In this edition of the Digital Zone, we talked about:
- Catholic Church Blesses iOS ‘Confession’ App
- $10 million in counterfeit Apple iPods/electronics seized in LA
- Mexican drug cartel sells counterfeit Microsoft software to fund kidnappings, drug trafficking
- Ken and Barbie’s fate put to Facebook vote
- Sprint to sell dual-screen ‘Echo’ smartphone
- Verizon iPhone Has New Antenna
- HP’s Palm Pre 2 pegged for Verizon on February 17
- Study: U.S. wireless subscribers overpay on service
- AT&T to add free 2GB to tethering plans
- iAds more effective than TV advertising, Nielsen finds
The Catholic Church has formally blessed a new iOS app called Confession, which lets followers keep track of their sins. The $1.99 app was created by a company called Little iApps and has been approved by Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne in Indiana. It guides Catholics through an examination of their sins, so when they visit a real priest in a real church they’re ready. The app guides users through each of the 10 commandments. The app also serves as a cheat-sheet for what sinners are supposed to say in the confessional. It even has a database listing of sins and prayers. Confession works on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
More than $10 million in counterfeit and stolen goods are recovered in a case stemming from a theft investigation begun by Los Angeles Port Police.
According to Microsoft’s lawyers, a Mexican drug cartel is selling counterfeit Microsoft software to help fund kidnappings, drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and other criminal activities. David Finn, Microsoft’s Associate General Counsel dealing with Worldwide Anti-piracy and Anti-counterfeiting said a study conducted by Mexico’s Attorney General said the cartel earns more than $2.2 million each day — over $800 million annually — from sales of counterfeit goods.
Facebook users are being asked to vote on whether one of the most iconic US couples ever should be reunited after a seven-year split. Barbie and Ken, split on Valentine’s Day 2004 after 43 years together, and now the public is being asked to weigh in on whether they belong together. After the break-up, Barbie was paired with a surfer doll named Blaine. Ken reportedly wants to win back Barbie by Valentine’s Day. No word yet if Barbie will let Ken back into her life.
Sprint unveiled a smart phone with two screens, one stacked on top of the other. The top screen slides out and can be snapped it into place so that the two lay side by side, producing screen space that rivals a tablet computer. The phone is made by Kyocera. Sprint says the phone can offer at least 5.5 hours of talk time and will include a spare battery in the box that can recharge both the phone and the second battery at the same time. The phone will go on sale in the spring and cost $199 with a two-year contract.
Apple’s Verizon iPhone contains a newly designed version of the antenna that was associated with dropped calls on the original device, according to companies that disassembled the handset. Qualcomm supplied chips that allow the handset to work on Verizon’s network—which is based on a technology called CDMA but also support other wireless technologies.
Verizon’s plans to release the Palm Pre 2 on February 17. The design will now have a 1GHz processor, a five-megapixel camera and a sturdier housing structure. It will have a 3.1-inch 320×480 screen, 512MB of RAM and 16GB of built-in storage.
The average U.S. wireless subscriber is overpaying on his or her cell phone bill by $336 a year, according to a study by BillShrink. About 80 percent of U.S. wireless subscribers miscalculate how many anytime voice minutes, text messages, and megabytes of data they need. As a result, consumers are purchasing wireless plans that don’t fit their needs and are actually costing them more money. Collectively, this results in the wireless industry pulling in an extra $79 million for services consumers don’t actually need or use. BillShrink offers a tool on its Web site that analyzes people’s cell phone bills to find the best plan to fit each customer’s needs. The company analyzed data from more than 230,000 individual bills that had been submitted through its service from December 2009 to December 2010. BillShrink compared actual wireless usage from these cell phone bills versus people’s estimated cell phone use. When it comes to voice minutes and text messaging, consumers tend to overestimate how much they need. According to BillShrink, the average consumer thinks he or she needs about 711 voice minutes per month but in reality uses only about 651 minutes. The average consumer also estimates he or she needs about 2,566 text messages but actually sends only about 1,555 messages per month. On the other hand, consumers tend to underestimate how much mobile data they use. The average consumer thinks he or she uses about 54MB of data per month but actually uses about 81MB of data.
AT&T has said they will add 2GB of data to customers tethering plans free of charge on Feb 13th because of their new hotspot offer. Customers will incur the same $20 monthly fee they’re accustomed to paying, only now they’ll receive an extra 2GB of data each month that can be used among all devices.
Nielsen is reporting that Apple’s iAds for Campbell’s soup products were more than twice as effective as television advertising for the same product. Nielsen says that customers who saw ads for Campbell’s in Apple’s operating system were five times as likely to recall the brand name, and three times as likely to remember what the ad said. The iAd audience said they were likely to purchase the product five times more than the television audience. Nielsen admits that there could simply be demographic differences here.