Digital Zone 240: Happy New Year – You’re Dead

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

  • Lawsuit claims AT&T overbills for iPhone data use
  • AT&T Offering Unlimited Data to Keep iPhone Customers From Defecting to Verizon
  • Visa begins trialling iPhone NFC payment solution in Europe
  • People Use Apps Once 26% of the Time
  • Internet Kill Switch Back On the US Legislative Agenda
  • Happy New Year Text Message Accidentally Detonates Suicide Bomber
  • Microsoft: ‘over 2 million’ Windows Phone 7 licenses sold to manufacturers so far
  • Biometric Wallet opens only with a magic touch
  • New Gym Plan Requires Members To Pay More If They Don’t Work Out
  • Double-Sided USB Plugs In Both Ways
  • Facebook to let advertisers republish user posts

  • Lawsuit claims AT&T overbills for iPhone data use
  • AT&T is at the center of a class action lawsuit that alleges that the provider’s bills “systematically overstate the amount of data used on each data transaction.” According to a Electronista, the overstatement is somewhere in the range of 7-14 percent monthly. The consulting firm that was hired by the lawyers of the plaintiff conducted its own test of the data billing. Instead of using data and trying to measure it independently for comparison against the bill, the consultant did the exact opposite. The firm bought a new iPhone and immediately turned off all push notifications and location services, made sure that no apps or e-mail accounts were active and then left the iPhone idle for 10 days. AT&T billed the account for 2,292 kilobytes of data over 35 transactions.

  • AT&T Offering Unlimited Data to Keep iPhone Customers From Defecting to Verizon
  • Associated Press is reporting that AT&T is quietly offering some of its iPhone customers the ability to switch to unlimited data plans as a means to keep them from defecting to Verizon, which is rolling out an unlimited data plan of its own for a limited time as the carrier launches the iPhone. According to the report, AT&T’s offer is being made to customers who had previously been on an unlimited data plan for the iPhone on AT&T but had switched to one of the company’s lower-cost capped plans when it restructured its data plans as the iPhone 4 was announced last June. As part of that restructuring, customers with unlimited data have been permitted to retain their plans, but those who opted to switch to capped plans were told that once that change had been made they would be unable to switch back to unlimited data at any time in the future.
    AT&T has declined to comment on the change in policy.

  • Visa begins trialling iPhone NFC payment solution in Europe
  • Visa has starting to test iPhone-based mobile payment system in Europe. The trials require on-device software to be installed on testers’ iPhones, as well as a hardware accessory that contains an NFC chip. Visa’s solution also requires retailers to install a hardware terminal capable of processing the mobile payments. Apple is expected to add native NFC capabilities to its next-generation iPhone, which means users would not have to attach any additional device to their phones in order to pay for goods and services. Apple has not yet confirmed the addition of NFC to its next-generation smartphone. A survey conducted by Visa in Europe found that 87% of iPhone users would be willing to connect a hardware accessory to their phones in order to enable mobile payments.

  • People Use Apps Once 26% of the Time
  • A new Localytics study shows that 26% of new apps are never opened a second time. This trend has been on the rise since the start of 2010.

  • Internet ‘kill switch’ bill reintroduced as Egypt remains dark
  • Legislators in the U.S. are trying to reintroduce a bill that would give the President an Internet ‘kill switch.’ On the same day that Egypt’s Internet went dark, Senators Jos Lieberman and Susan Collins re-introduced a bill granting President Obama the authority to shut down the Internet within the United States in the event of a cyberattack. The bill, an amendment to the Homeland Security Act of 2002, was initially introduced last year but was tabled in December after election of a new Republican-led House of Representatives. Sen. Collins said the bill would not allow the President to deactivate the Internet in whole or in part during times of political unrest or protest – just during a “cyber emergency,” according to Wired.com.

  • Happy New Year Text Message Accidentally Detonates Suicide Bomber
  • An unnamed woman, who is thought to be part of the same terror group that struck Moscow’s airport intended to detonate a suicide belt on a busy square near Red Square on New Year’s Eve in an attack that could have killed hundreds. Security sources believe a spam message from her mobile phone operator wishing her a happy new year received just hours before the planned attack triggered her suicide belt, killing her but nobody else.

  • Microsoft Claims 2 Million Windows Phone 7 Shipments
  • A Microsoft executive said this week the company shipped more than 2 million copies of its revamped operating system, Windows Phone 7, in the most recent quarter. Greg Sullivan, a senior product manager at Microsoft, cited results of Microsoft’s internal surveys of customer satisfaction and brand awareness. “Customer satisfaction for the product is at 93% and brand awareness has jumped 22 points to 66% since it was released.” The 2 million figure represents Microsoft’s firmware shipments for the most recent quarter, not unit sales of handsets running that firmware. Businessweek’s editors shortened the headline to “Microsoft Shipped 2 Million Windows Phone 7 Units” creating the impression that Microsoft itself had sold the handsets.

  • Biometric Wallet opens only with a magic touch
  • If you’ve got a lot of money to throw around, what better way to show it than by spending $825 on the thing that you carry said money around in? That’s the going rate for the Biometric Wallet from Dunhill London. Its tamperproof locking carbon fiber outer shell, leather interior and stainless steel money clip are all nice touches, but what really makes it special – and biometric – is the fact that it will only open with a touch of its owner’s fingerprint. The wallet also features a Bluetooth alarm system. Once activated, it will sound an alarm if the wallet and the owner’s mobile phone are separated by more than 16 feet. The system should also keep the phone from being stolen – it’s two alarms for the price of one!

  • New Gym Plan Requires Members To Pay More If They Don’t Work Out
  • A new fitness concept developed by two Harvard economics students leans heavily on behavioral economics to motivate its members to workout. The concept, Gym-Pact, employs “motivational fees” – members pay more money when they do not exercise. For example, members currently pay up to $25 per week when they fail to exercise at least three times and $75 for dropping out of the program. Conversely, members who hit the gym at least four times per week pay nothing.

  • Double-Sided USB Plugs In Both Ways
  • A new concept USB plug includes two contact layers inside the USB plug, both of which are connected to springs. The contact layer that is wrong-side up slides back when it hits the endpoint inside your computer, while the right contact layer slides forward to transmit data.

  • Facebook to let advertisers republish user posts
  • Facebook users who check in to a store or click the “like” button for a brand may soon find those actions retransmitted on their friends’ pages as a “Sponsored Story” paid for by advertisers. Currently there is no way for users to decline this feature. Facebook says this lets advertisers promote word-of-mouth recommendations that people already made on the site. The new, promoted posts would keep the same privacy setting that the original posting had. So if you limit your check-ins to a specific group of friends, only these same friends would see the “Sponsored Story” version later.

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