2008-07-10

TardApp

New app for FaceBook!

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It's fun, it rates you and your friends, and your friends rate you, and their friends rate them. Sends random huge offensive images, sounds and videos to your own SuperTardWall and to your friends' SuperTardWall, automatically, periodically, over and over. Notifying you via email every time.

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Wait you can't use it until you request all your friends to join.
Wait you can't use it unless you give us access to everything about you.
Wait you can't use it unless we can email you all the time about anything.
Wait you can't use it unless we can email your friends.

Notifications by mail every hour, on the hour. Sometimes multiple emails per hour! And because we want to give you the best service and experience we have included advertisements! Regularly! Notifications sent to your email account!

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Doing our level best to make you and your friend's FaceBook accounts annoying and useless!

2008-07-03

Australian iPhone Nightmare

Australia and the great iPhone 3G data rip off. Greedy Telcos exploiting iPhone hype.

The announcement

Great hubbub surrounded the release of the new iPhone 3G and the wonderful announcement that it would be available for sale in the finest land to ever grace the face of the planet; Australia. The new iPhone is just like the old one but has 3G compatibility and built in GPS.

The Concern

Exciting right? However, shortly after the release, I wrote a long essay to my friends and family to be calm, as I believed that the companies that were going to offer the iPhone would get the plans all wrong. I had the sinking feeling that the marketards at Vodafone and Optus will go for the profit gouge of Australian iPhone users by putting high end talk times on the iPhone plans with their excessive 3G internet charges.

I hardly use my phone to talk, my communication is usually via email, SMS, IM, twitter, etc. I don't want a plan with lots of talk. I don't particularly want lots of SMS. I want LOTS of internet. I want to use my wireless networks as much as I want; I don't want them charging me for using my home wireless network.

Before the iPhone announcement the phone companies' internet (data) plans were a mess. Optus has $15 for 200Meg, Vodafone has $12 for 100Meg. Both are simply pathetic. Will they extend their mobile internet deals to iPhone? Vodafone has $39 for 5Gig (+$100 per Gig over the limit) or Optus has $30 for 1Gig (+$150 per Gig over). Yes there are other plans and ways of bundling which usually tries to claim added value with things like unlimited land line talk time. I don't want talk time!

I am a Mac user and I would love to sign up for mobileme to get the synching of contacts and calendars. The iPhone is a perfect device for my work flow.

However, I didn't think Optus or Vodafone would offer plans that favour my usage. Worse; I think that the plans will be quite similar between Optus and Vodafone, enough to hint at collusion but different enough to avoid it legally.

To summarise: the iPhone is a marvellous device that could allow me to have internet everywhere. Mobile phone companies are profit grabbing scum who will tear away the value of the iPhone.

The essay was all conjecture, of course.

I posted similar concerns to Whirlpool and garnered a large number of like minded responses, but had the post removed without reason by a moderator who refused to comply with the site's policies that direct him to explain. I could read all sorts of conspiracies into that, but I imagine the moderator is fairly clueless (a quick examination of the post structure shows this) and overworked.

The reality

Well Telstra managed to get into the iPhone customer grab at the last moment. Telstra pre-empted the other companies by partly releasing their plans early. As much as I loathe Telstra, there were aspects that I didn't mind so much, such as the free WiFi at Telstra hotspots - which would be exactly where I would be directing most of my custom if I lost my senses and signed up with Telstra.

Optus also offer free Hotspot WiFi access but they are very cagey about where these hotspots might be, Optus Customer Care were pretty much clueless on this (Optus WiFi Hotspots Optus Azure WiFi Hotspots). Telstra say they have WiFi at selected hotels, Airports, Starbucks and MacDonalds (Telstra WiFi Hotspots). As far as I can see, Vodafone has no wireless hotspots that I could find except their stores which have this sneaky bluetooth dealie that they plan to use to send advertisements to passers by.

Vodafone were all set to announce their plans when Telstra shot off their mouth early. Vodafone went quiet and headed back to the drawing board.

Optus, like the complete pack of greedy imbeciles they are, went ahead with their pricing plans that they already had thought up. And why not? Since they had an overwhelming response by people who had no idea of the plans but were ready to fork out the big dollars on pre ordering. A nice big profit gouge that tightly links your data time with talk time. Read the fine print, as the iPhone probably won't work properly with Optus if you're not in the right area. It seems Optus installed "standards compliant" phone towers that few phone manufacturers seem to comply with, including Apple's iPhone.

Telstra 3G Coverage
Optus 3G coverage
Vodafone 3G coverage

Vodafone Australia hasn't come up with any plans as yet, but have hinted at respectable new data plans right on the very first day of the announcement of the iPhone 3G. If Vodafone New Zealand is anything to go by [$250/month for 1Gig data] then Vodafone Australia is going to try to extort the most extreme amount of money out of purchasers as they can. I wish the public wasn't so passive. At least Canada has stood up for itself with an online petition decrying the extreme corporate greed.

I assume Vodafone Australia will come up with something incredibly short sighted like starting at $70/month with $300 talk credit and 250Meg; $100/month for 500Meg; $170 for 1Gig. Utter morons. There must be some way to get their $39 for 5Gig plan on the iPhone.

Internet Data

Let's examine data quotas. Despite the US offering unlimited data plans, Optus seems to think that 1Gig of data per month is the high end. Let's look at what this gets you.

Take the Optus iPhone price plan pages. The "pricing post paid" page is 68K of html and 380K of images, styles sheet, javascript and graphics, so 450K all up. Say you only visit 4 pages per site on average, this would mean 1.8Meg per site. Now imagine that you might also want to use the YouTube app on your iPhone, and perhaps download a song or a new fun game from iTunes. The high end user will probably want to restrict viewing to about 10 sites a day. Remember this is the high end data plan we are talking about, the people on the 50Meg plan should just disable their internet except for emergencies.

An article at APC Magazine by Danny Gorog, comes to a bizarre conclusion on data usage that is much more conservative that what I have here. He is obviously following the phone company doctrine of limited net use and I believe that he may very well be leaving himself open to legal suits because of his statement:
"I'd anticipate that very few users will actually be able to use more than 250MB of data per month" - Danny Gorog
Which shows a similar blind uninsightfulness of the corporate sector that is indicative of the magazine's authorship, which is leading to their rapidly depleting subscription numbers (by which I mean me).

You will need to be monitoring your net usage very carefully as Optus want to charge you ~$360 per Gigabyte when you go over your limit, which is nothing short of criminal. This means that song you just downloaded from iTunes probably cost you $1.75 above the iTunes charge and watching a couple YouTube videos will approach the cost of going to the cinema.

The data plans offered by Optus are a joke. From my quick and dirty calculations, I estimate that 1Gig would be a light user, 2Gig an average user and 5Gig a heavier user. Why not just have unlimited data plans?

Apparently the communications companies don't see the iPhone as a proper internet tool. That data usage will be just some limited browsing. They're also afraid of a skype type application taking away from their talk time. With this short sighted view they are crushing many of the useful applications for mobile internet.

Uncouple internet(data) from talk time

Forcing people who want higher internet (data) quota to take talk time that they won't use simply stinks. It is a very similar situation to the bundling of pay TV channels.

This is a great opportunity for one telephone service provider to take the lead, offer cheap unlimited data plans for an extra $10 on any plan and capture the market.

Instead we will see a competition starved market with companies that see nothing more than an opportunity to make a bump in their profit graph. Instead of providing a better service they will complain how much it costs to deploy their towers and how the Australian market can't support unlimited quota, all the while making $8 billion a year profit. Fat executives in suits, laughing and shaking each other's hands in salute of their delusional belief that they have done a good job and giving themselves big juicy bonuses.

Given everything I have said, there are still deals for people who want a phone for talking with some dabbling on the net. I predict many of the low end users will be caught by the horribly unreasonable excess charges for data. Optus may have seen this as they are offering some temporary unlimited plans so people will realise they have to change their net behaviour or upgrade their plans.

I wish the government would properly regulate industries as I'm tired of being subjected to the whims of collusive, profit above all type companies.