It was an interesting week with AT&T coming under attack for it's desire to force FaceTime users into share plans as GigaOm's Stacy Higginbotham and other point out. What's I shared with Stacy is what may make the whole point mute for some who buy their iPhones direct from Apple. In AT&T's statement they wrote "FaceTime is a video chat application that has been pre-loaded onto every AT&T iPhone since the introduction of iPhone 4." Well, my iPhone isn't an AT&T iPhone. It's just an iPhone. I bought mine from Apple. The other way to approach this is to have Apple remove FaceTime in the next iOS from the preload and make it a download, just like Skype. With mobile video conferencing and calling on the rise, this can only be viewed as controversial and hurtful to that sector. Aberdeen Group reports that video collaboration over mobile is growing
CNET's Maggie Reardon made really clear sense out of the FCC's approval of Verizon's spectrum grab from the cable companies. Now the deal can proceed as planned which will enable Verizon to have more LTE available spectrum. In parallel to all this that impacts wireless Boy Genius Report's Brad Reed has a look back reflection on the DoJ's flag on the play approach to the failed AT&T acquisition of T-Mobile here in the USA. Slightly missed in all of this was the FCC suspension of flexible pricing for broadband network access rates charged by AT&T and Verizon to other wireless operators to get onto the Internet.
TechCrunch tells us that shared ride service Zimride's Lyft app could be the AirBnB of local transit. Taking a page out of the Uber car service model, you basically tell the network you need a ride and drivers heading in your direction can give you a ride for a donation. I see both pluses and minuses with this. First is liability. Second is legality. To transport someone for money usually means the driver needs a chauffeur's licence. It's one thing to give someone a ride somewhere, which ride boards in college dorms and talked about on college radio stations for years, but it's another thing to be going into business to haul people using a private driver network. The real reason these services can thrive is the current model of taxi-medallion issuing. Only so many medallion cabs are licenced in cities. Those licenses are very expensive and not easily obtained. Thus growing cities, or reemerging cities like SF have residents and visitors held hostage to higher prices limited availability. If more cabs were allowed on the streets, and if costs were more in line with what the market can handle, services like Zimride and Uber wouldn't be needed. Until things change, they will both bring disruption to the market.
BubbleMotion out of India, a company that has a voice blogging service that is viewed as the audio "Twitter" raised more money, reported TechCrunch. Since it works over SMS the need for data plans isn't necessary, and give the focus of the company is in developing nations, like India and others in SE Asia, the injection helps them. The company seems to follow another company I'm familiar with, RockeTalk, which is based here in San Diego but has basically operated out of India since it's founding. Both services are demonstrating that there's a market for messaging that goes beyond text, using apps that work on phones other than smartphones.
The Apple victory over Samsung in the patent fight has some saying it can turn into a win for Samsung, reports Ryan Kim of GigaOm. My view is Apple has established both the moral and now legal high ground on this issue, and may now have set the first prescident that really protects intellectual propety. It also makes many of the phones and tablets from Samsung in a way, collectors items. Lost in all this is the possible discontinuation of availability of the Samsung Galaxy Note from T-Mobile shelves in the USA. The combo-phone and tablet is either loved or hated by mobile phone users. As someone who has one and has used it in Europe the last few trips, it's large size makes it a great GPS and far better notepad type device than my iPhone, solely on screen size. But it's still an Android.
Time Magazine has partnered with OpenSignalMaps.com to show where the best and worst cell phone coverage is across the USA. A quick check of my area shows that my multi-carrier strategy is working. Verizon ranks first, while AT&T is second, with Sprint and T-Mobile lagging. With the new iPhones coming out in September, my plan is to buy one on Verizon and an unlocked version to use on AT&T. The value of this coverage map is that it really shows the what type of data coverage exists down to the street level as the data is being crowdsourced. Pair this up with the information avaialable from DeadCellZones.com and you get really great insight into which carrier is right for you.