Tag Archives: iPhone

A Million Unlocked iPhones Being Shown Off All Around the World – That’s a Tragedy?

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Even if the numbers of a million iPhones being unlocked are correct, that’s a MILLION iPhones walking around all over the world as FREE marketing and advertising for Apple – the most effective advertising of all – because it gives those users the cachet of doing something “not quite legal.” That they are “above the law,” and of course, eager to show off they know how to break the rules of normal society … (in reality, they just bought a phone but shhh, don’t tell them that 😉 )

Has Apple sold them a phone subsidized like nearly every phone on Earth at a 75-100% discount? No. Apple got full list price – even if someone marked it up, Apple made at least $399 or £299.

As for the revenue they are giving up that is recorded as future revenue in monthly chunks? Sure, but when you have to service cash, there are costs associated with servicing that cash …

Conversely, they also give up a lot of costs associated with it and saves them a lot of money. They don’t have to offer any tech support or service for these 1-million phones. How much accounting reserve is set aside normally for phone tech support that are locked to a service?

But it’s all just a gray number because how many tech-gadget companies would turn down an opportunity to seed a product in dozens of countries to build awareness & word of mouth? How much money would they have to spend to demo this product in dozens of countries – and less efficient than a “worldly” fan using word-of-mouth and a live demo to his/her friends? What could be better chachet than spending full price to own an “illegal” phone? AND then when the phone is available legally in that country? Won’t they be likely the first to convert anyway to get all the feature sets?

Isn’t all this worth the $10 dollars in revenue per month Apple “loses” (per person) if the phone were locked to its native carrier? Might this not be the CHEAPEST advertising possible AND Apple gets all the revenue upfront without having to share with anyone?

And of course, an “unlocked” phone is still entitled to the full range of services that the iTunes store sells. Of course, that varies from country to country but the most convenient choice is still the iTunes store. So it really a tragedy if Apple trades $10 from AT&T or Orange and instead sells a few iTunes movies, music tracks or videos?

It’s like anything else. When you sell something, you hope to garner a revenue stream down the line – as a car dealer hopes you always bring it back to them for service but at the end of the day, if you sold it at full price, then the rest is gravy.

Sure, you can view the future revenue stream as a 100% loss in accounting terms but if you look at the broader implications, it’s simply a tradeoff in overhead, advertising, marketing and a shift in revenues and expenses.

NY Times readers chime in on doing their part in advertising the iPhone everywhere around the world.

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Amazon Mp3 Will Affect Amazon Revenue More Than Apple’s iPod or iTunes

It’s pretty amazing the number of journalists who don’t look at a situation before just plowing ahead and writing words and “a conclusion.” They either choose to ignore the real world or they simply don’t understand it. Either way, it’s appalling.

Yes, Amazon’s entry into the “unlocked” DRM free Mp3 market will affect Apple & the iPod but its *affect* is DIFFERENT than you think.

If the iPod did NOT play the mp3 format, it would clearly have a major affect – just as when Sony’s players did not play Mp3’s directly (it would convert to ATRA mp3), when the iPod entered the market, people quickly choose the iPod over the Sony for the simple reason it played mp3’s very easily and transparently. Yes, the iPod looked nice and it was easy to use but if it did not play Mp3’s – there might be a few million out there versus 150 million.

There is no discussion. Mp3 is the preferred format for LEGAL and ILLEGAL downloads. Yes, there are others that hold some interest: mp4, FLAC, APE and even WMA but I don’t think anyone is going to argue that the preferred format OVERWHELMINGLY is not mp3 … sure, audiophiles can argue there are better formats but that’s not the issue.

It’s mp3.

You can do the math. 150 million iPods sold, 5 billion music tracks. That works out to about 34 tracks per iPod. Of course, it’s not 100% accurate as the bulk of iTunes sales are only in a few countries but even presuming double the number in the US per iPod user … and if iTunes music sales drops to ZERO for some reason?

How much is Apple losing in iTunes music store purchases per every iPod if that were true?

@$13.60

Apple is presumed to make $.20 per iTunes music track – not counting the cost of running the iTunes store and credit card fees … so actual profit is maybe $.07 a track but that’s presuming iTunes stores sales drops to zero which is unlikely … if Apple were to lose $7 per iPod in lost sales, I think there are dozens of ways Apple could make up that revenue including shaving $7 in costs from the iPod itself … but the bottom line is that the iTunes music sales are NOT the main reason people buy iPods.

Clearly, even people with iPod Shuffles have more than 34 or 68 tracks on their iPod. Whether it’s 100% legal converted from their own CD collection or LEGAL tracks downloaded from musician sites or other sites like iLike.com or ILLEGAL tracks, people know how to load tracks (1,000+ tracks) on a Nano (or up to 20,000+ tracks) on the Classic iPods. The iTunes store is a small part of the reason they buy an iPod.

So, what does that mean for Apple?

How about this ad from Amazon.com?

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That’s right. It might even help Apple sell MORE iPods, NOT less.

Because for all the people who hated the iTunes store for its DRM, now they have a reason to buy an iPod. Sure, it might help sell a few more SanDisks and Zunes but it’s clear that 7 out of every 10 mp3/DAP buyers are iPod buyers AND now that mp3 player sales overall are slowing, it’s rapidly becoming inefficient to stay in the marketplace if you’re 10th or even 5th in marketshare … leaving consumers with fewer choices down the line and we know what’s still the first choice with or without iTunes store purchases.

AMAZON?

If anything, this territory might be scary for Amazon than Apple.

Why?

Amazon sells about 6% of the 500 million CD’s sold in the U.S. or about 30 million CD’s. If we presume the average selling price is around $13 – that’s about $400 million in revenue for Amazon. Now, if you have the choice to buy 4 tracks of a CD for $.99 a piece (some tracks are less on Amazon, some more but let’s say an average of $.99) as an mp3 download or the full CD for $13, what’s your choice? That’s hard to say, of course but that’s precisely what Amazon has to deal with. Is that previous $13 purchase staying the same in revenue? Are you going to buy 13 tracks from 3 artists or are you going to stop at 4? In other words, is Amazon trading a $13 CD for $13 in downloads or are they trading $13 in revenue for $4 in revenue?

It’s impossible to say but the bottom line is that is the choice consumers have to make – sure, maybe instead of buying a $13 CD, that consumer can buy $25 in downloads … but what was holding back consumers before?

DRM?

If we know the average iPod user was spending @$34 at the iTunes music store, what held them back from spending more?

DRM? Really?

Are you that convinced it’s all about the DRM – that without DRM, sales would be up 50%, 100? 1000 percent?

Digital sales are increasing 50% a year anyway but for people WILLING to buy LEGAL tracks online were not doing so because they said DRM was the major hinderance?

I’m not saying the Amazon store won’t sell a lot of tracks but is Amazon trading CD sales for fewer downloads? What is the age breakdown of CD buyers? Is the music industry losing the bottom end of 12-24’s who are downloading free LEGAL tracks from their favorite bands from the musician’s MySpace page/iLike page and of course, clearly, they know how to download illegal tracks to fill their iPods?

Are these the same people who know how to convert tracks to a CD-R?

Sure, there’s a lot of blog talk about hatin’ DRM (and I certainly am NOT for it) but it’s sort like arguing against burning down the Amazon rain forrest, right? Who outside of 300 Brazilians arsonists are for it? But what are people really doing about it?

BOTTOM LINE

My prediction is that sure, Amazon will grab some market share from iTunes music store but as Amazon’s ads say – BUY an IPOD to add Amazon tracks … Apple merely shifts revenue from iTunes to iPods – not exactly a tragedy and if Apple convinces you to buy a few tracks, rent some movies, buy a music video – there are pretty much back to $34 in iTunes revenue AND they’ve sold you another iPod.

The people who really hate Apple and think they should hate the iPod are not going to swayed by this anyway. They are buying SanDisks and Creatives as it is now – this won’t change anything.

The 75% who own iPods might switch and buy some tracks from Amazon but for less savvy users who like being able to preview, buy and sync with one click don’t care about DRM – nothing will change.

And in 6 months or a year, the record labels will be forced to sell DRM free on iTunes … a) because they can’t ignore the place where 70% of the digital music online market is and b) they’ll be sued for restraint of trade by not selling the same thing to everyone – will the iPod marketshare drop to some small percentage? No. Will there as good of a user tie-in as iTunes to the iPod as SanDisk’s, Creative’s or even MS for their software to their hardware? Unlikely.

Now that Apple has added movie rentals and more movie choices, the only real scenario is that the iPod will maintain its market share or more likely, grow slightly. Apple is still the leader in every aspect except the bottom end. There is no small player with the screen, movie rentals & audiobooks to match the Nano, for those who want 160GB, there is no competitor at the same price and of course, the iPod Touch trumps them all and has the highest margins/pricetag – so another 6 months of clear sailing for Apple and the iPod.

Sure, the iTunes store might drop a few percentage in market share to the Amazon mp3 store but the Amazon store has no movie rentals or TV shows (the Unbox has both but no portable player).

The Amazon mp3 store affects Apple just as if you were to open a Best Buy across the street from an Apple store. The revenues would shift around a little but at the end of the day, Apple actually comes out ahead because all you’ve done is given the consumer another reason to buy an iPod.

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Hello From MacWorld 2008

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Not actually blogging from here since we’re only #72,000 on Technorati 🙂 … there are only about 15 seats … maybe next year.

Other than the keynote, there’s not much to see that’s new – I don’t think Adobe is even here. The nicest booth by far is Belkin’s

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If this were in Venice, it’d be about $900,000.

The coolest booth is Crumpler (they make messenger and brief bags). It’s a castle made up of interlocking cardboard or some sort of polymer board.

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Only thing I bought From XtremeMac:

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I took a photo of the MacBook Air but not only were there way too many people crowded around it, there is no way a photo can do it justice in how thin it is. If you have a pad of yellow legal pads … yea, that’s your MacBook Air. It’s pretty amaazing and of course, me wantee. Apple website. Ad for Air. Guided Tour – multiple resolutions + downloads.

The updated AppleTV looks very nice – also with a Guided Tour. In case you missed it, the big news is Movie Rentals from all the movie studios and even in HD!

And linked with Leopard’s “Time Machine” backup feature, Time Capsule with allows you to back up wirelessly.

So, nothing as startling as last year’s iPhone but honestly, how many iPhone-like cottage industries can you pull out year afer year 🙂

Not sure why some people were so sure about a 3G iPhone … the 3G iPhone is ready to go when AT&T is ready and when Apple needs the sales boost.

The Tablet Mac? Pleezeee … Outside of 5,000 people and apparently 900 squeaky-wheel bloggers and analysts, hardly anyone cares or actually wants one – how are those WIN tablet sales? EGGXACTLY!

Everything released was nice, interesting and useful – it’s nothing revolutionary but that’s fine. Not every keynote can be revolutionary. Making food into pellets is revolutionary but sometimes you just want a juicy burger, eh?

Speaking of food, of course, just one block away – a dozen Beard Papa’s fresh giant cream puffs …

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The best food surrounding a convention center in America … unless of course, you enjoy $8 pizza made in 2005 and reheated … oh, and it’s sunny and 65 degrees here in SF so come on by!

(PS – Of course for those that keep track of such things – Best Booth Babes – Skull Candy and best DJ!)

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Microvision Pico Movie Projector for Your iPod

You’re on a plane, the movie they are offering is NORBIT or the edited 9-minute version of DEADWOOD … fortunately the rotund dude in front of you who had to buy two tickets is sound asleep and he’s wearing a white shirt – just attach the Pico Movie Projector to your iPod and you use his shirt as your projection screen … your own drive-in movie … Now all you have to do is convince the marshall sitting next to you to switch with the drunken cheerleader …

In the CES demo, it’s a snippet of CARS …

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Microvision Website.

Via GIZMODO with video.

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iPhone Caller ID: Glitch Fix

This might not apply to everyone but if you added additional information to the phone number in ADDRESS BOOK and after transferring/syncing – the iPhone cannot interpret the additional text and the iPhone CALLER ID feature won’t work correctly.

As a result, it will only display the incoming numbers only when the person is in your phone book – so you stare at it thinking, this phone number looks vaguely familiar but you can’t quite place it … (some people just hate when you don’t immediately recognize or hestitantly answer the phone … your wife, for example 🙂 )

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As in this case, because I added ASPEN after her number, when Leslie calls, only her number will display – the iPhone attempts to match the incoming caller ID info with your address book but since ASPEN is not part of the incoming caller ID information – the iPhone blanches as a call NOT from someone in your phone book – so no caller ID info.

This also applies to people with landline phone extension numbers you might’ve added to their regular phone.

The solution is there but not necessarily apparent.

In the ADDRESS BOOK>PHONE, select CUSTOM

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In ADDRESS BOOK, “custom” is smart (as is a lot of Apple apps), it’s ONLY custom to this person so in this case, I enter in ASPEN H but you can essentially enter any info you want – you get about 10 letters before it gets truncated.

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Voila!

(then of course, sync …)

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AT&T CEO “Leaks” News of iPhone Going 3G

To some, Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T blabbing that a 3G iPhone is coming is a slip of the tongue, to some, it’s a well planned metaphoric stab at Steve Jobs and to others, it’s old news.

The bottom line is it’s a combination of all three but the consequences are very mimimal.

Why? Because there are two camps.

People who have no idea what 3G is.
People who care about having 3G.

Here’s your test, go up & asks someone if they are GSM or CDMA. That’s ALL you ask them – no alluding that it’s a cell phone acronym – just ask them GSM or CDMA?

90% of the people will go – huh?

The 10% who can actually answer can tell you about whether 3G is important to them.

Of that 10%, 100% can tell it’s a feature the iPhone will eventually add just like GPS.

IT’S JUST A GIVEN.

It’s like asking if the laptops in the stores will be faster next year?

Or if NAND memory will get smaller & cheaper per GB.

IT’S A GIVEN.

In fact, Steve Jobs answered the questioned that 3G was not included because of battery usage right upfront … part of the answer may have been AT&T was just not ready to provide a 3G network at the cost that Apple was happy with … how many people wants 3G at $60-$75 EXTRA per month? How many iPhones would Apple have sold if the lowest price package was around $120 a month and the high was $160 a month?

THOUSANDS of bloggers (lead by ZDNet, no doubt) would have SCREAMED – why not EDGE – it’s “good” enough for maybe $10 extra month?!! Why, oh why is Apple forcing 3G down the throats of innocent people who just want EDGE?

There is just no pleasing some people …

Part of the answer was undoubtly the battery life but part was also AT&T’s network capability … they seem barely able to handle the voice portion – how are they going to deal with 4 times the number of TOTAL 3G subscribers in the US all jumping on their network to text and VOIP?

When will we get 3G iPhones?

Well, part of the answer is when AT&T’s network is ready. Is it ready? Did anyone bother to ask the CEO that? It’s not like adding a feature to an OS – if AT&T networks is not ready, why bother? And analysts presumably can tell when it’s ready … ONLY THEN will we get a 3G iPhone.

Because a 3G iPhone itself is not hard – a software upgrade … a new chip … other than the battery issue, Apple’s portion of this is EASY … is AT&T ready? Is AT&T ready AND not ready to charge us another $60 a month because if that’s the case, it will be as popular as 3G is now in the United States … out of 150 million internet users and over 200 million cell phones, how many 3G users are there now at $60-$100 a month?

LESS than a million.

People have an opportunity to choose and buy 3G RIGHT NOW but it’s clearly not at a price that interests people.

Prior to the iPhone, people didn’t really want to surf the internet on the phone because they didn’t want to pay $15 to $30 extra a month – but Apple made AT&T bundle it in with the regular monthly fee which is only slightly higher than a non internet plan with other phones so is AT&T really ready to deliver 3G at a slight bump in cost?

And yes, Cringley is probably right that it’s a shot at Steve Jobs but ultimately, who cares?

Oh, boo-hoo that AT&T takes a shot at Apple because Apple might jump into bed with Google on the 700 Mhz thing … or boo hoo that Apple might “double cross” AT&T … to use a “street” phrase these “journalists” might understand …

THAT’S HOW CORPORATIONS ROLL.

Not only do corporations cross partners and jump in with someone else, sometimes they do it with their own divisions. That’s just the way business is. It’s nothing new and nothing different.

As for consumers, look 90% don’t care – the buy an iPhone because it offers 30 features no more than 2 taps away and with one device, they get a phone, the internet, SMS, music, video photos and handy information plus cachet & fashion … 3G is nice but do I want to wait 35 seconds for my NY Times page to load or do I want to wait 364 days and 8 seconds for 3G and my NY Times page to arrive.

If I want 3G when it actually arrives, I will buy another phone.

That’s how people roll.

Sure, do people claim that they will wait for a 3G iPhone – of course, but I’ll bet 90% of those people will then claim they are “now” waiting for a 3G & GPS iPhone or if Apple delivers both that, they’ll want a video camera iPhone … or if that’s included, a 12-MP camera … that “wish” list is never ending and it’s a moving target because they DON’T REALLY WANT AN IPHONE – they just want to appear they are rich or savvy enough to want an iPhone if only it had that one crucial feature THAT NEVER ARRIVES IN THEIR MIND.

Will there be a faster laptop next year – uh, d’uh …

Why buy a car when somewhere down the line a hovercar might actually be available – why compromise?

If you want an internet-iPod Phone, what are you waiting for? Perfection?

Or do you really never intend to buy one and just talk a good game?

There will always be something faster & better NEXT year but you can wait and use NOTHING or use something until the better one actually comes out?

Of course, we are at the nascent stage of the iPhone and it is understandable that not everyone needs an internet-iPod-Phone – but the bottom line is 90% of the people who claim to want is a 3G iPhone is just plain lying, just want to sound savvy or just like to hear themselves talk.

That’s NOT to say there aren’t plenty of other reasons why people don’t want to buy or don’t need to buy an iphone – some of the REAL reasons might include:

not wanting to pay more than $25 for a phone because they cannot afford it;
not wanting to pay more than $25 for a phone because they don’t see the need
they hate AT&T
they are boycotting AT&T for the wiretapping issue
they can’t get out of their contract
they hate Apple
they hate their cell phone as it is …

and the list is nearly endless but 3G is way down the list for the average consumer and even on the list of savvy buyers who claim to be holding off because the iPhone is not 3G … they clearly don’t need internet access that much because they’d rather WAIT ANOTHER YEAR for the internet on their phone instead of waiting :30 seconds more TODAY with an iPhone.

The biggest hinderance to wider iPhone acceptance is simply the price but that will not change. Apple is not about to do a Moto or Nokia and sell their crown jewel Apple “name” AND kill their margins just to grab market share willy-nilly. Apple simply wants the greatest market share at the highest margin … and the bottom line to slow(er) iPhone acceptance is much like the iPod. People do NOT believe anyone when they are told something is easy to use – they have not only been fooled, they’ve been conned so they are naturally leery. Even if their regular cell phone promises them music, the internet and the moon and is crap – at least, they are just out $25 bucks and can go swap it out AGAIN for another phone (of course, the cell phone companies are happy – they just re-trigger the 2-year contract from today – what do they care about Nokia or Moto branding?)

So, the 3G iPhone is not much news. Will a couple hundred people hold off? Sure – much like the iPod or the person who wants to wait just anoither 4 months before buying that new laptop to make sure a faster one isn’t coming (pssst, a faster one is coming but maybe you don’t need a laptop if you can go 4 months without one).

And yes, it could get interesting corporate-gossip wise if Apple jumps in with Google but AT&T is not exactly a mom-pop operation who have placed all their marbles in with Apple – they are advertising other phones and even have other competing features with Apple like the other music store but is Apple crying boo-hoo? No – because they realize that’s the business of business. It’s a cold hard world and only high margin revenue will keep them warm 😉

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iPhone Review: Aliph Jawbone Bluetooth Headset

Now that California passed a law that drivers must use a hands free headset, I was forced to go out and get a one … and since a bunch of you were so kind to complain loudly that Apple credited us early iPhone buyers with $100, the headset was essentially a Chistmas present from Apple & the crabby people – so thanks!

If you’re going to get a (mostly) free headset, why not get the best one?

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Of course, I did not test out every possible choice, for some reason, no one really like you to jam an earpiece headset into your ear and then hand it back to them … so I read a lot of reviews and while the praise was not unanimous, the best reviews seem to be for the Jawbone. I had used a few before and rejected them as dorky looking or poor sounding – neither of which applies to the Jawbone.

Of course, people might wonder why you have a square satellite TV dish in your ear but that’s more puzzling or scary than dorky.

SOUND QUALITY

Yes, it’s not the smallest thing but the sound is quite nice. I have horrible AT&T reception at my house (what a shock, I know) so it’s the perfect test as I have to walk around on the street to get reception so I could hear people fine and people could hear me fine. In fact, the quality is way better than the really dorky Apple wired set … for some reason, listening on white buds and wires on an iPod is fine but talking on one is just dorky.

Okay, I’ll stop using the word dorky now.

Some people seem to have overly high expectations of the sound quality – is it going to match two people in adjoining rooms on landline phones? No … but can you hear them easily and they can hear you easily? Then yes, it’s fine. Thay’s all you can reasonably expect. There’s no white noise, there’s no hum or feedback – it just sounds like a normal conversation.

SIZE

Of course, that’s pretty much the only reason to get a headset is sound quality. And technically, it’s more of an earpiece but Aliph calls it a headset … As someone who does not normally walk around all day with an earpiece, while it seems sort of large, it’s lightweight and the earpiece evenly distributes the weight so it didn’t really bother me to leave it on for three hours as part of my test. I’ve never understood why people wear one in the supermarket – honestly, is so hard to hold a phone and reach for some Hamburger Helper?

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(BTW, the earpiece photo directly above is pretty much actual size so if you can print out and stick on your ear to test it out. Make sure to do it when solicitors come by the front door and you can pretend to talk on it 🙂 ).

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IPHONE SETUP

The iPhone setup could not be easier.

Charge up the headset (using USB or the AC adapter).

Nice RED glow band when it’s out of juice (as straight from the box) – turns white when charged.

Turn on the headset.

Turn on iPhone – go to GENERAL. Select Bluetooth and turn on.

Place JAWBONE next to iPHONE, it will show up as “discoverable” device – tap on it and type in the factory pin …

The JAWBONE will be listed and it reads “PAIRED.”

That’s pretty much it.

When the phone rings, you press the earpiece towards the back to answer. Press and hold for 1 second to hang up. To dial out, you do need the iPhone out of your pocket.

As another nice touch on the iPhone, the SPEAKER portion that is active during a call switches to read AUDIO SOURCE and if you tape it, it now reads JAWBONE, SPEAKER or IPHONE so you can switch quickly – another nice iPhone touch.

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EARPIECE

I think one of the reasons some reviews rank the Aliph as poor is because the ear piece hook is NOT intuitive. If you look at it, you presume, it hooks over your ear but it doesn’t really and once you get the hang of it, it actually works fine and by not hooking over your outer ear flap, it distributes the weight better so you can wear it longer without a giant device resting on your ear. But it’s not very intuitive and I’m sure some people never figured it out and gave up.

The Aliph manual can be a little more descriptive on how to wear the thing.

You angle it slightly so it hooks and is ANGLED over the gap BETWEEN your head and your outer ear (the cartilage area). Once you get used to that, it’s easy to wear, it distributes the weight and is pretty firm.

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IT AIN’T FROM APPLE

I definitely looked long and hard at the Apple bluetooth but the reviews were very middling and while Aliph has done a nice job on the earpiece technology wise and exterior looks, they do fall down in small areas that Apple would never.

It comes in a gorgeous rectangular plastic box and the Jawbone rests on a museum like stand but once you open it, the details are lacking.

Instead of a carrying bag or preferably – a mini hard plastic carrying case, you get a bubble wrap bag? Huh? They just presume people will put this one in the morning and wear it all day until they get home? There should be a hard plastic carrying case you can slip into your pocket … while the thing is not ultra delicate, you do have the pivoting ear hook and most people would prefer not to jam this in their pocket … even a small vinyl bag? Nada.

The recharging portion is so un-Apple like. The charger features EXPOSED prongs that dig deep into the back of the earpiece – but removing it is so un-iPod like. Again, Apple thinks and gives you the small details – on the iPod/iPhone – if you press on the charger connector head on the side, it “unlocks” & loosens the connector so a gentle tug will remove it from the iPod and the connector is a solid piece of metal so it’s much more difficult to damage – here – you get 4 metal exposed prongs that require you to use force to plug in and when done, to try and remove it straight and with force … not a very smart design.

The charging light portion is a cool and classy touch – a thin band of light on the exterior glows briefly – red while low and charcoal white when it’s ready to go – same color scheme in turning it on and off. That is nice.

You go get additional ear hooks (left ears and large & standard) though the difference is pretty subtle – you also get some additional ear canal plugs. You also get an AC adapter to plug in the charger – though again, no carrying case to protect the exposed prongs.

And the manual should spend way more time explaining how to wear the thing … we might be morons but we’re your paying customer morons … plus you’d probably get a lot fewer returns.

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SUMMARY

So, technology-wise, no problems. The noise reduction clearly works and you get nice sound quality in-coming and out-going. I presume the larger-than normal size is more a technology limitation and not just laziness on Aliph’s part … though clearly the acccessory portion of the packaging is laziness or cluelessness and needs to be revamped – especially for something that is probably the most expensive ear piece.

So, looks nice, sounds fine and easy to setup on the iPhone. You do have to supply your own carrying case for the earpiece & the charger. The earpiece hook is not super intuitive – either a better design or better instructions are called for.

So, room for improvement is definitely needed. If the Apple headset had noise reduction, the sale would have gone to Apple so Aliph better get on the horse and start going a little faster. So recommended as probably the best out there now but lots of room for improvement. It does look nice so a very classy looking holiday gift.

It comes in red, silver & black. At Amazon, the silver comes in a Cingular box and not the Aliph box and the pricing varies. The larger Apple stores and Apple online carry all three at the same price.

One other thing, if you’re like me, you’ll need to spend another $10 for these … Jabra ear gels … while they look superfluous, they go help “grip” your actual ear canal area which is not round or oval (as Aliph seems to think) …

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They also come in colors.

And like the ear loops, you’re buying a bunch when you really only need one … once these are mass – we should start up an exchange of some kind …

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Apple iPhone Forced to Unlock in Europe – Crying to the Bank …

While Apple is being forced to unlock the iPhone in Europe, it is tragic … because Apple is going to pay so much more in taxes from the HUGE profit they will be making … yea, that’s quite a tragedy.

The deal will be much like T-Mobile’s just-announced revised deal in Germany. Get the iPhone for $590 (in USD) if you sign a 2-year contract (monthly rates are like the US – about $50 to $100 (converted to USD)). If you want to buy an unlocked phone, it’s @$1,500 (USD).

So the consequences for Apple will be either make $500 + $20 a month from T-Mobile for each iPhone customer … or make some $1,300 in one fell swoop now.

Oh, what a tragedy for Apple.

While $1,500 is a lot for a phone, people have a choice but the bottom line is it doesn’t hurt Apple’s bottom line.

Consumers can get the full experience with T-Mobile or get slightly less with another carrier but don’t have to worry about a contract. It’s a win-win for Apple.

That’s why Apple is on a roll. They win by winning and they win by “losing.”

They will not only INCREASE sales but make more money upfront as a “consequence” of the ruling.

So, yes, the tax department will have to work a little harder and Apple will probably have to come up with more upgrades to deter people from buying a US phone (where the dollar is much cheaper), unlocking it and using it in Europe but all the bricking fears will silence most buyers – most that want an unlocked phone would rather pay $1,500 for an official phone they can take into an Apple store versus saving some money upfront but maybe worrying that every 2 months, there will be some major upgrade and their phone might die … you can bet adding the ablity to run 3rd party apps next year wll be a major upgrade and brick many unlocked older phones.

Again, win by winning and win by “losing.”

That’s how you plan ahead and run a business – where your worst consequence is you make more money and have more tax hassles …

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iPhone “Free” Custom Ringtones Are Back – How To Make Your Own

UPGRADE SOME COMPONENTS FIRST

You will need to make sure your iPhone is updated to 1.1.2 and iTunes 7.5 & maybe even Quicktime 7.3. Of course, your iPhone upgrade is best handled by clicking on UPDATE after you dock your iPhone and turn on iTunes 7.5. This is a pretty big upgrade including a firmware upgrade so it will take 10-15 minutes in total – maybe sure you can do it un-interrupted.

READY

Yes, you can still pay $.99 for a ringtone from Apple which is the least amount of work required and sounds the best – but it’s very limited – maybe one of every 20 tracks is available to scrub as a ringtone, you also can’t merge different parts of a song together and of course, personally, if I buy a song, I should be able to mash, squeeze it and manipulate to my hearts content as long as I’m not selling it … but anyway, custom ringtones are back and here are some basic guidelines to converting your tracks to .m4r ringtones.

STEP 1

You will need some software that can open music tracks and let you edit portions. It’s would also be nice if that software offered you features to manipulate the sound – in particular, useful features available to you include:

Raising/Lowering Volume
Fade In & Fade Out
Boosting Bass

Note, the update of 1.1.2 seems to have raised the volume again (yes!) so you don’t need to increase as much as previously, in fact, I actually had to turn the ringer down slightly.

Fade In & Out is SO much classier than it just jumping in to the track and jumping out.

Boosting the Bass – most AIFF to mp3 to AAC to .m4r conversion seems to strip out the bass so it can sound kind of tinny – try to boost the bass a bit but not too much.

Also keep in mind, it has to be below :30 seconds.

WHAT TO USE?

If you are extremely lazy, the track sounds okay and you don’t care about FADE IN or OUT, you can even use iTunes. Insert your CD. Click on the track, Select GET INFO and shorten the in & out points to what you want and select CONVERT TO AAC. You now have a :30 track. Go down to instructions beoow on conversion to .m4r and you are set to go.

You can kludge iMovie also to get a FADE IN & FADE OUT but much more work is involved. If you only intend to create one ringtone, it is a way to go.

Or QT Pro will also allow editing but again, not very precise and a last resort.

REAL EDITING SOFTWARE

SOUND STUDIO

If you got SOUND STUDIO with your Mac purchase as I did you are set (currently, it’s $79.99), select IMPORT WITH QUICKTIME to open any MP3 file, highlight the areas you want and paste into a new file – you can even clip, edit and smooth out your edits – just keep it around :30 seconds and use the Fade in and Fade Out – then EXPORT with QUICKTIME to create an AIFF file. Then drag into iTUNES and convert to AAC.

GARAGEBAND

I don’t use GarageBand much but it’s free if you don’t have SOUND STUDIO. Create NEW Podcast. Open your ITUNES LIBRARY – search for song, drag TRACK to JINGLES – edit and manipulate away. Export PODCAST TO DISK – it will already be an AAC file.

Note, podcast export files are low fidelity but then it is a ringtone so you can decide.

FISSION

Rogue Amoeba also offers FISSION if you don’t have SOUND STUDIO. It’s around $32 and offers additional MP3 features other than just editing. Can’t go wrong with a solid app like Fission.

OTHERS

There are probably 50 other editors ranging from freeware to studio quality music editors if you have other software you prefer – just make sure the volume is okay, add fade in and outs and boost the bass a bit.

STEP 2

Once you have your tracks as AAC files – the easiest is to use the FREE Make iPhone Ringtone courtesy of Rogue Amoeba.

Download the MAKEIPHONERINGTONE app. That is the direct link to the app – Rogue’s blog notes are here.

Launch MakeiPhoneRingtone – drag your AAC file onto the front panel, it will auto convert, launch and place the file into the newly created RINGTONE line in your iTUNES LIBRARY.

Then sync and you are ready to go.

So, good luck – as long as you can convert the file to AAC, MAKE IPHONE RINGTONES will take care of the rest.

So if time is money, then you have the easy way but if you don’t mind a few minutes of work to save $.99, there are lots of ways to go.

Thanks to Engadget, we have the legal go-ahead.

ALSO

Remember you can assign different tracks to different people in your contacts … just make sure your boss & your significant other gets an appropriate track …

For those who need a primer on using Apple’s iTunes ringtone maker feature, read our previous post.

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AT&T Has 20 MORE iPhone Questions

A few weeks after the iPhone hit the market, AT&T sent out an extensive 20-question survey (covered in this post).

Now, AT&T has followed up with another email survey – some questions the same – obviously to gauge differences between mid-July and now mid-October but others are more detailed in asking what you would like to see changed on the iPhone.

So be sure and answer the questions so they know what you think of AT&T, Apple, the iPhone – and what other features you might like to see …

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