Verizon unveils 1 year “Device Payment Plan” for yearly updaters, moves full subsidies to 24 months

Verizon announced a few notable changes this week, possibly in response to T-Mobile’s new ‘Uncarrier’ pricing structure.

The first change enforces 24-month contracts and restricts subsidized upgrades during that period. Customers will no longer enjoy ‘early upgrades’ after 20-months, as was previously the policy.

While the change may disappoint customers who enjoyed upgrading their devices more frequently, Verizon told The Verge that a new “Device Payment Plan” will be accompany the policy changes.

The new payment plan allows customers to upgrade their smartphone annually by paying the upgrade fee at the register and dividing the rest of the full-retail price over 12 months. This payment plan will include a $2/month finance charge through the duration of the year.

For people like us who update annually, this option is a more pragmatic approach, especially when vendors like Gazelle (as well as others) typically pay more than the subsidized cost of a new smartphone for last year’s smartphone.

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Apple to pay $53 million in class-action suit following iPhone warranty policy

via Flickr

Bring your faulty iPhone into your local Apple Store and probably the first thing the technician behind the Genius Bar troubleshooting your device will do is check the status of Liquid Contact Indicator, which signals excessive exposure to water.

This hidden tape strip reacts to moisture and can be found in your device’s headphone jack and charging port. The status of your warranty coverage depends on its color: if it is white, you pass, which means you are probably not responsible for replacement costs; if it is pink, your warranty is void, which can lead to expensive repair costs.

Apple’s practice of not honoring its hardware warranty based on this practice led to a class action lawsuit against the company in California.

Apple has reportedly agreed to pay up to the tune of $53 million in a settlement, nearly $16 million of which will go toward the legal counsel of the plaintiffs, and should be filed in a San Francisco federal court in the coming days, according to Wired.com.

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Apple nears ‘iRadio’ streaming deal with Warner and Universal in a dozen markets, royalties on par with Pandora rates

We’ve heard no end of rumors of a streaming Radio player from Apple.  We even found pay radio buttons in the iPad’s music player app code earlier this year:

The Apple radio service, once rumored for late 2012 to Q1/2013, has now been pushed back to mid-late 2013 because of difficulty signing the labels. Today the Verge says that Warner is all but signed up at rates comparable to what Pandora pays the labels  – which is to say a lot. Earlier reports put Apple’s asking price much lower.

Apple is expected to sign its first interner radio licensing agreement with a major record label perhaps as soon as next week, multiple sources with knowledge of the talks have told The Verge…Apple initially offered to pay 6 cents per 100 songs streamed, or about half of what Pandora pays. Now, Apple will pay rates nearly “neck and neck” with Pandora, one of the sources said.

Update: CNET reports that Universal is also close to signing and that Apple is hoping to go into a dozen territories by summer:

The press has dubbed the service iRadio, in negotiations with the labels Apple is referring to it as its “new streaming service,” says a source…Apple is building some unique features, such as the ability to jump back to the beginning of a song…Apple is hoping to quickly unveil the service in up to a dozen territories, according to sources, including the U.K, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan.

We’re hoping that Apple has an announcement to make at WWDC, if not earlier.

BlackBerry 10 launch by the numbers: Over 50% returns, 71% of people don’t want under any circumstances, 83% of Americans unaware it even launched (Updated)

via theapplelounge.com

via theapplelounge.com

Six years after Apple took the smartphone industry by surprise with its release of the iPhone, former market leader BlackBerry Limited, or RIM as it called itself until just recently, launched what some consider to be a true iPhone competitor.

The problem is that almost no one has seemed to notice. A recent poll by MKM Partners reveals that an overwhelming 83% of Americans do not know that BlackBerry has launched their new BlackBerry Z10 smartphone or  new Blackberry 10 platform.

The company’s trouble does not just include marketing woes. The Wall Street Journal reports that over 50% of customers have returned their BlackBerry smartphones after trying out the platform.

That is not to say that BlackBerry hasn’t reached the top of any list. We learned today that BlackBerry is the most undesirable smart phone, learning that 71% of people would not consider the BlackBerry under any circumstances.

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Apple Stores pushing new table-based sales strategy, minor emphasis on third-party product support

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Apple is slowly rolling out a new customer service initiative across its retail stores called ‘table selling.’ With the new strategy, Apple Store employees are assigned a product table where they are responsible for working with groups of customers with different needs, albeit the same device, according to people familiar with the strategy. Previously, customers were individually helped on a first-come, first-serve basis and organized by an “iQueue” system that often resulted in lengthy wait times and customers walking out.

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