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Day September 16, 2010

ChaCha set to dump T-Mobile over ‘Twitter tax’

I have worked as a guide for ChaCha off and on since January. The premise of the service is simple. Users text questions to the short code CHACHA (242242) and receive realtime SMS responses from live, independently contracted ‘guides’ around the clock. Virtually any question can be asked, and answers — many of which require efficient online research by real human beings — are usually provided within minutes. The service is provided for free to all users and is funded by serving targeted mobile advertisements to them.

Notwithstanding certain issues such as usage limits and inaccurate or outdated information, ChaCha has seen phenomenal growth in use and popularity since it first unveiled its text answering service in January 2008. Currently, they rank sixth in volume of SMS messages sent in the US after Twitter, Facebook, ESPN, 4INFO, and Fox. According to recent figures revealed by the company, “ChaCha has more than 15 million monthly unique users for whom we answer over 2 million questions every day.”

A text messaging service like ChaCha relies on fixed pricing per unit time to remain sustainable, let alone profitable. This is what the nation’s fourth largest carrier is proposing to change on October 1 of this year. T-Mobile is looking to charge all businesses $0.0025 per text sent instead of a flat fee per month. This so-called ‘Twitter tax’ amounts to variable and likely untenable costs to SMS services that send text messages in bulk.

The result is that ChaCha — and some if not all other companies listed above — will pull its services from T-Mobile entirely to remain cost effective. This could potentially be a serious inconvenience for T-Mobile’s existing customers, and may deter others from signing with a carrier that already has problems gaining subscribers. 4INFO also reminds us that “Verizon Wireless considered a similar charge in 2008, but relented under consumer and industry pressure, helping to enable the vibrant mobile service programs that exist today.”

Source: ChaCha via TechCrunch

iOS 4.2 beta 1 available for developers, brings multitasking to iPad

Apparently, IE9 wasn’t the only notable beta release announced yesterday. With iOS 4.1 going public only last week, Apple has taken the initiative to seed developers with the fruits of its next labor. Announced at Apple’s media event on September 1, iOS 4.2 will be available for all iDevices come November save for the original iPhone and iPod Touch.

iPad owners, however, have a special reason to rejoice over iOS 4.2’s imminent release as it will finally bring the iPad on par with its brethren. That’s right, the iPad will finally get multitasking, folders, a unified inbox, threaded messaging and Game Center, the first four of which have been available for iPhones and iPods Touch since iOS 4.0 was released back in June.

Also coming in iOS 4.2 will be two new wireless services dubbed AirPrint and AirPlay. As their names suggest, AirPrint will enable iOS devices to directly print mail, photos, web pages and more over a wireless network, while AirPlay will allow them to wirelessly stream and share multimedia with other AirPlay supported devices, including but not limited to Apple TV and AirPort Express. Subtler enhancements that have been gleaned in iOS 4.2 include the ability to search within a web page in Safari and the option to use Helvetica in lieu of Marker Felt in the Notes app.

Developers can get in on the action now by clicking the source link below. For the rest of us, though, November can’t come soon enough.

Source: Apple via Gizmodo

IE9 beta ready for download

Internet Explorer has come a long way. Yesterday, Microsoft released the public beta of version 9 of the once de facto standard in web browsing. Although Internet Explorer still maintains market dominance, in recent years, it has seen its lead rapidly decline to more efficient, extensible, and web-compliant competitors such as Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome.

Gone are the days of bloated UI, frustrating performance, and egregious lack of compliance to modern web technologies. IE9 seeks to remedy everything that went wrong with Internet Explorer and appears to do so splendidly. IE9 was designed with speed and efficiency as its primary goal and leverages the freshest web standards, including HTML5, while employing a much cleaner interface. IE9, of course, defaults to Bing for search.

You can give IE9 beta a test drive by clicking the source link below. Sorry Macheads — Windows only, for now.

Source: Microsoft via TechCrunch