THURSDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2004
Top of the cell phone dung heap
Are you satisfied with your cell phone company? Newly released stats tell me about half of you are nodding yes, the rest a resounding no.
InStat/MDR's new numbers
tell us that, on average, 56 percent of cell phone users say their company leaves them either very or completely satisfied. Nextel is the big dog, though by a small margin, with almost 68 percent of its customers saying they're really happy. Verizon is a close second at almost 65 percent.
For all carriers, the biggest customer satisfaction factor is coverage, period. If your phone doesn't work, you remember that. If it does work, you're probably cool with whatever the monthly bill is. Dropped calls are death.
So the butterfingers award goes to AT&T Wireless, which presumably (and anecdotally) drops a lot of calls. It scored a bottom-notch 45 percent love rating. (I bet Cingular's real
happy to inherit all those pissed-off customers
Before you hop to Nextel, let's compare these numbers to another mass market business we can all relate to: the car industry. J.D. Power's APEAL study
looks at a wide range of factors to figure out how well we like our cars. And while it's certainly not a direct analog to a cell phone survey, I think it flies to consider the difference in happiness between the two industries.
The industry average for car satisfaction is 85 percent. That's almost 30 points above the cell phone business and closer to perfection than not. The most-loved car line is Lexus, of course, at about 91 percent customer delight. Even the stinkiest car line, Isuzu, comes in with an 81 percent approval rating. Hell, Pontiac scores an 84--and that's with
in its lineup.
Cell phones aren't the only technology that gives us a rather miserable experience. PCs are right there, too. Why do you think we tolerate misery from some products, when we have examples of great execution in our garages, kitchens, and living rooms?
TalkBack | Read all comments WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2004
The end of the hot spot
Already famous for his backing of same-sex marriage and his wife's recent overshare
, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom is finally making tech headlines instead.
"We will not stop until every San Franciscan has access to free wireless Internet service," Newsom said in his state of the city address
last week. "Every San Franciscan" equals about 740,000 people in 46.7 square miles. Beyond being a generous offer from the mayor, the announcement points to a fundamentally more useful way to think of Wi-Fi: hot spot-free and seamless
When Wi-Fi is seamless, everything changes. You won't have to screw with glitchy, goofy, 3G cell phones
for a data connection on your hip. A device like a Treo
becomes much more useful. And instead of using a cellular
phone, you might just run VoIP
software on a Wi-Fi PDA. Tasty.
The cellular carriers and phone makers have been overpromising 3G for so long, I'd love it if we just skip right over it as consumers. Besides, digital cell phones sound so bad, VoIP on your hip has to be an improvement in audio quality.
With seamless Wi-Fi, the in-car radio business could really be turned on its ear. I've spoken to several start-up stage firms that want to make Wi-Fi the new car radio, opening up your commute to thousands of interesting Webcasts instead of the tedium the major broadcast companies have made radio. I'd love it if we could shove those 22-minute commercial loads and junk syndicated content right up their greedy, overleveraged, Wall Street-beholden asses.
And finally, seamless Wi-Fi will also improve our appreciation for coffee. You'll actually be able to find a place to sit
at Starbucks once the high-tech hoboes realize they can get a Wi-Fi connection somewhere else.
TalkBack | Read all comments TUESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2004
While my Treo gently weeps
We had big traffic in response to the Treo stuff that went online today. Among your comments, as well as my opinion of the Treo
, Lev Zhurbin put down his violin
long enough to tell me:
"I've been using Palm's Tungsten C handheld for about two weeks now and am loving it very much. It doesn't have Bluetooth, but it does have Wi-Fi. Out here in New York City, there are thousands of wireless connections everywhere. Why pay $50 per month for some 'express network' (Verizon Wireless) when you can get it for free? And as far as a cell phone goes, I still use a--gasp!--two-year-old Motorola T730, which has one seldom-mentioned feature: it can work on analog."
Meanwhile, a guy called Zen was interested in improvements in one of the most maligned aspects of the older Treo:
"Thanks for the article on the Treo 650, but I have one more question. Has the speakerphone on the 650 improved over its predecessor's?"
Personally, I've always cut cell phones a huge piece of slack on speakerphones. I still think it's so cool just that they have them--not that they're intelligible.
, a vintage computing buff, writes:
"I'm greeting the 650 with a yawn...it took a year to get such a small improvements? Sheesh! I want a Treo 700: 128MB of RAM (or at least 64MB--I've run out of 32MB, and I'm storing big things in my 1GB SD card); Wi-Fi (Bluetooth? Who the heck wants that? Wi-Fi can replace Bluetooth for printing, and I don't play multi-PDA games via Bluetooth); 640x480 screen (I read most e-mail on elm, on a Unix box. I can Telnet to it from my Treo 600, but I have to pan back and forth to read the screen. A resolution of 640x480 would solve that, and if the display gets just a bit larger, too, that would be nice)."
Good grief, you have to admire a guy who Telnets into elm on his Treo.
TalkBack | Read all comments MONDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2004
The new Treo
The new Treo 650 is out today
, and that makes for one of the most anticipated releases in the short history of smart phones.
As I've used the Treo 600 since its inception, I compiled a mental list of what it needs to be an absolute ass kicker:
- High-resolution screen (you know, like on a CLIE)
- 1.3-megapixel camera (why not?)
- Bluetooth (mandatory for a device at this level)
- Wi-Fi (mandatory for a business device)
- Flash memory (to retain stuff when the battery is dead, which the Treo 600 can't do)
Here's what the Treo 650 actually has:
- High-resolution screen (320x320, instead of 160x160)
- Removable battery (hmm, I never felt a need for this)
- Cell phone call/hang-up buttons (a dumb-down for some part of the market)
- 22MB of RAM that is now Flash-based
- 312MHz Intel CPU (that's way faster than the current 144MHz)
- Less than 1 megapixel (that is, VGA)
Irritatingly, there's no Wi-Fi built in, but maybe someone will finally
make an add-on Wi-Fi card that can work in the new Treo. The reason Wi-Fi isn't built in is because the wireless partners that actually sell these things would go nuts: They want you to use their poky data networks and rack up fees, not connect to free high-speed hot spots.
You don't usually see me take apart a new smart phone, but the Treo created a category, and the 600 became the device to beat. There is a specter over its shoulder, however: the general softness of the PDA market, which is how the Treo is identified. Can it rise to greater mass acceptance?
We have a First Take, with video of the new Treo
, online today. Check it out and tell me what you think of both the device and the concept it represents.
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