There isn’t much to report besides everything turned out great and I love the result. It feels and looks like my iPhone, only in gold. The only con to AnoStyle, at least for the gold color option, is that the text below “iPhone” on the back is now extremely faint. Other than that, I feel like I own a limited edition iPhone (dusts shoulder off), and at least four people have asked me how I managed to snag a gold iPhone.
We were on hand in New York City today to watch the unveiling of the iPhone on T-Mobile and its new LTE/plans that purport to save T-Mobile customers a lot of money over its U.S. competitors.
T-Mobile tipped us to its grand plan to become the ‘Uncarrier’ at CES in January 2013. The idea is to radically simplify the phone plan purchasing experience by cutting away most complexities of the carrier agreements. The effort was very forward thinking and Apple-like in that sense, and the results are certainly a big change for the industry.
You basically start with a $50 a month unlimited data plan and go from there. T-Mobile will throttle you after 500MB, unless you give them $10 or $20 more a month, which gives you 2GB or unlimited before un-throttling. Family plans are $30 for the first extra device and $10 for each one thereafter. I imagine most normals will pay $50 a month. That’s a lot less than the typical iPhone user pays.
But, let’s not kid ourselves on what’s motivating T-Mobile here. It has been losing customers like crazy and that’s largely due to its failure to carry the iPhone. The iPhone represents well over half of all smartphones on every other big U.S. carrier, and it will likely dominate T-Mobile over the next few years. T-Mobile said that even though it won’t officially support the iPhone until April 12, it currently has over 2.1 million iPhones on the network. That’s about to skyrocket…
CEO John Legere comes from over a decade at Global Crossing, an IP Data backbone firm, so cutting through all the B.S. and delivering fat delicious packets of data is his specialty.
Samsung officially unveiled its flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone last night at a theatrical, Broadway-style presentation in New York, and analysts are quick to jump in today with opinions on what it means for Apple. AAPL is having a decent morning hitting a high of 442.50 and opinions from analysts seem to be split down the middle regarding whether the S4 has what it takes to cut into Apple’s market share.
Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray doesn’t seem too impressed with the S4 upgrade but noted Samsung’s new S Band is “a quick first pass for Samsung on wearable technology ahead of Apple’s watch. Munster added that he expects Apple to launch its smart watch product by 2014 (via Barron’s):
The Galaxy S4 appears to be largely an incremental update to the S3 including a slightly larger screen (4% larger on diagonal), better camera and processor, and updated software, but largely the same body style and casing. We believe some of the software features are unique, including the tilt to scroll, video pausing based on facial recognition, and hand gesture based interactions, but view these software improvements as minor compared with what Siri was to the iPhone 4S or even Google Now to Android.
Over the past few weeks, Mophie has released two new battery cases for the iPhone 5: the Juice Pack Helium (above, right) and the Juice Pack Air (above, left). Both cases are similar in functionality, but both offer their own unique pros and cons. Read on after the break for our reviews.
Verizon CFO Fran Shammo spoke at the Duetsche Bank Annual Media, Internet & Telecom conference this morning, where he was asked a few questions related to the iPhone. Verizon reported its fourth quarter 2012 earnings last month with 9.8 million smartphone activations—a record 6.2 million of which were iPhone. We knew about half, or 3.1 million, of those iPhone sales were driven by the first full quarter with the iPhone 5, but today Shammo talked about just how important getting the free iPhone 4 was during the quarter:
But this past fourth quarter you had a couple — you had really one thing happen that never happened before, especially with Verizon Wireless, and that was for the first time ever, because of the iPhone 5 launch, we had the 4 at free. So it was the first time ever you could get a free iPhone on the
Verizon Wireless network. So that produced a lot of volume for us. We had a lot of new customers come into Verizon who took that free phone, and that was great for us because again if you think about — we sold a lot of LTE product in the fourth quarter. We sold a lot of 3G product from the iPhone products in the fourth quarter.
But that is key for us, because if you think about our two networks it is important for me as I migrate people into the 4G network I still have this very large 3G network that operates very efficiently. We are not investing any more capital in that network other than to keep it up and running, so no more coverage capital, no more capacity capital. If I can keep that network up and running that just generates more contribution margins for us. So it is critical for us to balance that. But, again, I think you had one point in time where you had a free phone, a free Apple phone that never happened before with us and that generated a lot of volume.
While noting that 53 percent of the carrier’s smartphone activations were iPhones in 2012, Shammo was asked about the opportunity to incentivize employees to sell non-Apple devices that would also come with lower subsidies for Verizon:
The answer is, no, we don’t and it is critical that we don’t do that. The reason for that is because what is more important for us is when a customer walks into a store that customer walks out with a phone that they will be happy with and not return under our 30-day guarantee. Because the worst thing that can happen for us is for me to incentivise a salesperson to get you into a phone that you walk out the door with thinking you are going to like and in three days you come back because you don’t like it. Therefore, now I’ve just subsidized two smartphones because that phone you used I can’t resell as a new phone.
You can read more from Shammo’s presentation and where he discusses the growth of Share Everything plans, tablets, and more here.
Update: While it’s hard to read too much into these reports, Foxconn told The Wall Street Journal the freeze on hiring is a result of ”a high employee return rate following the Lunar New Year holiday.”
According to the report from Financial Times, Apple’s major assembly partner Foxconn has halted new hiring at its facilities due to a slow down in production for the iPhone 5:
The suspension in hiring by China’s largest private sector employer and the biggest assembler of Apple products, is the first such countrywide move since the 2009 downturn, prompted by the financial crisis. It underscores the weakening demand for some Apple products, which has put pressure on the US company’s battered share price.
Foxconn confirmed it is not currently hiring in its plants located in mainland China, and FT reported the company’s employees were informed that hiring would stop until at least the end of March “in response to reduced orders for the iPhone 5.” While the iPhone 5 doesn’t seem to be experiencing a slow down, according to the latest numbers from Strategy Analytics, the March time frame would line up nicely with rumors of iPhone 5S production beginning in March. Many analysts are calling for a June or July launch of the next-generation iPhone, and Apple could begin initial production as early as next month if true. The decreased production at Foxconn is likely thanks to the expected falloff in new sales in the months following the busy holiday season. Less likely is speculation that Apple could be switching manufacturers.
Recruiters in China told FT that Foxconn has stopped hiring specifically for the iPhone and iPad production lines in many of its factories: