Digital Zone 226: ‘Please Leave Us Alone’

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In this edition of the Digital Zone, we talked about:

  • “Please leave us alone.”
  • AT&T to sell satellite phone
  • The Verizon iPhone switch
  • Smartphone interpretation
  • Napster iPhone app
  • We’re number 2

A Long Island University student allegedly received several argumentative e-mails from Steve Jobs after she criticized the company’s Media Relations Department. (Here’s the audio of this story from ABC’s Good Morning America.) The student claims to have repeatedly called the PR department asking for a quote regarding iPad use in academic settings, but the company representatives allegedly did not bother to respond. “Mr. Jobs, I humbly ask why Apple is so wonderfully attentive to the needs of students, whether it be with the latest, greatest invention or the company’s helpful customer service line, and yet, ironically, the Media Relations Department fails to answer any of my questions which are, as I have repeatedly told them, essential to my academic performance,” Isaacs wrote in her first e-mail to the CEO. “Our goals do not include helping you get a good grade,” Jobs allegedly responded. “Sorry.” Isaac claims to have countered the blunt response with another message denying that she asked for help getting a good grade. She then asked if the company considers it a duty to return calls from a client or customer. “But I guess that’s not one of your goals,” she wrote. “Nope,” Jobs allegedly responded. “We have over 300 million users and we can’t respond to their requests unless they involve a problem of some kind. Sorry.” The student continued the confrontation by claiming to be one of Apple’s 300 million users, and with a problem that can only be addressed by the Media Relations team. She again asked for a response for her school project and reminded the CEO that she is “on deadline.” The purported correspondence ends with a final plea from Jobs, as he asks her to “please leave us alone.”


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AT&T said they’re going to start selling a satellite phone to fill in their spotty network coverage. In order to use the phone, it has to have a clear view of the southern sky, where the satellite hovers, with no intervening trees, buildings or hills. AT&T will initially sell the phone to professional customers through business channels, but it will be in retail stores later this year. The phone will cost $799 and requires regular AT&T voice and data service plans but no contract and will use the AT&T network where it’s available. The option to be able to switch over to the satellite costs $25 extra per month, and then 65 cents per minute of calling. The phone will also allow users to browse the web and send and receive texts. It will run Windows Mobile 6.5 software and has a full keyboard and won’t have a large protruding antenna. The cost to send data is $5 per megabyte and text messages are 40 cents each.

According to a report from Credit Suisse, 63 percent of iPhone users would stick with AT&T if the carrier ends it exclusivity deal with Apple, about 23 percent – or 1.4 million customers – would jump ship to Verizon. If the option existed, about 3 percent would switch to Sprint, 2 percent would move to T-Mobile. About 20 percent said that if another carrier offered the iPhone, they would still stay with AT&T because they are completely satisifed. About 26 percent of respondents said they would stay with AT&T if the carrier improved its network, while 17 percent said they would stay with AT&T because of a family plan or corporate discount. Only 3 percent of current iPhone users are willing to break their contract to get rid of AT&T. About 18 percent said they would switch, but only when their contract expires. Credit Suisse reports 8.1 million current Verizon customers are waiting to buy an iPhone.


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What does your smartphone say about you? According to Nielsen, 54% of smartphone users are men. BlackBerry users are mostly middle aged, 37-to-55 years old, and rely heavily on their mobile devices for professional purposes. Users of Android phones, now 13% of the market, tend to be younger than iPhone users – some 55% are under the age of 34. iPHone users are slightly more educated and affluent than Android users, as 40% of iPhone owners earn $100,000 or more annually. iPhone owners use the device more frequently for entertainment purposes like playing games, Android users conducted more file transfer activities such as downloading pictures, ring tones and wallpaper. App users are 57% male, between the ages of 18 and 29, and are more likely to have a college degree (39%). The most popular app among iPhone and BlackBerry users is Facebook, closely followed by The Weather Channel. Android customers made Google Maps their top app, followed by Facebook. When it comes to paying for apps, BlackBerry and Android customers spend the least.

Napster launched an iPhone app that streams 10 million tracks from its catalog. The app lets users save songs and playlists for listening offline and offers access to the Billboard charts going back to 1955. In addition to saving up to 100 songs on your iPhone, Napster does offer an “automix” feature that works like Genius in iTunes, creating playlists based on your preferences. A person would lose the music saved to the iPhone if you let your subscription lapse. To use the service, you’ll need a Napster plus Mobile Access subscription, which costs $10 a month and gives you unlimited, on-demand streaming on your mobile device or through a Web browser. The company is also offering a discounted annual plan for $96.

According to The Nielsen Co., Microsoft overtook Yahoo for the first time in August to make it the number two search service in the United States. Nielsen says Bing, MSN and Windows Live had a 13.9 percent share of US search volume in August while Yahoo! had a 13.1 percent share. Google remains number one with a 65.1 percent search share in August.


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