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2010 Reliability and Service Survey: Smartphone and Wireless Providers


Apple’s iPhone and Verizon‘s wireless service are the favorites of respondents in this year’s survey.

By Jeff Bertolucci, PCWorld

R&S 2010 Survey Results
R&S 2010 Survey Results

Apple fans love the iPhone, but they’re not particularly thrilled with AT&T, which at press time was the exclusive iPhone carrier in the United States. Readers rate AT&T last in voice call quality and data speed, while Verizon Wireless is the overall favorite.

John Moncure, an iPhone 3G owner in South Carolina, says AT&T’s 3G service is unreliable where he lives. “Sometimes walking from one side of the house to the other–and I live right downtown in the county seat–I lose connectivity,” says Moncure, headmaster of a Montessori school in Camden, a small town of 7000 people.

“I like the iPhone, it’s a good machine. If it were available with all the providers, I would pick the provider that gave me the best service–and I don’t think that’s AT&T, not out here,” he adds.

Research In Motion (RIM) should take note that BlackBerry users aren’t a happy lot either. RIM’s widely used smartphone received below-average grades in nearly every reliability and usability category, although BlackBerrys arrive with few out-of-the-box problems. Nearly 1 in 3 BlackBerry users report at least one significant problem with their phone, compared with roughly 1 in 5 Motorola handset users.

RIM has another serious issue to contend with: Younger consumers in their twenties tend to favor phones from Apple, HTC, and vendors that use Google’s Android mobile operating system, according to a recent Yankee Group study. RIM’s demographic skews a little higher–in the 30-plus range–mostly because a BlackBerry “tends to be used a lot in work environments,” says Yankee Group mobile analyst Carl Howe.

T-Mobile deserves kudos for its customer support. While the fourth-place wireless carrier’s overall service rating is very close to its competitors’ scores, the company excels in phone support, readers report. T-Mobile’s average hold time is 4.6 minutes–significantly lower than the others, which have times ranging from 5.2 minutes (AT&T) to 6.1 minutes (Verizon).

And 84 percent of T-Mobile customers report that they’re satisfied with the voice call reliability of the carrier’s network, second only to Verizon’s 86.7 percent. (AT&T was a distant fourth with 72.8 percent, no doubt an indication of the dropped-call problems many iPhone users have reported.)

We should also note that Motorola takes the honors in phone reliability.

After reading this article, you may want to jump to PCWorld’s Facebook page, where readers can add their own stories of product reliability and vendor service.

The four charts below summarize our survey’s findings on smartphone reliability by brand, wireless carriers’ customer service, smartphone ease of use by brand, and satisfaction with wireless network service. For more on the measures used in the charts and the survey methodology, see “The Tech Brands You Can Trust .”

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Teens Deliver Word of Mouth


- Mark Dolliver, Adweek
Anyone who has tried to shut a teenager up will be unsurprised to learn that teens produce a disproportionate amount of “word of mouth” about products and services. A recent report from Keller Fay Group has the numbers to document this phenomenon.

Based on data collected during a one-year period (July 2009 through June 2010), the report says teens “engage in a significantly higher level of word of mouth about all categories than the total public.” For instance, 78 percent of 13-17-year-olds, vs. 57 percent of the general public, engaged in word of mouth about “media & entertainment” brands during that period; 67 percent of 13-17s, vs. 39 percent of the public in general, talked about “technology” products. Sigue leyendo

The Next 5 Years in Social Media


Adam Ostrow

Social Media ImageOver the last five years, social media has evolved from a handful of communities that existed solely in a web browser to a multi-billion dollar industry that’s quickly expanding to mobile devices, driving major changes in content consumption habits and providing users with an identity and social graph that follows them across the web.

With that framework in place, the next five years are going to see even more dramatic change. Fueled by advancements in underlying technology – the wires, wireless networks and hardware that make social media possible – a world where everything is connected awaits us. The result will be both significant shifts in our everyday lives and a changing of the guard in several industries that are only now starting to feel the impact of social media. Sigue leyendo

12 Ways the Tech Industry Is Screwing You (and How to Fight Back)


Whether you seek out cutting-edge tech gear or keep to a strict budget, the tech industry has ways to nickel-and-dime you out of your hard-earned cash. Here’s how to fight back.

Patrick Miller, PC World

You can’t install the apps you want on your smartphone. You can’t play the movies you bought on your PC. You can’t even walk into a store without getting upsold, enrolled, restocked, and recalled. Welcome to the world of tech in 2010, where your phone doesn’t work–and companies tell you that “you’re holding it wrong.”

Just because you venture into the tech marketplace with a credit card in your hand doesn’t mean you deserve to get screwed. Check out these 12 ways that the tech industry is pulling a fast one on you–and learn how to fight back.

Ridiculous Restocking Fees

Bought a laptop and realized it wasn’t for you? No problem, you can return it within 30 days–that’ll be $150, please.

Restocking fees are an easy way for vendors to make a tidy profit from a consumer’s buying misstep. The rationale for such fees may be to discourage cheapskates who have no intention of keeping a device from buying it, using it for a short time–say, for the length of a vacation–and then returning it; but the practical result is that you can get slapped with a fee ranging from 10 percent to 25 percent of the purchase price just for the privilege of returning a gadget you’re not happy with.

For example, Best Buy charges 10 percent for iPhone returns; 15 percent for opened laptops, projectors, digital cameras/camcorders, and GPS systems; and 25 percent for any special-ordered item. Amazon.com, Sears, and Newegg all charge a 15 percent restocking fee for computers and electronics, though each vendor’s specific rules vary–for example, Sears charges only if the returned item doesn’t include the original packaging, whereas Newegg dings you for anything you return after opening it.

Take the restocking fees into consideration before you buy. It’s illegal in some states to charge a restocking fee without notifying you in advance, but the notification could be buried in the return policy on the back of your receipt, so ask a salesperson before you swipe your credit card. You might discover that the $5 you save by buying a product from a particular vendor could be negated by the $50 it charges as a restocking fee. Buying a gift? Get a gift card if there’s any chance that the recipient might want to return the item you’re tempted to choose. Sigue leyendo

Your Smartphone Will Soon Double as Your Wallet


By: Dan Macsai

Wallet, over filled, credit cards, receiptPhotograph by Sue Tallon

The race is on to transform your smartphone into your wallet.

The Japanese call it osaifu keitai (cell-phone wallet). Flash your phone virtually anywhere you go for almost any purchase and it’s automatically logged into a digital expense report. Eat frequently at McDonald’s? Tap your phone to pay and your all-in-one debit card/receipt tracker/loyalty program may instantly offer you 10% off.

Today, if you want to enjoy these benefits, you have to go to Japan. But after years of talk, wireless carriers, banks, startups, and handset makers are now actively working to transform Americans’ cell phones into mobile wallets. The goal: to snag a share of the processing fees associated with the $3.2 trillion in annual retail credit-card charges, and to turn the $1.2 trillion in cash and check spending into digital transactions. Sigue leyendo

Is the Future of Mobile Broadband Pay As You Go?


Over the past few weeks, I have been considering a mobile broadband solution. My reasoning is two-fold: I’d like a backup in case my regular connection fails–Comcast here has become somewhat spotty as of late–and something for when I’m on the road at a conference and don’t want to depend on the available Wi-Fi, which is sometimes unreliable.

For the time being, I have settled on Virgin Mobile’s Broadband2Go offering (I’ll have a review of it coming in a week or two after I’ve put it through its paces). It’s cheap, the initial cost of startup is not high, and it’s now Mac compatible. But while at Wal-Mart, I was shocked to see Verizon and AT&T are now offering their own prepaid plans. I must have missed their announcements–and it’s kind of surprising to me that those companies be interested in getting into the game. Sigue leyendo

The FCC’s Crusade to Keep the Internet Free


Logo of Comcast
Image via Wikipedia

Verizon and Google want to exempt wireless networks from rules

By Todd Shields and Brad Stone
Imagine an Internet for which consumers paid a low price for basic service and higher prices for add-ons like 3D video. Or imagine if Comcast (CMCSA), now seeking approval to acquire NBC Universal, allowed its customers to download Universal movies at superfast speeds, while relegating the latest Harry Potter film from rival Time Warner (TWX) to the slow lane.

Open-Internet advocates say such cable-television-like tiered services and virtual toll booths would violate “Net neutrality,” the concept that all information coursing across the Web is equal. Sigue leyendo

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