they want or because of some other reason – I don’t know. There’s a thread on AT&T’s forums, but no official response has been issued yet.

Pandora’s blog has it this way (in response to comments of disappointed users):

…we share your desire to see Pandora be made available for free on our AT&T implementations. In the mobile world, the carrier has all of the pricing power. If you try to go around their wishes they can, and will, block traffic to your application. Our strong preference is for Pandora to be available ad-supported free everywhere and we’ll continue to work with AT&T in the hopes that they’ll come around to the same view for the Windows Mobile phones on their network.

On the other hand, the Pandora application is available from PPCGeeks forum. I swapped SIM card from AT&T Tilt into Samsung Blackjack and testing the app right now. So far the quality is decent (close to FM radio) (as I am sitting home within stable 3G zone) and delay between songs (while the buffering occurs) is acceptable.

In any case, there remains less and less competition in mobile markets and providers are pulling all sorts of unfair deals knowing that customers will either eat it or not, but there’s really no serious alternative between AT&T and Verizon (Sprint and T-Mobile are really not in the same field).

Retire Your iPod

Retire Your iPod - Small Business, Marketing and Web Design BlogThere’s a little incentive these days to own an iPod, let alone any other mp3 player. For those crazy about any product Apple releases there’s an iPhone that’s just as good as an iPod plus you can call your friends when you’re not listening to music. If you own any other smart phone device (or PDA phone) than their memory – whether built-in or expandable, like memory cards, is all yours to store your tunes. There’s little – if any – reason to own any mp3 player.

As always, Apple got there first, although many people have been using PDA phone as my ultimate media player couple of years before that. Video looked just as good and you didn’t have to pay for each and every ringtone. But you’d have to use Windows Mobile for that, which is, of course, unacceptable for Apple fans. Admittedly, devices didn’t look half as sexy as iPhone.

But even since early Sony’s attempts to introduce Sony Phone Walkman (I think I have one laying around somewhere given to me by some friend) the idea of merging multimedia device and phone was in the air. As we progress in faster cellular networks, faster mobile processors and better screens (i.e. better video quality) eventually we will see a single device that’s capable of playing stored media files (video, audio), streaming from various sources, like XM satellite radio, YouTube (and its clones), various streaming services like Last.fm and Pandora. The device will be capable of taking down your notes and synchronizing with almost any popular calendar and contact application out there (including online services, like Google Calendar, Yahoo and MSN). Apparently e-mail and web browsing capabilities already in place, they’ll just be more robust and less cumbersome. That includes sync with corporate e-mail services (Exchange, Domino) as well.

The way this future device (or rather a group of devices) will greatly vary depending on the target market. For example, for hip young crowd the device will probably look overly stylish, hyper sleek, uber sexy and totally overpriced. For corporate employees it’s going to be some sort of cross between Blackberry and something that looks nice. For geeks it’ll probably either look like a HTC Shift with a twist and a handle.

Overall, the idea that you will have a unified multimedia device with phone capabilities is upon the big corps like Nokia, HTC, Sony and others. Let’s just hope they finally hire some decent designers and the next wave of such devices won’t look like Blackberry on steroids.

Small business travel

Don’t know about the rest of the crowd, but my budget is really limited when it comes to travel – be it vacation or business travel. Unlike some big-name CEOs I can’t afford business class (let alone a private jet), so I travel just like most of the Americans – the cheapo way.While traveling to Chicago and back, I refreshed on usual travel things. Like purchasing tickets for early morning flight, avoiding weekends (I flew on Wednesday to Chicago and on Monday back) and packing lightly (you can have up to three luggage pieces for free, but each must be less then 50 lbs. For me it would have been easier to pack one large suitcase then two small, but…

Another thing I figured out is how NOT to rent a car. On the spot, even if you have a reservation, agent will try to upsell you stating that they don’t have the car you reserved. In my case instead of Dodge Charger the company’s (Dollar Car if you’re interested) representative stated that the only car they have in the same class would be Dodge Caravan. How are they in the same class beats me, but I ended up renting Chrysler 300 which was good enough for my purposes. Next time I’ll skip online reservation altogether and just show up at their desk inquiring as to what they have. If I don’t like the selection – I’ll just move on to the next desk. In Chicago Midway airport (another saver on ticket price) all rentals’ desks conveniently form a single line, so it won’t be a big deal with two bags under 50 lbs each.

Hotels are finally catching up to the 21st century. Last year, when I was in Arizona, Hilton hotel wanted $25/day for high-speed broadband. One year later, on this trip to Chicago, I stayed in two hotels (how that happened – long story) – La Quinta in Arlington Heights and Holiday Inn. Both feature free wireless internet, no problems and no strings. Of course you have to jump through couple of screens and maybe enter the access code (listed on a special note in your room), but other then that everything worked smoothly. I even didn’t have to pull out my cell phones (I brought both AT&T and Verizon devices, just in case) to use as a cellular modem.

On the road I used my Garmin nuvi 360 GPS unit with firmware updated to version 3.90 (was actual as of the first day when I arrived in Chicago). Except for one total failure to deliver me to Olive Garden somewhere close to airport (almost ended up in someone’s backyard) the thing worked fine, much better and faster then Google Maps on my HTC Advantage.

Last thing I’d like to mention is the airlines (again). If the current trend is any indication – in next several years seat space will decrease even more (I guess we all be standing on short flights), the weight of allowed luggage will also decrease and there will be almost no room for carry-ons in cabin, so we will only be allowed one personal item (like laptop). But they will be banned for security reasons.