Apple iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S Go On Sale Today

Starting at 3:00am, 12:00am Pacific, this morning, Apple started online sales of the new iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S.  Apple Stores around the country open in just over 90 minutes to begin selling what I’m sure will be a blockbuster success for Apple.

2013 will be remembered as the first year that Apple released two iPhones simultaneously.  The iPhone 5C is a redesigned iPhone 5 that includes a new polycarbonate colored shell similar to the iPod touch.  The iPhone 5S, sporting it’s new Touch ID sensor, M7 motion co-processor, and all new, 64-bit A7 processor is a mobile power house sporting the same processing power as the Macintosh.

If you are looking for an iPhone 5C today, there is a good chance you will be able to find one in the color and capacity that you want.  The yellow iPhone 5C, however, might be a little more difficult to find as it appears to already be quantity constrained when ordered online.

People looking for the new flagship iPhone 5S should start today off by planning on being disappointed today.  If the media is anywhere near accurate, we should be prepared for SKU stock outs very quickly today.  Demand for new iPhones is up this year, however, the new Touch ID sensor has been widely reported as bedeviling Apple’s manufacturing partners and the yield rate on iPhone 5S models is much lower then Apple would have liked.  Reports around the Internet are also stating that the white and gold iPhone 5S models are being produced in a 3:1 ratio to the black/space grey model, meaning that white iPhones 5S will be harder to find, and reports from around the world where iPhone 5S is already on sale are stating that the gold iPhone 5S is virtually impossible to find.

So, what are we Apple fans suppose to do?  I’m preparing for not being able to get a new iPhone 5S today.  I’m going to attempt to go to a local Apple Store this afternoon when I get out of work.  Sure I’ll be taking a half day, but after being on sale for 5+ hours by the time I get there, I’m expecting stock outs on the 32GB space grey model.

If you can’t stand not getting a new iPhone as soon as possible, or can’t get to an Apple Store this morning, you might want to just order the unit online at Apple.com.  Shipping times for 32GB units are still showing as 1-3 days.

The iPhone 5S pricing starts at $199 for a 16GB model and goes up $100 successively for the 32GB and 64GB models.   The iPhone 5C pricing starts at $99 for the 16GB model and $199 for the 32GB model.  Apple is also keeping the iPhone 4S around in an 8GB model for free when you sign a 2-year contract with your wireless carrier.  Starting today, all four major US wireless carriers, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile will begin selling the new iPhones.

The iPhone 5 models released last year have entered retirement today, and have been replaced by the iPhone 5C in Apple’s three tier features model.

All three iPhone models will run Apple’s iOS 7.

Whatever you end up doing, I hope you are able to find the iPhone you are looking for today, if not very soon.

Happy iPhone Day!

The Use of Carrier SMS Texting Is In Decline

I generally don’t read USAToday, except while traveling, but a pair of articles on texting caught my attention.

The first, “Sore thumbs? Text messaging declines” (link) talks about the decline of SMS messaging by consumers.  People aren’t texting less, they are sending more messages then ever.  According to the article, Americans sent an estimated 2.2 trillion messages in 2012.  What is in decline is how many of those 2.2 trillion messages are sent and delivered by Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and other wireless carriers.

It place of SMS messaging is the rise in popularity of Internet-based short message service (SMS) applications such as Apple’s iMessage, Snap Chat, BlackBerry Messenger, and all the rest.  Unlike the SMS service you sign up for when you buy a new cell phone, these new texting apps use your phone’s Internet connection rather than the voice network on your cell phone.

So what does this mean?  Well, for one thing, it means that many of us can probably save some money on our monthly cell phone bills.  The days of thousands of dollar monthly bills due to uncontrolled text messaging is probably coming to an end.  My entire family has either an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and we all text each other with iMessages.  The number of pure SMS messages charged against my cell phone’s texting service plan in a month are virtually non-existant.

I once read an article online that spoke about text messaging fees from the big four wireless providers here in the U.S.  I didn’t save a copy of that article, but it essentially said that text messages are sent of the voice portion of the cell phone and that it only costs the phone company a few pennies to send a message.  We, the consumer, are paying anywhere from $0.10 – $0.25 for each message we send and receive.  To illustrate, if I send a text message to a friend on the same wireless service as me, the phone company will make $0.40 – $1.00 on what is really just to messages.  They make money when I send the original message twice (they charge me to send and my friend to receive) and when my friend replies.  Talk about price gouging.

The second article, “Fewer drivers nabbed by texting bans” (link) has to do with texting while driving, a very stupid thing to do, and the efforts of law enforcement to reduce the habit.  That piece, I think will be a different rant altogether.

Apple Releases iOS 6.1.1 for iPhone 4S

Surprise!  Earlier today, Apple released iOS 6.1.1 specifically targeted at the iPhone 4S.

Over the weekend and as late as this afternoon, I was blogging about the first developer release of iOS 6.1.1 with regard to improving Apple’s Maps app, addressing an Exchange Server bug bedeviling corporate customers, and poor battery performance.

This evening, Apple rolled out a very narrowly targeted version of iOS 6.1.1 specifically to address that last problem – poor battery performance with the iPhone 4S.

“This update fixes an issue that could impact cellular performance and reliability for the iPhone 4S.”

The 23MB over-the-air (OTA) update was available on my Sprint and Verizon iPhone 4S handsets.

There is no word on whether or not Apple will release an iOS 6.1.1 for all other current model iDevices or if Apple will just move on to the next version number such as 6.1.2 or 6.2.  We also don’t know when we might expect a fix to the bug in Microsoft’s Exchange Server messaging platform that causes devices running iOS 6.1 to get stuck in a loop when trying to accept an invitation to recurring meetings.

There was no word on when an update to Apple’s Maps application would be made available either.

The iOS 6.1.1 OTA update took about 15-20 minutes start to finish on my iPhone 4S units.  The update is also available as a wired update via iTunes for Mac OS X and Windows PCs.

Are Lumia Smartphone Sales Softer Than Expected?

According to a story in today’s Wall Street Journal (link, subscription required), sales of Nokia’s Lumia Windows Phone 8 smartphones may not be selling in the US as well as carriers had hoped.

Deals on the flagship Lumia 920 and 822 smartphones can be found at online retailers like Amazon.com for as little as $0 – $39 dollars depending on carrier and phone configuration.  For example, the high-end Lumia 920 can, with a new 2-year service agreement, can be purchased for $39 at Amazon.com.  At AT&T stores, the phone is still on sale for $99 with a new 2-year service agreement.  Amazon.com also has the Lumia 822 on Verizon Wireless is free with a new 2-year service agreement.  Without a contract, both the Lumia 920 (AT&T Wireless) and the Lumia 822 (Verizon Wireless) sell for $449.99.

Offering smartphones at a deep discount is not uncommon for phones that have been out for six months or more as a promotion to drive sales of new phones in advance of the next year’s model coming out.  It is also a tactic that manufacturers use with their carrier partners to help drive adoption of their phones and their mobile platform.  What is raising eyebrows is the timing of the discounts.  The Nokia 920 and 822 have not yet reached the six month mark.  We know US adoption of smartphones running Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system hasn’t been selling as well as Microsoft had hoped.

So what’s really going on here?  Are AT&T and Verizon trying to drive sales of these new phones with a limited-time, post Christmas discount program?  Is Nokia providing further incentives or marketing support to drive up their year-end sales numbers?  Is Microsoft somehow involved in an attempt to drive up market share numbers against Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms?

Without sales numbers or an official statement from one of the major players involved it’s hard to know for sure.  Deep discounts on new smartphones are not completely uncommon, however, this close to a new product launch does send up some red flags.

[Via WSJ.com…]

iPhone 5 First Weekend Sales Top Five Million

Not bad for three days of sales.

CUPERTINO, California—September 24, 2012—Apple® today announced it has sold over five million of its new iPhone® 5, just three days after its launch on September 21, and more than 100 million iOS devices have been updated with iOS 6, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system. iPhone 5 is available in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the UK, and will be available in 22 more countries on September 28 and more than 100 countries by the end of the year. Demand for iPhone 5 exceeded the initial supply and while the majority of pre-orders have been shipped to customers, many are scheduled to be shipped in October.

“Demand for iPhone 5 has been incredible and we are working hard to get an iPhone 5 into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “While we have sold out of our initial supply, stores continue to receive iPhone 5 shipments regularly and customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date. We appreciate everyone’s patience and are working hard to build enough iPhone 5s for everyone.”

iPhone 5 is the thinnest and lightest iPhone ever, completely redesigned to feature a stunning new 4-inch Retina™ display; an Apple-designed A6 chip for blazing fast performance; and ultrafast wireless technology*—all while delivering even better battery life.**

* LTE is available through select carriers. Network speeds are dependent on carrier networks, check with your carrier for details.
** Battery life depends on device settings, usage and other factors. Actual results vary.

[Via Apple PR…]

FCC Complaint To Be Filed Against AT&T’s FaceTime Rules

 With Apple’s new iOS 6 operating system being released to current model iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch owners, customers are eager to get the new update on their devices.  But wireless carrier AT&T will be raining on some customer’s parades tomorrow.

iOS 6 is the software that allows the iPhone and iPad do all the amazing things we do with them.  One of the new tent pole features of the software is FaceTime video calling over 3G and 4G cellular networks.  Up until now, it has only been possible to make a FaceTime call over a Wi-Fi connection and iOS 6 aims to change that.

However, AT&T has stated that they will only allow customers who sign up for their new Mobile Share plans will be allowed to place FaceTime calls on their cellular networks.  While customers have been crying foul, AT&T has been trying to limit the congestion on their 3G and 4G LTE networks that caused so much bad press for them with earlier iPhone models, most notably, the 2010 iPhone 4.

When you look at the Mobile Share plans, AT&T tells you that you can have up to 10 devices included on a single share plan.  Then you look at the pricing structure and the sticker shock sets in.

For unlimited, traditional voice calling and text messaging plus 1GB of shared data, you will have to spend $40/mo for the service plus and additional $45/mo for each smartphone participating in the plan.  For 4GB of data, the price jumps up to $70/mo plus $40/mo for each smartphone. AT&T is also offering shared data packages in 6GB, 10GB, 15GB, and a 20GB pool.  The larger the pool of shared data, the larger the base monthly fee is, but the monthly cost per smartphone drops.

As you can see, the monthly totals can add up quickly if you are trying to share a pool of data amongst family members.

And that’s why Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute have banned together to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.  The trio feel that it is unfair for customers to have to buy into a shared data plan like AT&T’s Mobile Share plans just to be able to make a FaceTime call over a cellular network.  While they did provide AT&T with notice of the impending filing, at least publicly, no date has been given as to when the filing will be made.

Customers looking to sign a new service agreement with AT&T do have other options.  Sprint, for example, will be allowing customers who have signed up for their Simply Everything plans ranging from $79.99 – $109.99/month to make FaceTime calls on their network.  Verizon Wireless’ Simplify with Share Everything 4GB share package offers similar features to that of Sprint’s, but will run you about $150/mo when sharing data across two smartphones.

[Via GigoOm.com…]

Apple: iPhone 5 Pre-Orders Top 2 Million in 24-Hours

Earlier today, Apple announced that pre-orders for the iPhone 5, which goes on sale Friday, September 21, sold over 2 million units in the first 24-hours of being available for online ordering.  At this point, if you want an iPhone 5 on launch day, and weren’t able to secure a pre-order slot, you’ll be waiting in line at an Apple Store or at a wireless carrier’s retail location near you.  Apple’s press release appears below.

CUPERTINO, California—September 17, 2012—Apple® today announced pre-orders of its iPhone® 5 topped two million in just 24 hours, more than double the previous record of one million held by iPhone 4S. Demand for iPhone 5 exceeds the initial supply and while the majority of pre-orders will be delivered to customers on September 21, many are scheduled to be delivered in October. iPhone 5 is the thinnest and lightest iPhone ever, completely redesigned to feature a stunning new 4-inch Retina™ display; an Apple-designed A6 chip for blazing fast performance; and ultrafast wireless technology*—all while delivering even better battery life.**

“iPhone 5 pre-orders have shattered the previous record held by iPhone 4S and the customer response to iPhone 5 has been phenomenal,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “iPhone 5 is the best iPhone yet, the most beautiful product we’ve ever made, and we hope customers love it as much as we do.”

iPhone 5 comes with iOS 6, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system with over 200 new user features including: an all new Maps app with Apple-designed cartography, turn-by-turn navigation and an amazing new Flyover™ view; Facebook integration for Contacts and Calendar, with the ability to post directly from Notification Center; Passbook®, the simplest way to get all your passes in one place; new Siri® features, including support for more languages, easy access to sports scores, restaurant recommendations and movie listings;*** Siri and Facebook-enabled apps like Photos, Safari® and Maps; and Shared Photo Streams via iCloud®.

Pricing & Availability
iPhone 5 will be available at 356 Apple retail stores in the US beginning at 8 a.m. local time on Friday, September 21. Every customer who buys an iPhone 5 at an Apple retail store will be offered free Personal Setup service, helping them customize their iPhone 5 by setting up email, showing them new apps from the App Store and more, so they’ll be up and running with their new iPhone before they leave the store.

iPhone 5 comes in either white & silver or black & slate, and will be available in the US for a suggested retail price of $199 (US) for the 16GB model and $299 (US) for the 32GB model and $399 (US) for the 64GB model. iPhone 5 will be available from the Apple Online Store (www.apple.com), Apple’s retail stores, and through AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, select Best Buy, RadioShack, Target and Walmart stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers. iPhone 4S will also be available for just $99 (US) and iPhone 4 will be available for free with a two-year contract.****

* LTE is available through select carriers. Network speeds are dependent on carrier networks, check with your carrier for details.
** Battery life depends on device settings, usage and other factors. Actual results vary.
*** Not all features are supported in all countries.
**** Availability varies by carrier.

Motorola DROID 4 on Sale at Verizon

The latest version of the popular Motorola DROID, the DROID 4, is now available for $199.99 at Verizon with a qualify new service contract.

“The sleek QWERTY slider features a 4-inch qHD display, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 4G LTE connectivity, 1GB of RAM and an 8-megapixel rear camera, and it is being billed as the “thinnest and most powerful 4G QWERTY smartphone.””

The DROID 4 ships with Google Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread.  I would have liked to see Motorola’s new flagship phone ship with the latest build of Android, 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, while I’m sure will be long as soon as Motorola and get Verizon to certify it.

Of the few Android phones that I’ve used, I do like the Motorola DROID line of smartphones the best.  The HTC Android phones have their slick UI skin, but I think that Motorola’s UI is cleaner and just gets out of the way and lets you use the phone.

The full specs for the new DROID 4 can be found on the Motorola Mobility website.

[Via BGR.com…]

Motorola Teases the Droid 4

BGR has what appears to be a photo of Motorola’s upcoming Droid 4 handset.  The fourth edition of the “Droid” family is rumored to have “[s]pecs [that] include a 4-inch qHD display, Android 2.3.5, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 4G LTE compatibility.”

BRG also seems to think that the Droid 4 could be released as early as next week.

[Via BGR.com…]

Apple iPhone 4S Ordering “Adventure” (Updated)

10/7/11 7:25am: Hope springs eternal!  After arguing with my bank and getting them to agree that my credit card was not expired, I was able to pre-order the iPhone 4S 32GB directly from Sprint’s website.  The estimated arrival date of my new iPhone 4S is Friday, October 14, or Saturday, October 15.

10/7/11 5:40am: It’s time to throw in the towel!  The connection to Sprint’s systems aren’t working and I keep getting pushed into the $109/month service plan.  I’m going to have to wait for Apple and Sprint to iron out the kinks before I can order my iPhone 4S.  I’ve stayed up all night and all I have to show for it are bags under my eyes.  Grrrrr!

10/7/11 5:20am: The Apple Store/Sprint link appears to be working again, but I still can’t get a clear step of options for my cellular service plans. So far, my efforts to switch to an iPhone have been fruitless.

10/7/11 5:00am: Sam was able to reserve an iPhone 4S on AT&T.  I’m crashing when the Apple site goes out to check my account status on Sprint with a really annoying “WS.workflowSessionValidationFailed.webUIBody” error message.

10/7/11 4:48am: Just checked in with my fellow iPhone enthusiast, Sam, who is now getting the same error message as me.  At almost 5:00am, it’s time to throw in the towel on getting an iPhone for Friday, October 14.

10/7/11 4:42am: The Apple Store is now throwing up a message that they can no longer process any iPhone orders and that you should try back again later.  Double ugh!

10/7/11 4:12am: I’ve lost track of how many times the ordering process has crashed on me.  Ugh!

10/7/11 4:12am: Continuing to have trouble with the Apple Store site.  Poor performance, ordering processes crashes, and unable to select the $79.99 Simply Everything plan.

10/7/11: 3:45am: The Apple Store is taking forever to update and I’m stuck at the “Processing information” page.

10/7/11: 3:45am: The Apple Store site is getting hammered!  It is so slow to load data from Sprint.

10/7/11: 3:43am: The Store is online and I’m attempting to purchase my Sprint iPhone4S.

I’m not so patiently awaiting the Apple.com Store to go back online for I can order my Apple iPhone 4S for Sprint. I’ll be purchasing the 32GB black edition…eventually.

10/7/11: 3:29am: Pre-orders for the iPhone 4S were suppose to start at 12:01am PDT/3:01am EDT and the store is still down.

Apple Store