Sunday, June 27, 2010

iPhone 4 First Look

In 2007 Apple changed the smart phone market with the first iPhone. In 2008 they revised the iPhone and rolled out the App Store and developers responded by creating more than 200,000 applications to date. in 2009 the iPhone added video recording, got faster, more memory and a few other new features but nothing earth shattering. Now in 2010 Apple really did redefine the smart phone market again with iPhone 4.

The first thing you notice on the iPhone 4 is the weight of the handset when you first pick it up. The weight feels perfect it is more of a substantial tool than just another phone. The glass and metal looks like art, the feel is solid, and it is very comfortable in your hand.

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The first thing you notice when turning the phone on is the new Retina Display is stunning. The higher resolution and In Plane Switching LED display lights up fast and is very bright even in direct sunlight making it easy to read. The 326 pixels per inch make the pixels so small most people can’t see them and images and text look like laser prints instead of images on a screen. None of the online photos did justice to the clarity of this new display. So far no other smart phone maker is using a screen with this many pixels per inch.

Once you swipe your finger to unlock the phone you get a feel for the speed of the A4 processor and the benefit of putting 512 Megabytes of RAM into the phone. While we didn’t see an expected jump in storage capacity the extra speed makes the phone far more capable than it’s predecessors. Even the 3G and WiFi is faster on this new phone requiring you to wait less time to download information and there is plenty of room for network performance to improve as AT&T upgrades its network.

Pictures and Video are amazing on this phone putting it nearly on par with higher resolution point and shoot cameras. The 5 megapixel sensor using larger pixels making it more sensitive to light takes great photos in lower light conditions and the bright LED flash on the camera helps with even the lowest lighting situations. More megapixels doesn’t always mean better images just bigger files. The camera can also shoot very clear 720p HD video so you can now leave the Flip cameras at home and use your iPhone to shoot, edit and upload videos right from your phone. If you are going to be shooting longer videos you may still want to bring the FlipHD camera along so you don’t use up all of your storage on your phone. With Music, HD Movies, Data, applications, books, PDF’s and Podcasts it seems as though the 32 Gigs of storage goes pretty quick.

The larger battery and more efficient A4 processor has helped the iPhone 4 battery life quiet a bit. Despite the fact I use the phone more and for longer periods of time I can make it through an entire day and not have to recharge the phone. Under very heavy usage on a Friday I got about 15 hours of usage before needing to recharge. Some of that time was a 2.5 hour Plants vs. Zombies marathon. On Saturday I spent a lot of time on the phone and using bluetooth as well as watching videos and showing off the phone to friends and I got another 15 hours of usage and without the gaming marathon the battery still had about 30% charge remaining when I started recharging it. I didn’t get the kind of battery life Engaget described but I had the bluetooth, wifi, 3G all turned on. With a little power management or just recharging while I am in my car or at my desk I don’t think battery life will ever be a problem again for the iPhone.

There has been some controversy surrounding the iPhones new antenna built into the frame of the phone and the talked about iPhone “Death Grip” that supposedly makes you drop calls. First I tested this at home with the bumper case removed from my phone and was unable to duplicate the issue. I live in a neighborhood that is close to an AT&T cell tower and I get 5 bars no matter what I do in the house. If I move to a location where I only have three bars and try this I do see a drop in signal strength but I am not sure if it is because of how I am holding the phone or other factors in the environment that might be influencing the phone. This isn’t a new phenomenon. All cell phones loose reception when you cover the antenna with something that can block signals like your hand or your head. To make sure I don’t have a problem and to protect my phones glass surfaces I opted for the Bumper case and in four days of using my iPhone I haven’t had a dropped call yet which says a lot since that has been a problem with AT&T for many years.

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With iOS 4 on the iPhone we now have multitasking. While for the last couple of years I didn’t think I needed multi-tasking it is again a time saver. Saving the state of the application when I switch to something else and letting me come back right to where I was when I return saves me time in waiting for the application to be ready to go again and doesn’t compromise battery life. Also adding folders allows us to install more applications on our phones without loosing having some applications only available through a spotlight search. Initially the iPhone could support 144 applications. Then iPhone OS 3 came out and we could go up to 176 applications plus the ones that didn’t fit on a screen could be accessed from Spotlight. Now with folders we can have 2,112 applications visible on our phones. Again if you have more than that first of all how do you use them all and second you can find the ones not visible through a folder in Spotlight.

The background images you can choose for your lock screen and your desktop really give you something nice to look at while you are using your phone.

One of the most compelling and phone new features got a lot of ridicule from the tech and blog community when it was first announced and everyone criticized and said “who would want to video conference from your phone?” But now we have Face Time. While you are on a WiFi network you can call another iPhone 4 user and see them face to face and carry on a conversation with that person. It is great to see someone when you are talking to them and over WiFi the video is clear and the audio quality is excellent. You can even switch from the front to the rear camera at the touch of a button to show the caller what you are seeing or press it again so they can see you. The era of the Jetson’s have arrived. While we still don’t have our flying cars we do finally have an easy to use video chat. Apple has submitted Face Time to become an open standard and already relies on other open standard protocols to work. Now Apple needs to make Face Time work not with just iPhone4 but with iChat AV and encourage other vendors like Skype, AIM, Microsoft, and others to adopt Face Time as a standard and use an Open Directory system to allow us to talk with one another.

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The potential for our communication to be revolutionized if anyone, anywhere and see and hear each other anytime, whether we are at our computers on our desks, our laptops in a cafe, or our iPhones at the beach. To be able to look someone in the eye and have a conversation even if they are thousands of miles away is a very powerful tool. Plus when you look our caller in the eye you know they are paying attention and not distracted by one of the many other devices that now vie for our attention in our lives today.

iBooks now runs on iOS4 and on the Retina Display on the iPhone4 it is easy to sit and read a book while having lunch or standing in line. The text is so clear and easy to read even at smaller font sizes it is no problem to look at the screen for long periods. When I got my first Amazon Kindle last year I started reading more because it was easy to carry several books around in a small lightweight device. A year later the iPad was introduced and then I could do far more than just read books and now with the iPhone supporting iBooks I can read anytime anywhere even if I didn’t bring my Kindle or iPad along with me. I can open any electronic book in my library read a few pages and when I get back to my Kindle or iPad they update to the most current page I have read and I can pickup where I left off. Just like with Podcasts, Movies, and AudioBooks on iTunes, iPad, and iPhone.

In short the iPhone4 has revolutionized Smart Phones and mobile communications again and it will likely be sometime before handset manufactures catch up to Apple again. By then who knows what will be coming next but stay tuned and we will find out.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Safari 5


Today we will take a look at the new Safari 5 Web Browser from Apple. It was released on June 7th just hours after the Mac World Developers Conference Keynote had wrapped up. The Safari 5 update is also included in the OS X 10.6.4 update that was released on June 15th.
Safari 5 is not a significant change from Safari 4 only adding a few new features. The first big feature is Safari Reader which allows you to click the Reader button in the address bar to strip out ads and put articles that are spanned across multiple pages on a single page. This is a great feature for users to make large articles more easily readable although I imagine advertisers won’t care for it too much.
Safari 5 has added additional support for HTML5 making it the most HTML5 compliant browser and the only browser that is fully ACID3 compliant. The new Nitro JavaScript Engine makes Safari faster than the previous version. Safari and Google Chrome are close to one another in performance followed by Firefox and of course the slowest of main stream web browsers is Internet Explorer.
Safari has added Bing to the list of browsers you can select for your default search in the toolbar. Smarter searching in the address bar was added so if you type any word that appears in an address or in the title of the site that is in your history or bookmarks it is displayed in a drop down for you to select. Safari has also added a new feature under tabs that allows you to decide if you want to open pages in tabs Always, Automatically or Never. Opening in a tab always or never is pretty self explanatory the Automatically however was a little less clear. According to the Safari Help files the Automatic setting will open all windows in a new tab unless that windows is formatted to open in a separate window.
The biggest feature will take sometime for us to start seeing in the Safari 5. Safari 5 now includes Extensions. The Extensions are signed and Sandboxed to protect your computer data from access and the signatures assure you that the extension came from a specific developer. Apple plans to open a gallery later this summer with developers extensions available for people to customize their browsers.
Currently the functionality is a bit hidden, first you must click Safari, Preferences, Advanced, and check the Show Develop menu in menu bar. Once you have done that click Develop in the menu bar and choose Enable Extensions. Once you have done that the Extensions button appears in the Preferences Pane.
Signing up to be part of the Safari Extension Developers program is free and each developer gets a digital certificate so we can be sure the code hasn’t been tampered with and comes from the developer who signed the code.
A couple other cool new features includes right clicking on the title bar text will give you a look back at the pages you visited in that particular tab and allow you to select one of the previous pages to jump back to it. The other improved feature of Safari is the improved web inspector that now includes timelines. This shows someone who is testing a web page or a developer who is writing a web page when HTML or Java Script is being rendered and how long it takes in a graphical format so you can really see what your pages are doing and what order they are rendering in.
The new version of Webkit 2 hasn’t been included in Safari yet as apparently they do not feel it is ready for prime time yet. It should be coming in the future providing even faster rendering a splitting the webkit process from the web processes to allow faster and more secure execution of code. This is what allows Google Chrome to give each tab its own process and one tab crashing doesn’t impact any of the others.
Overall the new browser is fast, stable and seems to do a good job rendering content. I can’t wait to see what developers come up with in the way of extensions to enhance the Safari browsing experience.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

WWDC 2010 Keynote

Well we have all by now heard the news from Apple about the upcoming iPhone 4 and new iPhone OS now to be known as iOS. I will just give you a quick highlight recap and then talk about what I think is even more interesting. What wasn’t mentioned in this weeks Apple Keynote.
iPad
First Steve made a quick mention of what a huge success iPad has been selling over 2 million units in just 60 days. Now with international shipping underway that number is sure to skyrocket just as fast as Apple can make these fantastic devices. I think John Dvorak is going to loose his bet toLeo Laporte on Apple selling five million iPads in the first year. We will probably make that number in six months.
The iBooks application already has a 22% ebook market share in just the first 8 weeks. Amazon got us excited with the Kindle and whetted the publics appetite for e-books and while I still like and use my Kindle the iPad just does so much more and now that is the device I never leave home without. Now Apple is adding the ability to read PDF’s right in iBooks on our on PDF Bookshelf and giving us the ability to take notes right on our PDF’s and Books as well as bookmarking and highlighting the text. iBooks is ready now to be the killer app for education in the 21st century. Apple has also included wireless syncing of all of our books, PDF’s and our data between iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and I am hoping someday a desktop app which will allow me to consume my content where ever, when ever and how ever I choose.
App Store
In Steve’s speech he mentions that iOS supports two platforms HTML5 and the App Store. HTML5 is a fully open and uncontrolled platform. Anyone can develop anything they like and run it in the Safari browser. The App Store is a curated platform where Apple vets the Applications before they are placed in the store for sale. Apple gets 15,000 apps a week that are submitted in up to 30 languages. According to Apple 95% of apps are approved in 7 days. Steve went on to mention the top three reasons an application doesn’t get approved.
1.) The app doesn’t function as described by the developer
2.) The developer used private API’s which could result in a program failing after a software upgrade
3.) The App Crashes.
Still there are issues with a few apps that get pulled for strange reasons such as the political cartoon application which was rejected for reasons of content and later was put back in the store when the developer appealed the decision. Or the Pulse Application for the iPad that was pulled because The New York Times demanded it be removed for containing copyrighted material. It was taken down, the developer removed the sample RSS feed that pulled New York Times content and the app was back in the store later in the day.
I would like to hear from any developers that read this blog about their experiences submitting to the app store. Both positive and negative to get the perspective of those that deal with the App Store on a regular basis. If I turn it into a follow up column later you will of course be anonymous.
New Apps Coming Soon
Netflix for the iPhone coming this summer for free. Netflix is using adaptive bit rate technology to adjust video quality based on network speed and allow you too seamlessly switch between wifi and 3G.
AT&T capping data will really put a damper on this application. You can stream movies over wifi with no problem but just a few movies on the Pro plan and you could blow your data usage for the month. I have and I am keeping my unlimited data plan for my iPhone which is good for me but with multi-tasking and NPR streaming apps, Pandora streaming apps, and Netflix streaming those that have to spend a lot of time on 3G might find they get unreasonably large bills from AT&T or don’t use the capabilities of their phone for fear of going over their cap. This is just another way AT&T is holding up the progress of technology and failing their customers. I have already gone over that in depth in Is AT&T Business plan to give away all of their customers to the competition?
Zynga is bringing everyones favorite Facebook time waster FarmVille to the iPhone. Now you can work your farm while you are in line at the bank or out at a bar with your friends. Send a friend a gift in FarmVille with them sitting right next to you. Zynga has 35 million players playing games daily and over 70 million players of FarmVille per year. Over 200 million gifts per day are given in FarmVille and will be on the iPhone by the end of June. We are evening getting an option for a tractor and a pet Snow Leopard for iPhone FarmVille players.
Guitar Hero is also coming for the iPhone. The demo may have not done it justice and since I myself have never played Guitar Hero at all I didn’t really understand the game play experience they talked about in the demo.
iMovie is going to be available next month on the iPhone 4 for $4.99 and give users the ability to edit their videos, add transitions, add titles, and edit the audio in your video before uploading it to You Tube, sending it via email, or other uploading options.
iPhone
Neilson Statistics reported that the Smart phone market broke down in the following way:
35%         RIM
28%         iPhone
19%         Windows Mobile
9%                 Android
9%                 Others
For just being around three years now starting on their fourth year to be second only to RIM maker of the Blackberry line of phones is an impressive feat. Particularly given the fact AT&T seems to really be holding Apple back on sales. In a recent report 16% of Verizon customers would buy an iPhone if it were offered on Verizon’s network. That is a huge number of potential customers untapped due to AT&T’s exclusivity deal with Apple to carry the iPhone.
Once the agreement ends and iPhone becomes available on other carriers iPhone could potentially control the smart phone market.
iPhone 4
The new iPhone sports a glass front and back with a stainless steel band around the phone. The new iPhone 4 is 28% thinner than the current 3G and 3Gs iPhone making it the thinnest smartphone on the market. The new glass front and back is made from the same glass that is used in helicopter canopies and high speed train windshields. That with a new process to strengthen the glass is supposed to make it 30 times stronger than plastic. Hopefully that means our phones will not scratch as easily. While my phone screen has never been scratched the plastic back is pretty scratched up from my keys in my pocket and the dock connector in my car.
The new Retina display just couldn’t be fully appreciated on the video. Apple had a special high resolution projector installed for the presentation so people in the audience could see the difference between the old displays and the Retina display. The new Retina display at 326 pixels per inch is such a high resolution display most people can’t differentiate the pixels at 12 inches from the phone. With 4 times the number of pixels and the IPS LED backlit screen on the new phone the screen is sure to look stunning.
With the new A4 chip in the the iPhone the new phone will be faster and more power efficient. With the speed of my iPad I can’t wait to get my hands on the new iPhone 4. While the phone is slimmer they were able to increase the size of the battery to give us about 7 hours of talk time, 6 hours of 3G browsing, 10 hours of wifi, 10 hours of video playback, 40 hours of music or 300 hours of standby.
The antennas are part of the phone structure. The frame of the phone is the stainless steel band around the outside of the phone also serves as the two antennas. One antenna is for the Bluetooth and 802.11n WiFi and the other antenna is is for the cellular and HSDPA which no supports 7.2 Mbps down and 5.8 Mbps up when carriers upgrade to support those speeds.
There was no change in storage capabilities, the iPhone 4 comes with 16 GB or 32 GB of storage. With the explosion of downloaded music, movies, applications and the addition of a higher resolution camera and the ability to record HD video I think extra storage would have been helpful. Hopefully we will get some streaming options in the future for iTunes content we own so we don’t have to store everything on the phone.
The 5 Megapixel backside camera has an LED flash or the LED can be left on for shooting 720p HD video. The sensor is larger so it works better in low light conditions it is also backside illuminated to work better in low light situations. The iPhone software includes a 5x digital zoom and tap to focus in both still and HD video. iPhone 4 also adds Geo location information to the video while it is being recorded so you can remember where you took the video. The travel template also uses Geo location to give you the Indiana Jones sort of intro showing a pin on a map of where the video was shot.
A GPS, Accelerometer, compass and gyroscope for 6 axis motion sensing are available to the new core motion API. This will give the phone more information about where it is in space and make the iPhone more aware of its environment. This is going to be huge for gaming and advertisers will be able to tap into these functions to give users more useful information about the world around the phone.
Apple expects to sell 10’s of millions of iOS devices this year. The iPhone pre-orders start on June 15th and we will be able to pick up our iPhones on June 24th. Apple has dropped the 3G iPhone and moved the 8GB 3GS into the $99.00 spot and added a $199 16 GB and $299 32 GB iPhone in Black or White.
iOS 4
The new iOS 4 has 1500 new API’s for developers and over 100 new user features including multitasking done right. Even Steve pointed out while they were not the first to have multitasking they did it right. Double tap the home button to access the running applications. The apps when they are not in the foreground are saved out to the flash storage. If the application needs to keep some parts running like audio for Pandora Radio is controlled by Core Audio when the application interface is in the background. This way you get multitasking without sacrificing battery life. Part of these new API’s include a right swipe gesture on any app to reveal the audio controls for which ever app is sending audio to your headphones and allow you to fast forward, rewind, play, pause, or adjust volume.
With the explosion of applications and the ability to display 16 apps on a screen and 11 screens for a maximum number of displayable apps of 176 apps that just isn’t enough for the modern iPhone. So now we have folders. Simply drag an app onto another app and it will automatically name it the same name as the genre of application it is and you have a folder. You are free to rename the folder or add more applications if you like. Now we can have thousands of applications available on our iPhones.
Unified Inbox now gives us the ability to look at multiple inboxes at the same time. So we don’t have to swipe back and forth between our personal and business email accounts we can manage our digital lives in just one inbox just like on the Mac. To help keep everything organized they have also added message threading so you can keep track of a specific conversation. In keeping with the big business theme iOS 4 also includes better enterprise integration, better data protection, improved mobile device management, wireless application distribution, SSL VPN, support for multiple exchange accounts, and support for multiple search engines, now Google, Yahoo and Bing are options in iOS 4.

FaceTime is what is going to make the iPhone the must have device. Realtime video conferencing on the iPhone with a few initial caveats. iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 only and only works where there is WiFi in 2010. The good news is no setup required, works in portrait or landscape mode and can use the front or rear camera. Apple has already announced they are submitting FaceTime as an Open standard so that other phone manufactures and other software companies can opt to use it. I can see a world in the next two years where we can make video calls to iChat users, Skype Users, Android Phone users, Cisco Video Phone users and even Microsoft Live users and be able to have a face to face chat. Even the applications for the deaf are going to be astounding. The iOS upgrade will be available June 21st and will be free for all iPhone 3G, iPhone 3Gs, iPod Touch 2nd generation and newer, devices for free.
Accessories
Apple will be offering a new iPhone dock for $29.00 not any different from the 3G dock just shaped to hold the iPhone 4. Apple is also attempting their own case for the iPhone called bumpers and it wraps around the phone and come in five colors. Front and back are open to show off the iPhone 4.
What wasn’t said
Almost as interesting as what was covered in the two hour keynote is what wasn’t covered. No announcement of iPhone being opened to other carriers in the US. I remain convinced that will happen in the near future. That is why I think AT&T increased there early termination fees from $175 to $350. AT&T caping bandwidth, charging premiums and providing substandard voice services are pushing customers to want to move to other networks and keeping some people from buying iPhones in the first place.
Also Apple didn’t announce a new MacBook Air, Mac Pro, or iMac all of which were do for a refresh. There were also mentions of a new Apple TV which didn’t materialize and no mention of what the data center in North Carolina is being built for. Apple promised some big announcements this year right after announcing the iPad. Also conspicuously missing at the Developers Conference was any mentions of OS X 10.7. If Apple holds to their release schedule we should have an updated OS available between February 2011 and August 2011. So probably Apple will hold that announcement back for the next developers conference and give developers time to update applications prior to the release of 10.7. It would still be nice to see what they have planned. I expected there to be more announcements at the developers conference than we got.
Apple has the Moscone Center booked again later in the month, perhaps Apple has more announcements planned this year keeping them front and center in the news. January we had MacWorld, in February Apple announced the iPad, April and May the iPad is released with a lot of media coverage. Now June we have the iPhone 4 being released which will surely be heavily covered by the media. I am sure Apple will have more announcement this year that will keep them front and center in the public eye through 2010 easily.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Steam Review on the Mac

Game company Valve makers of Team Fortress, Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, Portal and other hit video games has now ported their Steam Game engine to the Mac. Now OS X has parity with Windows as a gaming platform. One of the biggest criticism of the Mac over the last ten years has been lack of availability of games and applications.
When Valve released the engine in late May they also offered Portal as a free download to new Mac Steam users. It is a compelling first person puzzle game that you can loose hours and hours playing. The Graphics cards and processors on modern Mac laptops rival that of PC desktop machines and now Mac users have access to all of the games PC users have access.
Playing a game on my Macbook Pro I got a warning using the Mobile Graphics card that I could get better performance by switching Graphics from Better battery life to Higher Performance in the Energy Saver System Preference Pane. I ran the game in both modes and at least in the case of Portal couldn’t tell a difference. Other more graphically intense games may benefit from using the performance graphic cards on Macbook Pros.
The innovative element of the Steam Engine is a new user who downloads the engine and creates a new user account can buy video games online and download them to their Mac or PC. Steam has positioned themselves to be the Apple App Store of Video games and with now being available on both the Mac and PC is available on 95% of the worlds desktops. The states of most games are saved on your local machine and uploaded to Steam servers so you can pickup the game where you left off on any other computers you have logged into with your Steam Account.
Now video games are totally portable between Mac and PC as well as playable equally well on both platforms. As of this writing Steam is still porting games over from PC to Mac. They have committed to releasing all new titles simultaneously going forward and are quickly going back through the catalog to port older games to the Mac as well.
Valve has also integrated a social aspect into their games, while some are Online Multi-player or MMO type games the Steam system also allows for social gaming. Find friends online and display your accomplishments in single player games online. You can se my profile here http://steamcommunity.com/id/paulmacguyscott My friends can see when I signed in what my rating is in Steam and how much time I have spent playing. You can also look at individual games and see what achievements you have earned and how you compare with other players of the game. So now a single player game isn’t even a solitary event anymore but a challenge to be shared by friends.
This is a great year for those of us who couldn’t figure out ways to waste more time with our electronic devices. Between the casual games on our iPads and iPhones and now the more attention focused library of games available on our Macs there is no end to the hours of time we can spend solving puzzles and being entertained instead of getting actual work done. That is fine we all need a little distraction now and then.
I personally am not a big gamer but the convenience of being able to login to Steam and download a full featured in depth video game is really attractive and might encourage me to check out a few more games as the show up in the Steam Store.
For those that may not be gamers but into writing games Valve is making the SteamWorks available for developers to write their own games and sell them through the Valve Store. So if you have ideas for a game and know how to write a game you can build your game and submit it to the Valve Store for sale.
With over 25 million gamers already active on Steam that is a huge market for a small game maker to tap into and with the Power of the Mac platform a great way to get into the gaming world. Steamworks if a free download and has no licensing fees and no charge for bandwidth. You distribute your game on your terms and your schedule. Once you have written your game or part of it you submit it to Valve for them do decide if they want to distribute the game. Pricing models, charges, and splits and negotiated privately at that time and is not made public.
Regardless this has a lot of potential to give indie developers a shot at writing hit video games. Now you don’t have to be part of a big studio to get your game out there and now it can run on Mac or PC and you can develop on Mac or PC.
Steam is going to have a huge success on their hands as Mac users tend to purchase more software than their PC counter parts especially when it is a quality software. As for me I can hear Portal calling my name to finish the game I only have one more level to go.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Is AT&T Business Plan to give away all of their customers to the competition?

Well let’s be honest. iPhone owners really didn’t have unlimited Internet access to being with. In the small print AT&T Unlimited is really a 5 Gigabyte per month service. Last time I checked that was far from Unlimited but for most users they would never hit that limit.

Over the last seven months my average data usage was 266 MB and Mom’s average data usage is just 131 MB a month. Most of the time we are in the range of WiFi That isn’t a huge amount of data. To hear AT&T tell the story they are being overwhelmed with all of the data usage. If we had tethering which Apple started offering on iPhone last year I would optimistically say it would probably double my Internet usage to a whopping 532 MB for me and 262 GB for Mom. As a family that puts us under 1 GB of data a month. In a recent Mac Observer poll it seems as most iPhone poll respondents are 1GB or under per month in their data usage.

So AT&T wants to take the unlimited plan we currently pay $60.00 a month for data (2 iPhones) with a 200 MB plan for $30.00 a month ($15.00 per phone) or 2 GB for $50.00 a month ($25.00) per phone. While cutting our unlimited plan is annoying I could live with a small reduction in Internet prices for my phone but if I want to add tethering to our phones it will be another $20.00 per phone. So AT&T’s method of saving me money is really going to cost me an extra $40.00 a month. Not only can they not run a successful cellular network with a handset that virtually sells itself but basic math seems to escape them as well. I only save money if I use less of the service and forgo tethering we were promised over a year ago. News Flash AT&T I can save money from the power company by not turning the lights on too. That doesn’t mean I want to live in the dark. I should be able to use my service I pay for when I want to and not worry about overages.

So the press release that advertises lower priced data plans will actually cost me $30.00 a month more for 6 GB a month less data. How is this saving me money? Is AT&T trying to give away business to competition. Scott Bourne from Mac Break Weekly announced on his blog today he is giving up his iPhone and going to Droid. Not because he likes the Droid better but he just hates AT&T that much. 

Listening to This Week In Tech with Leo Laporte or really any other tech show that talks about the iPhone AT&T is always being dogged for poor network performance, poor voice quality, frequent dropped calls, and poor customer service. I defended AT&T for a time because I really liked my iPhone and in most areas I visited I had pretty good coverage but still many dropped calls.

Now AT&T just can’t be defended. It is time for Ralph de la Vega President and CEO of Mobility and Consumer Markets should be fired by his board. AT&T has totally failed to capitalize on one of the best handsets to be released in the US in the history of mobile communications by delaying MMS rollout, failing to build out the network faster to support the iPhone and working harder to make service better. AT&T is doing their best to destroy the Golden Eggs Apple has laid at their feet.

This announcement also came on the heels of AT&T announcing they are increasing cancelation fees from $175.00 to $325.00 for early contract termination. Nothing like a little indentured servitude to your cell provider to really make you resent them and look forward to the end of a contract and inform them where they can stick their “services”.

AT&T is just short of showing open contempt for their customers. Why don’t they just roll out a new slogan replace “Your World Connected” with “We are not happy until you are not happy” or possibly “ Your World Connected with lot’s of extra fees and overage costs.”

It is time that all AT&T customers and iPhone users publicly speak out against AT&T and let them know that while we iPhone lovers love our iPhones we will not tolerate a co-dependent relationship with an abusive provider.

 Apple needs to step up and announce formally new carriers. A recent poll indicated 16% of Verizon’s 10 million plus subscribers would be interested in switching to the iPhone. How many users would love to move to TMobile with an iPhone? Better customer service and a family plan with unlimited talk, text, and web for $139.00. I would drop AT&T in a heartbeat and not have to think twice about it.

This cheaper data plan is solely designed to discourage users from using the network and increase revenue by creating overages when iPhone users use more data than they planned on. Also forcing us into a capped plan if we want to tether our phones. iPhone tethering has been a feature of the iPhone since 3.0 was released a year ago and is used by iPhone users the world over except for those on AT&T in the US.

According to iPhone Buzz one AT&T customer got a cease and desist order for emailing the company CEO twice. Of course we don’t know the content of that email was, undoubtedly it was complaining about AT&T business practices. Instead of reevaluating AT&T responded with lawyers. Way to serve your customers! How about giving back your salary to the company now as a favor to the share holders you seem so desperate to wipe out their investments in your company.

It is time AT&T stops holding Apple and customers back from using our devices the way we want to use them. It is time AT&T comes forward and announces how they plan to beef up the voice network and increase coverage while at the same time making their pricing more competitive with T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint. Perhaps AT&T has told us how they are going to accomplish the first task. Make is so inconvenient to use their customers will just go away and stop bothering them. As for the second part they don’t need to be competitively priced the competition is already cheaper so I guess they plan to give away more customers.

In the next couple of years as iPhone comes to other US carriers I think we will look back on this and say this was the day when AT&T CEO of Mobility and Consumer Markets Ralph de la Vega doomed his company. Hopefully the AT&T board of directors will act on behalf of share holders and customers and turn this mess around before AT&T becomes the third rate carrier we always new they could be. Way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory AT&T.