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June 30, 2007

3 out of 4 iPhone friends have to return to a store

I'm on an email list from the ITP masters program I attended. These are the folks you expect to buy an iPhone. People with years of computer experience, a Master's degree in interactive media. These are the people you want to take care of if you're apple, because they all have blogs, and they are all influencers of purchases of other.

4 intrepid early adopters set out to purchase iPhones yesterday, and all four obtained them. None of them had a working iPhone last night.

AT&T was taking 6-12 hours to "port" the number of one person, initials LG (not the phone). LG is lucky enough to spend weekends in Fire Island, with nary an AT&T store in sight. She will be looking at the demo screen all weekend until the magic email arrives that activates his phone. And she's the lucky one of the group.

FF got email that said his activation was in progress, then another that said:    "Your activation requires more time to complete" and as of this morning still not working. After talking to the phone activation guru via phone, he found he has some sort of Password on his account that he doesn't know. He was going to the store.

GC has been an AT&T customer so long they "couldn't change her account to a more current account that could accept an iPhone."
She said:

"The guy on the phone tried to convert my account to a new AT&T/Cingular account but apparently he didn't have access to dummy SIM cards, so I was told to GO BACK to the AT&T store to have my account converted.  Got to the store...and the security guard tried to make me go back in the iPhone line!!!!!!!!!  There was supposed to be one customer service rep available to assist non-iPhone related issues.  But the guard wouldn't let me in."

Finally, there's LP who read the accounts of the three previous friends and said "hell with this" and got a 7am Genius Bar appointment at 5th avenue to activate her phone. Hers is working as I got this email at 8:55 am:

There are  still both models here at fifth ave.

Sent from my iPhone

LP, you're such a tease.

All had the problem that I twittered about last night.

Apple's iTunes 7.3 messes up your iTunes library file. My call to AppleCare yielded me the info that they're desperately working on 7.3.1 and to downgrade to 7.2 which I did. 7.2 can be found here http://oldapps.com/download_iTunes_mac.php  if you don't wish to rebuild all your playlists and re-find all your music.

So, for a company that prides itself on experience over all, I'd say Apple was sunk in the initial launch by AT&T's ineptitude at handling a bunch of high-value, early adopter customers.

Me, I'm waiting for iPhone 2.0. Or maybe one of those Nokia N95s that friends are recommending.


UPDATES: FF - Waited on line  at the AT&T store and heard this:
"Turns  out if you have a family plan, the iphone cannot be added to the 
primary number!  So like 11 hours later that's the problem? The email 
didn't come cos of that!!!! (activation email i was promised oh at 
like 1am). Ofcourse, my phone is deactivated because the primary is 
knocked out now, so they sent me to an instore phone..."

FF couldn't wait for the hold time, so he has to wait to lunch time to go back. FF had been in line with another customer, same issue. How STUPID is AT&T. If you have a family plan, as in "ALL MY BUSINESS IS WITH YOU" for my whole family, they won't let you buy and add a $600 dollar phone to your plan.

LP updates that she went to the Apple store, but it turns out that because she had called AT&T a few days ago to check her account and make sure she was good for the upgrade, it was a painless experience.

Friend #5 from the list got a phone with no issues. Hey, 4 out of 5 iPhone users had some difficulty with the experience. None were dentists.


See the Nadleroni's take on iPhone, curmudgeon that he is.


Second Update, direct from FF:
Now about ATT & APPLE. I completely agree Lisa. At some point that 5
yr exclusive should really be considered. I hope there was a clause
in it for royal screwups. Do you know that the ATT rep i spoke to,
the one responsible for sending me to the Ninjas...was a young
whippersnapper from FL who basically told me that its an iTunes issue
in terms of processing stuff. She did prove one thing though that my
SIM was working and that ATT had done their part. I said prove it and
she did. I was able to take the SIM card out my iPhone, plug it into
my old phone and make phone calls. A minor detail that would have
been nice to know oh, 36hrs ago cos i would have been at least able
to use A phone if not my iPhone. Anyway, she was partially correct
that ATT had infact activated my SIM. BUT turns out she wasn't
correct about everything. The fact is that iTunes needs to
authenticate your phone with not only the iTunes player but the SIM
card and other hardware (remember steps 10 & 9) information from your
phone, which is then combined with how you are referenced on the ATT
side, including a very important switch called STATUS.

The Ninja says to me. "Oh, this is why you're not activated yet. Your
status had been set to processed/confirmed rather than activated." He
further explained that my decision to add the $10 - 1500 text
messages feature had created a HOLD in my activation process which
instead of saying activated, placed my status in the confirmed but on
HOLD.

I was completely blown away, because 36 hours ago none of the 8
customer care folks who reviewed my accounts had caught that. AND he
said it that SOMEONE had infact made that change to my account,
probably at the time they were upgrading my plan. So HUMAN error -
because when i called in they should have changed the confirmed to
activated and noticed that my plan was not accepting the addition of
the plan, which would need to happen post activation.

So, the reason i could take my SIM card out and place it in my other
phone and it worked and i could make phone calls was because the SIM
card was activated but that iTunes hadn't received the confirmation
from the ATT system that the green light from the STATUS should let
it proceed to activate me. Once that error was corrected/adjusted,
and he manually changing the info in my ATT config screen iTunes
immediately detected it and I was golden.

It was soooo crazy.


It was also a really interesting lesson for me, even though i was on
the receiving end. Of process management and i gotta tell you there
were plenty of times when i was thinking about the steps invovled and
saying shit what the hell would Ishikawa make of all of this. I was
so tempted to do an Ishikawa diagram just to stop me from wigging out.

Jobs needs to have a heart-to-heart with this guy at ATT. I just
can't understand how even with 6 months lead-time you could have this
kind of madness. Thank god someone hired the Ninjas, who are a
consulting group, to be there...even if in some cases 1hr 40 min.
Because the Ninja told me, he said...it would not have been 48hrs
sir, because if they didn't catch it earlier, you would have been
told the same thing as before. Just wait....



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June 28, 2007

Why the iPhone is important

I didn't wait on line for 100 hours for an iPhone. I'm not getting one yet. I've been burned too many times by first generation hardware to want to plunk $600 down and take a plan from a carrier that has crappy reception in my house.
But the iPhone is important in the same way that the introduction of the iMac and OS X were important. It shows us what our phones COULD BE.

I have one of those "blueberry" iMacs in the corner of my office. Not fast by any means, and quite limited in upgrades and memory. But wow, is it different from the old Dell sitting next to it. Color, size, shape, it looks...happy. The old Dell is just a box.

And OS X. Was it that much better than Windows 2000? The ultra-geeks can argue about the BSD base and the NEXT stuff inside - it just looks sexy. And it showed us what a sexy operating system can look like, act like, and feel like. When it comes down to it, I can use my Mac or my PC and get lots of the same things done. But the Mac kind of feels better to use these days. (Note: Redmond friends, I'm happy to try out Vista and give an honest review if you want to send a free or discounted copy. Right now I'm scared to spend money on my old hardware). The sexy, sleek, OS X moved the market to where Vista had to do much of the same stuff. The Apple hardware moved the market so Dell bought Alienware - the cool PC maker - to try to keep up.

So, is the iPhone that much better than the Treo + iPod that I walk around with now? Reviews say it's got some great features. Hey, they managed to get WiFi into a phone in the US, which is a serious feat considering many of the carriers have tried to keep it out for years. They have a browser that can actually handle many websites without having to munge the pages up.

But in reality, this is a wi-fi iPod that answers the phone and it's really, really expensive to drop. That's not what Apple + AT+Tinglur is selling. They're selling the possibility that this will be a better phone+internet device+music player+phone camera than you have now. It doesn't matter if it is or it isn't. I just raises the bar for the other carriers and phone manufacturers to start putting better features into their phones - you know, features like they have in Korea or Japan, or much of Europe. People will get frustrated at the slow speed of EDGE and ask for faster 3-G. They'll hate the dim display and crappy browsers their phones have now seeing the iPhone. And that may move the market. One can only hope.


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June 26, 2007

Save Internet Radio

Yahoo's Internet Radio team has a great blog post today about why they're 'off the air' along with many of the other Internet broadcasters.
It's because the Copyright Royalty Board has set a price that is too large for even the largest companies like Yahoo and Clear Channel to afford. Hey, when the big guys cry uncle, someone has crossed the line, no?

So, I say, don't listen to Internet Radio, Don't listen to Satellite, and Don't Buy Any Music today. Save Net Radio!

Oh, and write or call your Senator or Congressperson and ask them to Co-Sponsor the Internet Radio Equality Act, S. 1353 and HR 2060.

UPDATE: I called Congressman Engel's office, and was very pleasantly received by a legislative aide who asked a good question: "How much does the current ruling increase the cost for broacasters?" My answer: As I read it - Three times the cost, retroactive for 17 months.
Left a message at Sen. Schumer's office, and at Senator Clinton's office -- um, couldn't leave a message. I get a "your call is important to us, then lots of hold music, then ringing right to a busy signal."  Hey, Senator - email me at public -at-- this domain dot com. I'd be happy to help your staff understand this issue.

(Remember, they work for you. These "Talking Points" may help if you're not familiar with the issue.)

'Lest you think I'm just talking from talking points, I was writing about this in 2002. Also earlier, in 2001, but the Edit This Page site it was on is dead. I helped create one of the first net Radio stations in 1996, and worked for  the Windows Media Team at Microsoft as their techincal rep to radio stations in 1999 and 2000.
 

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June 25, 2007

Twit-lebrities?

Lazy Web request: Which celebs are on Twitter, which politicians, musicians, etc?

2nd question: Why? What value are people getting from being there?  As a politician, are you seeing more donations or are your supporters getting better connect feelings?

As a musician or entertainer are more people coming to your gigs? Are your messages spreading more virally? Let me know in the comments.


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June 21, 2007

Post at the Conversation Hub

I've made a few posts about Supernova at the Conversation Hub including this one about "Where's the Innovation."


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June 20, 2007

Video Panel at Supernova Today

I'm looking forward to moderating the panel at Supernova on Video, tools, business models, and the shift in how we see and even participate with our entertainment.

http://www.ustream.tv/supernova2007
will have a live feed at 1pm Pacific time.


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June 7, 2007

Hey, Consume This! The Future of Online Advertising

Here I am at the “Future of Onlilne Advertising” conference, and here we are, 12 or 13 years after the first banner ads were placed. We’re up to at least Web 2.0, according to everyone around. It is my contention that in Web 2.0, companies would discover that talking to, and with, their customers would start to happen.

And yet, the guys on the stage continue to insist on calling the people who visit their sites, buy their products and pay their bills “CONSUMERS.” I’ll even call out the Yahoo guy for naming his presentation “Consumer 2.0.” And I’ll keep calling him Yahoo Guy as long as he calls me consumer.

Hey, buddy, you’re in New York, CONSUME THIS.  I’m a buyer, a customer, a user, a dad, a husband, a tech enthusiast, a major ingredient in Soylent Green, and an 18-54 white male making a $X a year. (I’ll let you know X when I figure it out, ok, but last year it was pretty ok.) You want me to buy stuff and use stuff, and you REALLY want me to recommend your stuff to others, because before anyone I know buys electronics, technology, software, cameras, uses a web site or buys a phone, they call me. I’m an influencer.

Web 2.0, as many have noted, is about People. Then Yahoo guy had a slide saying “Find your best consumers, listen to them, have conversations with them.” Cows are consumers. They eat grass and make milk, and then we consume them for beef or leather or whatever. You don’t have conversations with consumers, unless “moo” is in your vocabulary.

Yahoo did a contest for ‘make your own video’ for Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie. They got 10k contributions from “consumers” who consumed more copies of the video and consumed more copies of the music by purchasing (or licensing) it.

Listen, Yahoo guy, good message. Yes, let us make media, and respond to campaigns. But call us who we are, not consumers. You’re Ron Belanger. You’re not a cookie ID or a consumer. You’re in a position to teach people how to speak to “Consumer 2.0.” Start buy calling them Customers. If you have to, call them Customer 2.0. Or Bob. Bob works.

Note, I got sensitized to the word Consumer via Jerry Michalski at http://www.sociate.com/. He’s be talking about this for years. One post, (scroll down the page to “Advertising is War” from 3/10/03, tells the story well.)
In advertising, the best targets are "captive" audiences: people hemmed in by checkout lines, high-rise office building elevators (note the name of the company that puts displays in elevators) or airplane and taxi seats, who these days have to view individual video monitors that are difficult to turn off.... Notice that consumer marketing is like artillery or bombing, not hand-to-hand combat.... In mass marketing, cultural distance gives the "shooters" emotional distance from their targets.

More gems there. Go read it.



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June 6, 2007

Useful PDF tool

I needed a way to combine a bunch of Adobe PDF files together into one document, on my Mac.
I found PDFMergeX, by Malcom Mac Software. It is an easy utility. Just add PDFs to the list, push the button, and voila, a new PDF file with all the pages in the order you wanted them. Thanks Malcom.


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Donna Bogatin's Virtual Moving Day

Good bye ZDNet, hellow Insider Chatter. Donna Bogatin, long time Internet Industry veteran and, for the past year, ZDNet blogger, has launched Insider Chatter. We'll see the same intelligence in covering marketing and media trends, but under her own banner. Subscribed.

Donna is promising coverage from the Future Of Online Advertising conference tomorrow. See you there, Donna.


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Chris Brogan finds his inner Superhero

My friend and Podcamp instigator Chris Brogan nails the culture of the business today in this insightful bit about freeing your inner superhero. On the balance of being you versus being that person inside a company, he says:

The point here is simple: YOU have control of your own personal brand,
and it’s up to you to represent YOURSELF just as much as you represent
your organization. There’s a balance here, and doing it well means that
you are recognized as a human all the while serving your employer, but
the benefits to figuring that balance out are well worth the balancing
act.

and also:
Give your sweat and your brain to the people paying you, and reward
their kindness and their support with a full effort. NEVER in here do I
mention cheating your employer or being in any way disingenuous with
their resources or time.


These two quotes, for me, sum up Chris and the rest of the piece is a must-read.



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