Dale Dietrich
friedman: always supply your comparative advantage
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Netflix Launches in Canada–With the Cupboards Bare

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This week, Netflix launched its long awaited and much coveted Netflix Canada service. Unfortunately, the content selection cupboard is mostly bare.

The limited offerings (and lack of DVD service) explains the $7.99 Cdn per month price. The minimum monthly fee that Americans pay for their Netflix service is $9.95 U.S.. For that they get a DVD-by-mail service and a substantially broader array of on-demand offerings.

Limited Launch Offerings:

Browsing through their movie and TV offerings, it appears that there are only about 100 older movies available – too many of which are third-rate movies. There are no new movie offerings.

There are only 18 TV series available at launch, with Heroes seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4 constituting four of the 18.  Mad Men seasons 1, 2 and 3, but not any of the current Season 4, make up another three of the 18. Several of the available TV series I’ve never heard of (Hoarders, Paranormal State, The Boondocks, Drop Dead Diva?). Aside from Heroes and Mad Men, there are no other past or present broadcast or cable network prime-time hit TV series available at all.

Happily, the service is not chock-a-bloc full of the made-in-Canada TV content that riddle the Canadian versions of the Apple TV & Xbox 360 on-demand services. In fact, there isn’t a single made-in-Canada movie or TV show available through the service.

CONTINUE READING →

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iOS 4.0.1 Fixes iPhone 3G Performance Problems Somewhat

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Since upgrading to iOS 4 a couple months back my iPhone 3G has ran as slow as molasses. So frustratingly slow that I have been considering replacing it with an Android (though Android handset choices in Canada are few).

Today iOS 4.0.1 was released. As you can see below it purports to include iPhone 3G performance fixes.

iOS4 update

After futzing around with my updated iPhone 3G for an  hour I can report that the update has fixed the problem somewhat. Apps do start and function quicker than they have recently. But the device and its apps still run noticeably slower than pre-iOS4.

I’m still considering an Android but, for the time being,  am unlikely to completely abandon the iPhone. I’m  hoping future iOS updates continue to fix 3G performance issues. But, I’m not holding my breath.

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New iOS 4 (formerly iPhone OS) Features

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iOS 4 on iPhone 4 devices As with the rest of the world, I have upgraded to iOS 4. Straight from the update install screen itself, below is the list of new features included in this update.

See Also: TiPb’s terrific iOS4 Walkthrough.

* Requires iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPod touch 3rd generation
** Requires iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, or iPhone 4

Be Warned: Downloading and installing the update takes awhile. It took iTunes and my 16 GB iPhone well over an hour to be updated.

—–

This update contains over 100 new features, including the following:

• Multitasking support for third-party apps*
  – Multitasking user interface to quickly move between
     apps
  – Support for audio apps to play in the background
  – VoIP apps can receive and maintain calls in the
     background or when device is asleep
  – Apps can monitor location and take action while
     running in the background
  – Alerts and messages can be pushed to apps using
     push and local notifications
  – Apps can complete tasks in the background
• Folders to better organize and access apps
• Home screen Wallpaper*

CONTINUE READING →

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OnLive Video Game System & Business Model Presentation to Columbia University

Categories: industryvideo games
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onlive logoIn this terrific presentation, Steve Perlman, OnLive’s founder, both demos the OnLive online, video-game system and discusses their business model. This is the most complete discussion of the OnLive system and business model I’ve seen yet – complete with a compelling demo of games being played  on a laptop, the OnLive micro console and on an iPhone. 

Part 1 – OnLive Company & System Background

In part 1, Perlman gives a basic introduction to the OnLive system, discusses his history with Apple and the technical limitations (compression/latency) that OnLive had to overcome to make their system work.

CONTINUE READING →

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How to Stop iTunes from Starting the Auto Picture Sync Wizard when the iPhone is Connected to a PC

Categories: gadgetshow-tointeractive mediaiPhoneresolving tech problemsvistawindows 7
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Since purchasing my iPhone back in August 2008, every time I connected my iPhone to my PC (originally Vista, now Windows 7 RC), iTunes would automatically start the Windows ‘Import Pictures and Videos’ wizard (“IPVW”), regardless of whether or not there were any new pictures on my iPhone to import.

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Since I connect my iPhone to iTunes every day (to update my podcasts, backup data, install new apps etc.), I had to cancel out of the IPVW every time I connected. This was a daily frustration!

Along the line I had collected up some 30ish pictures in my iPhone’s ‘camera roll’ for the following reasons:

  1. Originally, I had not set the ‘delete from iPhone when importing’ option in the IPVW, so those pictures remained on the camera roll even after syncing; and
  2. For some good pictures, I just wanted to keep a copy on my iPhone for viewing.

Strangely, there is no way to move  pictures from the iPhone’s ‘camera roll’ to an album in the iPhone’s native Photos app.

Most of the time I want pictures to be copied off my iPhone when I sync. As a result I had set the IPVW’s Import settings (see link in picture above) accordingly. To my mind, the iPhone should only automatically pop-up the IPVW when there are new pictures that a user might want copied over to the PC. That is not how it works.

CONTINUE READING →

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How to Get U.S.-only iPhone Apps with Hotspot Shield

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hotspot shield logo With a few easy steps that take only minutes to complete, iPhone users the world round can get access to some (but not all) of the iPhone Apps that are only available in the U.S.. I’m surprised it took me so long to try this.  I just used it to d0wnload the Lose It! which was previously not available to me in Canada.

[Note: Rogers is somehow still blocking Pandora and Skype even when I removed the SIM  card. Grrr! Here’s a Skype iPhone App workaround for Canadians – I haven’t tried it yet.]

configuring a vpn on the iphone with hotspot shield Setup is a breeze. It took me about two minutes. You essentially set up a VPN connection to the U.S. through the HotSpot Shield servers. This, of course, would also be useful for safe surfing at coffee shops and other wifi locations.

Once you have set up your account, configured and activated the VPN (see instructions below), navigate to the App Store on your iPhone. Search for the app you want and (if its there) download it. It’s that simple.

Survives Desktop Sync

I was concerned that if I downloaded apps this way, they would be wiped out after I synced my iPhone with iTunes to my desktop. Not so. The sync went fine and the apps remained on the iPhone.

No Need to Keep VPN Turned On

You only need to activate the VPN to download the app. Once downloaded, you can use the app with the VPN shut off.

CONTINUE READING →

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New iPhone 3G S Announced – Available June 19

Categories: gadgetsinteractive mediaiPhone
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  • $199 for 16 GB in U.S. – $299 for 32GB version (on contract of course)
    • pricing only available to new AT&T customers
    • $700 Upgrade fee for current AT&T iPhone users
    • [June 10 Update: Rogers has announced that Canadian pricing will be the same as U.S. pricing – in Cdn $. So, $199 and $299 Cdn for the 16 and 32 GB units respectively. Only available on 3 year contracts again. No pricing for un-subbed units announced – un-subbed 3G iPhones still cannot be purchased in Canada. 8-GB, 3G Units will be decreased to $99. No word on 16GB units]
  • Available June 19 (U.S. & Canada)
  • $99 for prior 16 GB iPhone
  • “up to” two times Faster
  • Voice Control:
    • voice dialing
    • ask iPhone what song is playing and it will tell you
    • tell iPhone to play a song, or songs by an artist or a playlist and it will play it
    • developers can integrate into any app

image

CONTINUE READING →

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How to Listen to Video Podcasts with the iPhone Display Turned Off

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diggnation podcast - alex albrecht and kevin rose
While listening to audio-only podcasts, iPhone users can press the ‘Sleep/Wake’ button to turn off the display, yet still continue listening to the podcast. iPhone users can also click the iPhone’s ‘Start’ button when listening to audio podcasts, use other iPhone apps, and continue listening to the podcast uninterrupted.

Not so with video podcasts. Clicking the ‘Sleep/Wake’ button, or clicking the iPhone’s start button shuts video podcasts off. The inability to just listen to video podcasts has been one of my primary complaints with the iPhone’s iPod functionality. See my other major complaints here and here.

Why Would Anyone Want to Just Listen to a Video Podcast?

All video podcasts are not created equal. Some video podcasts such as CO-OP, demand that the user ‘watch’ them to get the most out of them. Other podcasts , such as the ‘Cranky Geeks’, Geek Brief TV and Diggnation can usually be enjoyed without ever looking at the screen.

There are several reasons why one might wish to consume a video podcast with the visual element shut off:

  • While Using other IPhone Apps: Since I can, and often do, use other iPhone/iTouch apps while listening to audio podcasts, I sometimes just want/need to just listen to video podcasts while using other apps. Why not?
  • Increased battery life: Video playback consumes an enormous amount of battery charge. If you don’t need to watch the video to enjoy it, why waste the battery?
  • Putting iPhone in Pocket: I often put my iPhone in my pocket while listening to podcasts. When the iPhone screen cannot be shut off, this becomes a bit clumsy. The act of putting it in my pocket (or taking it out) often results in unwanted screen clicks that can shut the podcast off, fast forward it, pause it etc.
  • While Driving: Who needs the video on while driving?

Bottom Line: Hardly a day has gone by since I purchased my iPhone last August, when I didn’t wish I could turn off the screen and still listen to my video podcasts.

Turns out that there has been a way to do this all along. It took me 8 months before I stumbled upon this trick.

CONTINUE READING →

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Variable Speed Scrubbing (Fast Forwarding – Rewinding) Coming to iPhone 3.0

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variable speed scrubbing on iPhone 3.0

Next to my ongoing desire for a podcast delete function, the next-most glaring problem I have had with the iPhone and iPod Touch’s iPod playback functionality is its janky fast-forwarding and rewinding (also known as ‘scrubbing’).

The two most common scrubbing issues I have with my iPhone are when I want: (i) to skip back , say 10 seconds, to re-listen to something i missed – like I can with TiVo’s instant replay button; and (ii) to jump forward past podcast commercials – I can only listen to so many Audible ads on the Twit Network.

scrubbing with scroll wheel on an iPod nano Scrubbing with the scroll wheel on iPods is a breeze. (See this ‘How to Scrub on Your iPod’ video, depicted in the picture on the right, for example.) You can easily jump back and forth to the exact desired spot within the song, podcast or video you are consuming by moving your thumb clockwise or counterclockwise on the scroll wheel as shown in the picture.

There is no scroll wheel on the iPhone or the iPod Touch. Instead, there is tiny round selector (see image above) on a small 1.25” horizontal scroll bar that you slide left and right to move around your media. This provides decent accuracy for short items such as a 3 minute song. For longer-form content, such as multi-hour podcasts and movies, the 1.25” scroll bar is too small to accurately select any given point of play. I personally consume long-form content the most. Such clumsy scrubbing has often left me 5 to 10 minutes away from the place I want to be.

The solution, variable speed scrubbing.

CONTINUE READING →

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Bell & Telus Announce Canada-wide HSPA/GSM Network Starting 2010

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bell logo  telus logo

Bell and Telus have announced the joint development of a long-rumoured, fast, nation-wide, HSPA wireless network to begin service as early as 2010.

In the near term, the network will support both existing CDMA mobile handsets used by current Bell and Telus customers, plus GSM–based handsets.  GSM is the global standard currently used by Rogers in support of the iPhone, among other mobile devices.

Over the longer term, this 4G network could ramp Canadian wireless download speeds to as fast as 100 Mbps. Current Canadian 3G networks have 7 Mbps maximum download speeds.

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How to Sync ‘Work’ and ‘Home’ Email Addresses Between the iPhone and Outlook 2007 – Error Free

Categories: cloud computinghow-toiPhonesoftware
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iPhone to Outlook Contact Sync ExampleWhen adding contacts into each of the iPhone and Outlook 2007, there are built-in, distinct ‘home’, ‘work’/’business’ and ‘mobile’ telephone number fields. Yet, surprisingly, Outlook 2007 does not provide built-in, discreet ‘home’, ‘work’ or ‘other’ email address fields. Yet, the iPhone does!

As a result of this disparity, you can get very odd results when synchronizing your iPhone and Outlook 2007 contacts. Unless you are aware of, and properly handling, how the syncing works, it will seem as if the iPhone randomly categorizes email addresses originating from Outlook 2007 as either ‘home’, ‘work’ or ‘other’.

Happily, as described below, the Outlook and iPhone email fields do sync in a predictable way. With little effort, you can make sure that ‘home’, ‘work’ and ‘other’ email address fields are properly synched between Outlook 2007 and your iPhone.

The Problem

As you can see from the picture below (after the break), when adding new contacts in Outlook 2007, there are no built-in, discreet ‘home’, ‘work’, ‘business’ or ‘other’ email address fields. The only choice you have is the default non-numbered ‘E-mail…’ field, and the ‘E-mail 2’, and ‘E-mail 3’ fields (available from the pull-down menu).

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iPhone’s iPod Touch Features NOT Bricked with SIM Removed

Categories: canadagadgetsinteractive mediaiPhone
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removing sim from iphone Back when I was doing my Rogers iPhone research, see here, I asked numerous representatives from Rogers (both on the phone and at the Rogers store) whether I would be able to use my iPhone as an iPod Touch-like device if/when I cancelled my iPhone service. The uniform answer was no! – that the iPhone would be bricked (wouldn’t even turn on beyond a warning screen) if I removed the SIM card.

Two months after purchasing my iPhone I set out to finally transfer all of my remaining contacts from my old Nokia phone to the iPhone. This required me to remove the SIM from my iPhone and put it back into my Nokia phone (the Nokia would not turn on without the SIM). In doing so, I tested Rogers’ theory that the iPhone would be completely bricked with the SIM removed. I discovered this was untrue.

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iPhone App Development – Where to Start

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iPhone App Development - Harder Than You'd Think

[October 4, 2012 Update]

On September 27, 2012, Apple accepted my first app, Fine Tip – Tip Calculator (buy it here, read about it here) into the app store. For reasons I won’t get into, I abandoned iPhone app development back in the fall of 2009. In August 2012, I took up the torch again. Within one month I was able to complete my first app.

Much has changed in three years. While most of what I wrote below still stands, ignore the book recommendations below. Instead, I strongly urge you to buy the two books below. Had they existed three years ago, I would have been able to develop my first app much quicker. I purchased them in August 2012 and had my first app done in less than a month:

[End October 4, 2012 Update]

[Original Post Last Updated: April 2009]

How hard could it be, I asked myself. I’ve developed my own applications in Basic and C. I can configure an Apache Server, install and use PHP, MySQL and other server apps. I develop and maintain websites and blogs from my home server. Over the last 15 years I’ve taught myself HTML, PHP, MySQL, CSS and the basics of Java. How hard could it be to develop a small application for the iPhone?

Let’s step back for a moment.

I have a very particular program in mind that I’ve wanted for years. It’s a very simple program – perfect for the iPhone (more on that in future posts). I could whip it up in C or PHP in about a day. I’ve never owned, or even used, an Apple computer of any kind in my some 27ish years of computing. I regard the iPhone App Store as a revolutionary new idea that pries control of mobile device apps from the big-bad telco giants and puts it in the hands of average consumers and developers — where it belongs. I see cloud computing as a very important part of our collective computing future. I want to get in on the ground floor. If my first simple program works out, I want to develop an iPhone app to work with my wishhh.com service. After that, who knows.

So, in August 2008 I registered to to join Apple’s standard developer programpurchased a Mac Mini (subsequently replaced it with an iMac) and set out to develop my first portable application for use on the iPhone.

Minimum Hardware

To develop for the iPhone you will need an Intel-based Mac running Leopard (OS X 10.5.3 or later). Any Mac released since 2006, laptop or desktop, should work.

Piece of Cake for Mac Cocoa Developers

If you have a solid grounding in Cocoa development (Apple’s Objective-C framework) with the xCode development on the Mac platform, developing iPhone Apps should be a breeze. Not so much for the rest of us.

Learning Curve for the Rest of Us

Below is a discussion of the  hurdles I have had to overcome and the online resources I’ve found useful in my bid to become the newest iPhone App developer:

CONTINUE READING →

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iPhone Firmware 2.1 Promises

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iPhone 2.1 Software Update

I’m updating my 3G iPhone Software as I type this.  The installation screen above is promising the following improvements. I for one am looking forward to the “significantly improved battery life” – my only real issue with the iPhone 3G hardware.

iPhone 2.1 Software Update

iPhone version 2.1 contains many bug fixes and improvements, including the following:

  • decrease in call set-up failures and call drops
  • significantly improved battery life for most users
  • dramatically reduced time to backup to iTunes
  • improved email reliability, notably fetching email from POP and Exchange accounts
  • faster installation of 3rd party applications
  • fixed bugs causing hangs and crashes if you have lots of 3rd party applications
  • improved performance in text messaging
  • faster loading and searching of contacts
  • improved accuracy of the 3G signal strength display
  • repeat alert up to two additional times for incoming text messages
  • option to wipe data after ten failed passcode attempts
  • Genius playlist creation

I’ll update this after I’ve had a chance to test.

[Sept 17, 2009 Update: I've now had a few days to test and the battery life does seem to have improved. But not by as much as I first thought. My subjective guess would be that the battery is lasting about 10% to 15% longer than it has before the 2.1 firmware update.]

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I Traded-Up to an iMac

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iMac with Leopard and iPhone SDK

I took advantage of the Apple Store’s 14 day return policy and traded up to a 20" iMac ($1,299 Cdn).  I returned the Mac Mini that I purchased two weeks ago.

I’m using the Mac as an iPhone App development platform. The Mac Mini just wasn’t quite enough for my needs.

Extended Desktop

Mac Mini with Red XThe Mac Mini was gorgeous on, and took full advantage of, the 1920 x 1200 screen resolution of one of my 24" Dell monitors. But, you cannot extend the Leopard desktop to a a second monitor with a Mac Mini.

[Update March 3, 2009: The new Mac Mini that came out in the beginning of March 2009 supports dual monitor setups with a Mini DVI port and Mini DisplayPort on the back.  With this change it now makes the Mac Mini more suitable for iPhone development. Here are the full new Mac Mini specs.]

I am used to having my Vista desktop extended across four monitors. Having just one monitor on the Mac Mini (even a 24" monitor) was just too small for comfortable application development.

You can extend the iMac desktop to a second monitor and that’s exactly what I’m doing. The iMac has a mini-DVI port on the back for this purpose. I purchased a mini-DVI to VGA dongle and extended the iMac desktop to my second Dell 24" monitor (I switch that monitor back and forth between my iMac and my Dell XPS PC as needed – its my furthest right Dell monitor and to the left of my iMac). For now my XPS Vista machine is plugged into that 24" Dell monitor’s DVI input.

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Purchased a Mac Mini for iPhone App Development

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Mac mini

Hell has officially frozen over. After 28 years of PC ownership, I purchased my first Apple computer yesterday – a mac mini.

I’d like to try my hand at developing iPhone Apps for the App Store. The SDK only works on the Apple platform (no SDK for you, PC developers). The big challenge for me won’t be the iPhone SDK so much as figuring out how to use a Mac. I’ve never spent more than a few frustrating minutes with the platform.

The Mac Mini Decision

Originally I was going to purchase an iMac hoping that I could use it in my growing array of PC monitors (ie: use its screen to switch back and forth between the iMac and just another screen in my array of PC screens). But, there’s no VGA, DVI or any other video input on the thing.

After an hour or so on the iPhone Developer site on my own and then another half hour with an Apple Store rep, we determined that the Mac Mini must be able to run the iPhone App SDK. Hence, as the cheapest way to go I decided that the Mac Mini was the best bet. After all, I have no intention to use the thing for anything other than Apple App development. And if it doesn’t meet my needs I have 14 days to return it.

I was a bit surprised that the Mac Mini doesn’t even come with a keyboard or a mouse. The Mac Mini was $649. The two extra peripherals were $49 each. And it cost me $99 fee to join the iPhone Developer Program. For $846 plus tax, I’m off.

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I Purchased the 16 Gig Rogers 3G iPhone

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Dale Dietrich Poses With his New 3G Rogers iPhone On Wednesday August 13, I purchased a 16 Gig 3G Rogers iPhone.

Please see my “Rogers Canadian iPhone Plans – The Fine Print” post for the details on: (i) the actual (vs. advertised) hardware pricing; (ii) Rogers’ 30 day Buyers Remorse option; (iii) the applicable $125 to $500 Early Cancellation Fees (ECF); (iv) bricking on cancellation; (v) the jailbreak option/issue; (vi) the option to transfer the iPhone to a third party (and avoid the ECF); (vii) Canadian iPhone shortages; (viii) upgrading to future models; (ix) data roaming in Canada; (x) the 365 day warranty; and (xi) moving your SIM between phones.

Below I describe: (i) how I resolved my purchase impediments; (ii) the Rogers Buyer’s Remorse Option; (iii) my first impressions (I’m loving it); and (iv) the all-in Rogers iPhone and data plan cost.

Overcoming Obstacles to Purchase

In light of my strong aversion to cell phone contracts (let alone Rogers’ infamous 3 year iPhone contract) and early cancellation fees, there were several major obstacles I had to resolve before I felt comfortable enough to ‘purchase’ the subsidized 3G iPhone.

  • 16 Gig iPhone is Too Small – Upgrade Dilemma: I carry around about 25 GB of music, 50 or so podcasts at any given time, workout and a few other videos/movies on my current video iPod (most of the storage is used for music). I’ll need storage space for the App Store applications I download. Plus, I’ll need space for email, contacts, pictures and visual voicemail. To manage with a 16 Gig iPhone, I’ll have to give up carrying most of my music around. So, I will inevitably want to upgrade to a 32 GB iPhone when it comes out. Resolution: As you can read in my ‘fine print’ post, the Rogers rep assured me that future models will be released for purchase at retail (as opposed to subsidized under contracts as is the case now). So, if he is right,  at that time I’d be able to purchase and use the newer (larger capacity) unit under my current contract (and sell my 16 Gig iPhone). I rarely listen to music on my iPod anyway. Instead I use it mostly to listen to and watch podcasts. For now, I’ll use my current iPod for the rare times I want music while travelling.
  • Rogers Dataplan Issue: The initially announced Rogers data plans were ridiculous (see here). Resolution: I took advantage of the $30/month 6 GB limited time offer. Home WiFi data usage is not counted against 3G dataplan limits. The free Rogers/Fido WiFi hotspot usage is also not counted against 3G dataplan limits. I expect most of my data usage will be through WiFi so I’m hoping/expecting that the 6 GB limit should be enough for my needs – but I’ll only know for sure after a few months of use.

CONTINUE READING →

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Rogers Canadian iPhone Plans – The Fine Print [Rewritten & Updated]

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Rogers iPhone

[This post is a rewritten version of an earlier July 28, 2008 post. I 'purchased' a 3G iPhone on August 13. In the mean time I spoke at length with two Rogers representatives on the telephone and spent a couple hours of quality time with "Jay" at the Rogers Store at Bay & King in Toronto. Click here for my prior summary of the Rogers 3G iPhone Rate Plan Offerings]

$199 and $299 Price ONLY on New Activations

I was  unpleasantly surprised when I ‘purchased’ my 16 GB 3G iPhone, that they charged me $324.99 instead of the $299 advertised price. The Rogers rep (Jay) told me that the $199 and $299 prices are available only to new Rogers customers. I had been a month to month Rogers subscriber since November 2001. The representative explained that I was getting a special deal given that I’m a high-value customer. I was told that ‘lesser value Rogers customers’ face up-to a $50 premium over the advertised $199/$299 prices.  I didn’t feel special!

30 Day Buyer’s Remorse Returns

Summary: iPhone purchasers can return an iPhone for a full refund and without having to pay the Early Cancellation Fees discussed below provided all of the following conditions are met:

  1. the iPhone is returned within 30 days of activation to the store where it was purchased;
  2. you have used less than 30 minutes of airtime (no more than 29 minutes);
  3. you provide your proof of purchase (receipt – contract); and
  4. the iPhone is undamaged and returned ‘like new’ with all pieces and original packaging.

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3G iPhone Reviews Rolling In

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Rogers Announces Expensive 3G iPhone Rate Plans – No Unlimited Access

Categories: canadacloud computinggadgetsinteractive mediaiPhone
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Rogers iPhone

Reference: Rogers iPhone Facts | RuinedPhone.com
[August 15, 2008 Update: Many of the questions and concerns discussed below are addressed in my newer post: Rogers Canadian iPhone Plans - The Fine Print]

[October 6, 2008 Update: As of October 3, 2008 Rogers has changed their iPhone plans again. Details are available here.]

Rogers has announced its (and its subsidiary Fido’s) long awaited Canadian 3G iPhone (details here) data plan pricing. The iPhone will become available in Canada, and around the world, on July 11.

Unlike AT&T and other international carriers, Rogers is not offering an unlimited data plan option. Rather it is bundling rather meagre data tiers to tiered voice plans at considerably higher prices than charged in Europe and the United States (see here). Here’s the details:

  • Minimum 3 Year Contract (AT&T offers U.S. customers the option: (i) of a 2 year contract; or (ii) to purchase of iPhone outright with no contract- see below)
  • $199 for 8GB 3G iPhone; $299 for 16GB (same as U.S. – announced by Steve Jobs but not yet officially confirmed by Rogers)
  • No Unlimited Data Plan. Rogers offers the following mixed monthly voice/data plans:
    • $60400 MB Data - 75 outgoing SMS - 150 minutes*;
    • $75750 MB Data - 100 outgoing SMS - 300 minutes;
    • $1001 GB Data - 200 outgoing SMS - 600 minutes;
    • $1152 GB Data - 300 outgoing SMS - 800 minutes;

*Minutes are weekday minutes. Rates do note include $15 or $20 a month for an options such as Caller ID, more text messages and call forwarding.

[July 9, 2008 Update: Rogers announced a limited time $30, 6GB iPhone data plan that can be added on to any Rogers voice plan. This offer expires on August 31, 2008]

By way of comparison the cheapest US AT&T data plan costs $30 for unlimited data and $39.99 for voice which includes 450 minutes, no SMS messages, and unlimited U.S. long distance (for a combined $69.99 total) (See U.S. Plan details)
[See also U.K./U.S./Cdn Price Plan Comparisons]

  • $6.95 monthly system access charge is charged by Rogers/Fido on top of data plans. (AT&T does not charge a monthly access plan but does charge a one time $36 activation fee for newbies, $18 for upgrades for existing iPhone customers)
  • 3G iPhoneAll Rogers plans include unlimited:
  • ‘Subsidized Only’ There is no option to purchase the phone at full price to avoid the 3 year minimum contract and cancellation fees (a practice prohibited in some European countries and under review by the U.S. FCC). U.S. users will be able to purchase their iPhone’s without a contract for  $599/$699.

CONTINUE READING →

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$35 Rogers iPhone Unlimited Rate Plan Leaked – Rumoured

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Rogers iPhone

[June 28, 2008 Update: Rogers announced its actual rate plans on June 27. Click here for the details. I'm leaving this rumour post as it was for posterity.]

This post on the ehMac.ca forum purports to have the details on Rogers/Fido rate plans for the 3G iPhone set for release on July 11. This was picked up by the Financial Post here, giving it enough credibility for me to blog about.

[July 20, 2008 Update: According to this article in the Toronto Star, the pricing plan set out below is wrong.  Here’s what the Star.com says:

Under the new model, smartphone users can choose between "flex" and "non-flex" plans with buckets of data that range in price from $60 for 1 gigabyte to $100 for 6 gigabytes. The plans are purchased in addition to a voice plan.]

[July 19, 5:28 pm Update: AppleInsider is questioning the veracity of this ‘leak’ here. They point out the purported leaked Rogers memo looks identical to an earlier AT&T memo. This could be a completely bogus cut and paste fake.]

Summary of the Salient Points

  • $35 Unlimited Data Plan: Rogers (and its subsidiary  Fido) will offer an unlimited data plan for $35 ($45 for enterprise customers), on top of your regular cell phone bill.
  • 3 Year Contract Commitment: Rogers will require you to commit to three years of service. No word on what the early termination penalties are.
  • “No ‘No Commitment’ Option: There will be no option to purchase a non-subsidized phone without a commitment.
  • $199 (8GB) and $299 (16GB) Device Costs: This is the same as in the U.S.
  • 30 Day Return Policy: If you don’t like the device you can return it within 30 days without breaking the long-term contract.
  • Mandatory In-Store Activation: Just like in the U.S.
  • No Word on SMS: Since SMS is nothing but data it should be included in an unlimited data plan. But, AT&T is charging extra for SMS messaging. Sadly, I’d expect Rogers to follow suit. This just means I won’t use SMS

This Would be Terrific

If this is true, it would be generally terrific news and a huge departure from the exorbitant data plan rates of the past. I concluded in this post that I would be willing to pay up to $50 a month for a decent data plan.

Long Term Contracts – Ugh

I do not like long-term contracts. I have always purchased my cell phones at full retail price to leave my exit options open.

There should be a law in Canada, as there is in France, mandating that carriers provide an option to purchase the device without a contract. This tried-and true carrier lock-in-by-contract technique is anti-competitive. It will keep Rogers/Fido users from switching to Bell/Telus when they start selling IPhones on their GSM overlay systems – due to be completed in a year or so.

But, if the penalty for breaking the contract is around $200 or less, I’ll take it. I’ll just consider it a cost of the phone.

Cross Border SIM Card Question

One big question I have is, can I take the SIM card out of the iPhone and use a U.S. AT&T SIM if/when I move back to the U.S. Yes, I know I’d have to pay the penalty to break my contract but I’d like to know if I purchase the 3G iPhone (especially if I pay the penalty) that I can take it with me if/when I move South. It angered me greatly when I returned from the U.S. years ago only to discover that I couldn’t use my the AT&T Motorola GSM phone that I payed full-retail price for on Rogers GSM network.

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3G iPhone, Yes But…

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3G iPhoneIn episode 147 of This Week in Tech, Leo highlights a few of the ‘yes, but… ‘ shortcomings of the latest 3G iPhone offering.

  • Limited 3G Availability: AT&T’s 3G HSDPA is only available in limited U.S. geographical areas (I don’t know how widespread Rogers 3G Network is)>
  • Higher Dataplan Rates: The unlimited data plan price for U.S. consumers has gone up from $25 a month to $30 a month (a price point Canadians still salivate over) .
  • 3G iPhone's New AppsSMS Not Included: AT&T will charge 10 cents per 140 bytes (characters). This is ‘odd’ because SMS is only data. But carrier’s excel at squeezing every last penny out of their users. This is clearly a cash cow they intend to milk as long as they can (Android, please come to our rescue).
  • Turn by Turn GPS Prohibited: Not only doesn’t the 3G iPhone not provide turn by turn GPS,  but Apple’s SDK prohibits developers from writing turn by turn GPS programs. My guess is Apple intends to launch a for-pay turn by turn service in the future. One wonders whether the SDK prohibition violates anti-trust laws.

CONTINUE READING →

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3G iPhone Coming to Canada July 11 – $199 – $299

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3G iPhone 
June 9, 2008 WWDC 2008 Keynote Announcing 3G iPhone

  • New 3G iPhone: “Twice the speed, half the price” – Details on U.S. Apple Website here (Canadian details here)
  • Launching on July 11: in Canada (on Rogers and Fido networks) and 23 other new countries  
  • 3G Speeds Approaching wifi Speeds: U.S. details here (Canadian details here)
  • Lower Pricing  (U.S. pricing – hardware price identical in Canada)
    • $199 for 8MB iPhone (to put this in context the 8MB iPhone launched at $599 just last year and was $399 up to today )
    • $299 for 16GB
    • $30/ month for U.S. Consumers AT&T unlimited data plan (on top of voice contract).
    • $45/month for U.S. Business Users.
    • [June 28 Update: Disappointing Canadian tiered data plan announced – see details)
  • Built in GPS: Satellite GPS supplemented by data from cell towers. U.S. details here (Canadian details here)
  • Increased Battery Life:
    • 300 hours (6 weeks) standby
    • 24 hours audio (music/podcasts)
    • 7 hours video
    • 5-6 hours 3G surfing
    • 5 hours 3G talk (10 hours 2G talk)
    • no GPS battery details yet

CONTINUE READING →

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