WTAM 1100 – Smartphone Ad Tracking

Smartphone SIM Cards
Play Audio – WTAM 1100 Newsradio – Tech Tuesday – March 10th, 2015:

WTAM 1100 Newsradio Cleveland OhioAs technology becomes an increasingly integral part of our lives, you may be concerned with your privacy as your use your portable devices to visit websites and access online resources. One privacy decision many make on a routine basis is controlling the ability of advertisers to track your online presence through cookies on your desktop web browser. But what about your smartphone?

Fortunately for those concerned, there are smartphone privacy settings that you can configure on your Apple, Android or Windows device.

WTAM 1100 – Disney Movies Anywhere Crossing Platforms

Play Audio – WTAM 1100 Newsradio – Tech Tuesday – November 18th, 2014

WTAM 1100 Newsradio Cleveland OhioDigital content stores like Apple’s iTunes or Google’s Play have allowed us to buy and play movies on our mobile platform for some time. But those purchases have generally been limited to the platform they were purchased on. If you bought Frozen on iTunes, it’d play on your iPhone, but not the cheap Android tablet you bought for your kids to use.

One of the larger players in movie content has a new service that seeks to change this. Disney Movies Anywhere allows you to connect your iTunes, Google Play, or VUDU accounts so that any purchase on one unlocks that purchase on the others. So buy on your iPad and share with your Android phone and vice-versa. If you’re still a collector of physical media, look for Blu-ray Combo Packs that include the movie on disc, as well as a code to unlock the digital version for use on your mobile devices.

For a limited time, Disney is even offering those who sign up for the no cost, no contract account a free copy of Wreck-It Ralph.

Disney already has a wide range of releases beyond the typical movies we associate them with, which includes Pixar and Marvel movies like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Muppets Most Wanted. If Disney can prove this to be a successful move, expect to see other players, like Sony and Warner-Brothers follow suit.

WTAM 1100 – AT&T and Verizon Looking at Data Plan Changes

Play Audio – WTAM 1100 Newsradio – Tech Tuesday – Novemner 11th, 2014

WTAM 1100 Newsradio Cleveland OhioIt’s no secret that most of us are spending more of our “online time” on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. This is only going to increase over time, and ?one study suggests mobile data use will grow 325% by 2018. The carriers seem to be responding to this by focusing on their data plans more as smartphones become more common than regular phones.

Sprint and T-Mobile have had some success in drawing new customers with their broad data plans, and now AT&T and Verizon are in a new battle over increasing the data on some plans or offering the same data at a cheaper rate.

Another driver of data versus voice plans is a feature called “Voice over LTE” (VoLTE) which allows voice calls to be placed across the much faster LTE data networks if the hardware (and carrier) supports it. This use of mobile Internet access promises higher quality audio on voice calls, and the potential future integration of video and other voice services.

Verizon and AT&T have announced they will look at allowing interoperability of this feature on each other’s networks in 2015, increasing the availability (and adoption) for customers of both carriers.

It continues to be a highly mobile, always connected world!

Why Are Smartphone Replacement Plans Costs Rising?

You may have noticed that the extended warranty, insurance or protection plan offered with your new smartphone likely has a drastically higher deductible than the last time you bought one. Why is that? Because the way we use (and abuse) our phones has changed over the last 5 years.

In the days of regular feature phones, many owners stuck with their same phone for much longer. Keeping a mobile phone for 2 to 4 years wasn’t uncommon. Feature phones were simple, bulky devices that we often kept using even after their plastic cases were badly worn, dented and cracked.

As smartphones arrived, owners started upgrading their phones in shorter periods to get the latest hardware features. Upgrading your phone every 2 years is common, and many upgrade every 12 to 18 months. Phones became lighter, thinner, and more complex.

Over the last few years, those extra plans started getting used more than ever before for a few different reasons. One of the most common replacement issues isn’t hardware, but software.

Smartphones are portable computers, and just like your computer, the software can flake out. In many cases, the same fixes that work for your computer work for the phone, like restarting it or reloading the software.

To add to the complexity are the tens of thousands of 3rd party apps available. I’ve seen individual apps on every platform cause battery issues, lock up a phone and generally cause issues that make an owner think their phone’s hardware is “broken”.

Many owners will insist on an immediate replacement for their phone, even when it’s clearly not the hardware at fault. Issues with the phone’s OS, a poorly written 3rd party app, problems with the carrier, or even just a new owner that doesn’t fully understand the function and limitations of their phone’s platform can create the desire to replace the phone’s hardware.

It also doesn’t help that people seem to be more clumsy with what is a $500 to $900 (unsubsidized) device. And now that many companies are offering to buy your old smartphone, many owners look to replacement plans to get a “fresh” phone free of cracks, dents and general wear and tear to get the most money back.

That’s not to mention the increase in theft of smartphones due to the growing black-market opportunities for the hardware.

Over the last few years, this has driven the number of replacement phones requested through all the different retail and carrier stores exponentially.

This exponential increase in the number of smartphone replacement requests drastically increases the costs of the plans for retailers and carriers, and quite often decreases replacement inventory to the point where certain highly-replaced model phones can have 2 to 6 week wait times for new inventory.

In what’s likely an attempt to reduce the number of replacements made, I’ve seen that nearly every retail and carrier that offers these plans has increased the “deductible” per replacement incident. Most companies will charge $150 to $200 for an accidentally damaged phone replacement. Even Apple’s generous AppleCare program has increased their incident fees.

So keep that in mind when complaining about any one company’s plans and threatening to go to another. The grass is equally expensive on the other side.