One thing that was overlooked — and perhaps strategically underplayed — during its fourth quarter earnings call is that AT&T is now the nation’s largest mobile carrier boasting 95.5 million subscribers to Verizon’s 94.1 million.
AT&T’s climb to reclaim the top spot from rival Verizon after Big Red’s acquisition of Alltel Wireless 2 years ago has been an arduous one fueled in large part by Ma Bell’s lock on Apple’s iPhone. However, that 1.4 million subscriber lead may be short-lived with iPhone exclusivity set to end within a fortnight as Verizon prepares to offer its customers a CDMA variant of the iPhone 4 beginning February 10.
Regardless of the outcome, AT&T’s fourth quarter earnings are impressive with a record 2.8 million new adds reflecting ‘rapid adoption of smartphones’, 4.1 million iPhone activations and 442,000 tablet subscribers, all contributing to $31.4 billion in total revenue (up 2.1%) and $1.1 billion in net income (down 60%).
Although growth is likely to stall this coming quarter with Apple’s darling headed to Big Red, it remains to be seen exactly how much the loss of iPhone exclusivity affects AT&T in the long run. AT&T has repeatedly emphasized it is more than just a one-trick pony touting a diverse portfolio of integrated devices and hyping its accelerated deployment of ‘4G’ mobile broadband technologies such as HSPA+ and LTE. In any case, increased efforts to upgrade and improve the existing network to be on par with its device offerings would go a long way to silence critics and keep the momentum in AT&T’s favor.
Interested in freeing your phone number from your carrier’s clutches for good? Well, for some Google Voice users that dream is now reality.
Google is currently testing the feature on select users with the intent to roll it out to everyone ‘in the near future’. To see if the feature is available to you, sign into your Google Voice account and click on Voice Settings under the Settings tab located in the upper right. If your lucky, a Change/Port option will reside beside your current Google Voice number.
The process of porting a number to Google Voice is simple, but not without drawbacks. First of all, you are charged a $20 transaction fee via Google Checkout for the privilege. The porting process would also immediately cancel your current contract with your wireless carrier resulting in a potentially hefty early termination fee. Furthermore, your current Google Voice number is forfeited, although you will still have access to it for 90 days to inform everyone of the change. Finally, you still need to find another carrier for those newly emancipated digits — Google isn’t a mobile service provider yet. It’s also worth noting that not all numbers are currently eligible for the porting process, e.g. those of landlines and mobile businesses aren’t currently supported.
Having said that, can you really put a price on freedom? With your primary phone number tied to your Google Voice account, you can now manage calls and messages across multiple lines more naturally. Bar the obsolescence of the phone number itself, it’s the way mobile should be. So go ahead and make your phone number yours.
Yes, the iPhone will most likely be on Verizon early next year. Yes, there are plenty of awesome Android phones to be had for less than 2 Benjamins on contract. And yes, dual-core smartphones that run circles around the mobile devices of today — like the LG Optimus 2X — will become a dime a dozen in 2011. But if you want to experience Android like it was meant to be, Google’s Nexus S is the phone to get.
Michael Arrington on ‘the best phone on the market today’:
The bottom line is this. If you are an iPhone user this isn’t going to make you switch. If you’re an Android user you will want this phone more than any other. If you’re currently neither, we recommend that you go with the Nexus S. It is better than the iPhone in most ways. What you lose with the slightly less impressive screen and iOS’s slightly slicker user experience you will more than make up for with the Nexus S’s ability to actually make phone calls that don’t drop and Google’s exceptional Navigation and voice input applications. The fact that the phone is unlocked and can be used abroad with other carriers is also a very big plus.
I’m glad to see Google hasn’t completely abandoned their Nexus line designed to their specifications and running stock Android. By all accounts, the Nexus S looks like a top-notch phone that should serve as a reference design for the next wave of Android handsets. The curved screen is intriguing and Android 2.3 Gingerbread seems to have brought some much needed UI improvements. I am especially pleased to see that Android 2.3 and the Nexus S support Near Field Communication — a technology that should see wide-scale adoption in 2011.
The Nexus S will be available exclusively at Best Buy in the US. It can be had completely unlocked for $529 or $199 with a 2-year T-Mobile contract. If you want the best phone, the Nexus S is your best bet. If you want the best mobile device, however, it’s still the iPhone 4.
What highly anticipated unreleased smartphone would be complete without the obligatory blurry spy video catching it in action on the streets of a foreign country? This video from the folks of Techblog.gr espies Sony Ericsson’s PlayStation Phone in the wild on the streets of Greece. Little can be gleaned from the video other than a glimpse of the admittedly butter-smooth scrolling of the PSPhone’s UI.
The PlayStation Phone, codenamed Zeus, is a 4″ touchscreen phone with slide-out gaming controls à la PSP Go running the hitherto unreleased Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The PSPhone will have access to a special Sony Marketplace for download of exclusive game content. Reports of those who have seen the phone in action describe it as being slick and a legitimately satisfying mobile gaming experience. The PlayStation Phone is also rumored to have a resolution rivaling that of the iPhone 4’s eye-popping retina display. The PSPhone will most likely be released sometime in the first quarter of 2011.
For Sony-Ericsson’s sake — and for all those who have been impatiently waiting for a truly dedicated gaming phone — I hope the PlayStation Phone lives up to the hype. SE has always had a knack for designing lustworthy hardware, but a combination of repeatedly delayed shipments and an inability to update current devices to the latest Android OS in a timely fashion have consigned Sony-Ericsson to the back of the pack. The PSPhone is SE’s chance to catapult itself to the front of an increasingly competitive yet stale Android hardware race with an innovative mobile device that has the potential to push past the iPhone in revolutionizing the mobile gaming market.
The Palm Pre 2 is now available, and if you’ve been wanting to get your hands on one to use as a developer device, HP wants to help. We’re excited to announce that developers will be able to purchase an unlocked UMTS Palm Pre 2 smartphone online in the United States at a $200 discount. Just send an email to email@example.com to request a coupon!
A really sweet deal for webOS developers on the Pre 2. Kudos, Palm!
You can now purchase a completely unlocked Palm Pre 2 from HP here in the US for a very reasonable $449.99. The Palm Pre 2 is powered by TI’s 1GHz OMAP 3630 chipset and has 512MB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The distinctive sliding portrait keyboard remains as does the respectable albeit dated HVGA display, although the front face now uses Corning’s Gorilla Glass. The camera has also been upgraded with a 5-megapixel sensor, but is still fixed focus.
Of course, the real appeal of the Palm Pre 2 is that it is currently the only device running HP webOS 2.0 — the latest version of the killer smartphone OS Palm awed the world with at CES 2009. webOS 2.0 is slated to hit all other Palm devices ‘in the coming months’ and a plethora of new devices — including a tablet — are slated for 2011.
If you insist on having webOS 2.0 now or are a developer eager to get started with webOS development, the Palm Pre 2 is an excellent device with hardware on par with all the latest and greatest smartphones and software that eclipses nearly everything else on the market. The Pre 2 will also be available on Verizon before year’s end for those who don’t mind a contract with Big Red.
Update: webOS developers can get an unlocked Pre 2 for $250.