Tag Archives: AT&T

Good Vibrations: Future Skeleton Keys and Hard-Working Tattoos

AT&T Labs is working on a system in which your cell phone or wristwatch would create a unique vibration that travels through your bones, reaching a receiver in a door handle and automatically unlocking the door. (The vibration can’t be felt but would be audible in a silent room.)

On a related but not as new note: Nokia has filed for a patent on a magnetic vibrating tattoo. According to the patent, the tattoo (really more of a skin graft) could be set so that each time you get a call or email, you would feel a different vibration pattern.

Author: Susan Hallinan


Vanguardian Crashes Engadget NYC Reader Meetup

On Thursday, August 25, I raced from our office across town to attend tech blog Engadget’s NYC Reader Meetup. This open-to-the-public mobile communications event was scheduled for 6:30 pm at Gustavino’s, an elegant steel and glass meeting space built into the stone foundation of the Queensboro Bridge ––known to locals and 60s pop-culture fans (see Simon & Garfunkel: “Feelin’ Groovy”) as the “59th Street Bridge.”

When I arrived at 5:45, a line of mostly 20- and 30-something techies stretched around the corner onto First Avenue, under the bridge, and onto the next block. For those in line, texting and tweeting was, of course, the order of the day. Doors opened on time, and getting in was far more orderly and friendly than at the average music show or sports event.

Once inside, I found both floors dismayingly jammed—a condition that waxed to the extreme as time passed. But we’re used to crowds in New York, and I soldiered on, bellying up to various bars to ask questions about and briefly caress dozens of smartphones and tablets. Most of the major players, including AT&T, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and RIM (BlackBerry) were in the house. Other exhibitors included: AC Gears, a Japan-based retailer of headphones and other mobile accessories; set-top media server maker Boxee; and Cadence, makers of the geek-chic 4-Bit Chrono Watch. Amidst the hubbub, two well-lit graffiti artists were for some reason creating a mural in real time, dispensing toxic paint fumes as they worked.

A tantalizing alcove into which I wandered turned out to host a popular, multi-outlet recharging station—essential with all the power-hungry devices in the house.

Steam tables and wandering, tray-bearing caterers supplied a better-than-average offering of complimentary food, including tiny “slider” burgers, chicken potpies, mac and cheese, and small squares of assorted diet transgressions. Several watering holes dispensed soda and juice. Skipping the alcohol option, whatever Engadget’s reason, helped keep the crowd just this side of surly-mob-hood.

Astute readers may be wondering: Where was the 700-pound gorilla on the mobile electronic scene, aka Apple Inc? It was absent and—sorry, fanboys and girls—not especially missed. RIM notwithstanding, this event was by and large a celebration of all things Android. I briefly wondered whether Apple’s absence might be due to lingering bad feelings over Engadget’s involvement, along with rival blog Gizmodo, in the affair of the iPhone 4 prototype left in a Redwood City bar by hapless Apple employee Gray Powell. But then I considered the balancing absence of Microsoft, together with a lack of direct presence by Google, and decided it was all good.

I’m more or less in the market for a phone to replace my one year+ ancient HTC EVO 4G, and a highlight for me among the many candidates on hand was the Motorola Photon—carried, like the EVO, by Sprint. Event swag, in my case, amounted to a couple of branded stress balls and a pair of cheap shades. But I didn’t stick around for the last two or three on-the-hour raffles and may have missed winning something that way. Apparently, the raffle did not include the way-desirable, all-electric Mini Cooper parked out front. I felt better about cutting out early after finding that out.

Everything displayed is currently available, and it occurred to me that one could try out nearly all of it in a much more relaxed milieu by visiting Best Buy, or even one’s chosen phone store, at an off-hour time of day. Admittedly, minus the “tribal gathering” vibe, many attendees no doubt enjoyed the Meetup at Gustavino’s. The product representatives didn’t seem able, or at liberty, to share any juicy factoids or prognostications that aren’t generally available. When I asked the otherwise friendly, helpful Motorola rep about a possible path forward for currently floundering Google TV via Motorola set-top boxes, he shrugged and said, “I get those kinds of rumors the same place as you … Engadget!”

Author: John Wehmeyer

AT&T ShopAlerts: Another Means of Mass Advertising

On February 28, 2011, AT&T Advanced Ad Solutions announced a new advertising product called ShopAlerts. The announcement is the first by any US mobile carrier for location-based, opt-in advertising. AT&T will release the service in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco.

The technology is rather simple. AT&T draws a geo-fence around a particular area, and once a customer who has opted in enters this area, he or she receives an offer, presumably via text. The same geo-fence principles have been available in smartphone apps since the introduction of GPS into handhelds to remind users of particular tasks to complete when in a specific area or to automatically check in to Foursquare to overthrow the current ”mayor.”

Big-name brands––HP, Kmart, JetBlue, and SC Johnson, among others––are behind this initial push. These same big brands, which already have strong social media presences, will now be able totarget the eyeballs and wallets of densely populated US cities.

How will this new technology further muddy the advertising waters?

To opt in to AT&T ShopAlerts, click here.

Full AT&T Press Release

Author: John Carew

iPhone 4 + Verizon + Marketing: Why You Should Care

Two years of waiting, endless speculation, leaks, and hypotheses have ended  with Verizon’s iPhone 4 announcement, but what does that mean for marketing professionals trying to hit the right chord with their clients?

Some say that Verizon may be on a collision course with the same user base that drove AT&T’s customer service ratings to the bottom of the list. The other picture coming into focus as the dust settles may be a move from the Death Star  toward Big Red that ultimately levels the network issue that AT&T claims causes much of its customers’ strife. Either way, Apple sits on the edge of an estimated 96 million potential users, with some 15 million iPhones expected to fly off the shelves by year’s end, not to mention the phones purchased by those who live throughout the US in areas where AT&T’s coverage does not live up to its advertising hype.

This huge potential new customer pool, coupled with the recent news that Android is now the number two mobile operating system on the planet (just after Blackberry), creates an interesting predicament for marketers, advertisers, and communication professionals. Which platform do you invest in: Google’s Android, with its open source and massive momentum in the marketplace, or Apple’s iOS, with its two-year head start on the competition and a substantial user base that has become addicted to the “i” applications and hardware mania? Hard decision? Yes, most definitely, but realize this: users may wait to switch until the annual June/July Apple iPhone hardware announcement mayhem, however small or large it may be. The early adopters who made the switch from other carriers will feel the pain of the lack of simultaneous voice and data usage, while Verizon customers who upgrade to the iPhone will rave about the new device on their beloved “Big Red” carrier.

Now one detail has yet to be hashed out: the data plan structure and costs. How will they compare to AT&T, and what, if any, will be the incentive Verizon dangles to lure new contracts? Let’s hope it is more that just the potential to actually be able to “hear me now” without dropping the call a dozen times while standing in Penn Station.

But wait, did we mention the rumored iOS 4.3 will support Wi-Fi sharing from the iPhone 4? Now that detail, as insignificant as it may seem to the average user, can be a big factor for those customers looking for phone and broadband access. Someday in the future, a wireless carrier and landline provider will sell a joint package where a customer has access to the Internet from the pipe of his or her choosing and the ability to swap pipes very easily and as often as he or she wishes, but until that day comes, a leading handset coupled with the ability to share wireless broadband with up to 5 devices is a step in the right direction. So if a prediction is required, read this loud and clear: the next 8–11 months will decide the future of the market strength not only of the iPhone but of iOS as a leading operating system for mobile devices and the future of the marketplace. If by CES 2012 iPhone sales have not surpassed those of all other handsets (besides Blackberry devices) on the Verizon and AT&T networks, Android will have continued to gain market share.