June 2010 Archives

Amazon Buys Woot

One of the big news items today is that Amazon has purchased Woot.com. Their first item to celebrate this occasion? The Amazon Kindle , which is normally $189 on Amazonhas dropped to $149 on woot. Sure, they might get an avalanche of orders for the Kindle, but

Here's woot's take on the buyout: Amazon, Woot and You: But Mostly Woot".

Amazon's buyout strategy seems to be: if the business model makes money, acquire them. It's not a bad strategy, and it may be that 10 years from now, Amazon will own every .com that actually matters.

iPhone 4 Launch Day

One of the things I have always appreciated about iPhone launches is that I can have the device delivered to my home. In fact, it seems that every other year, they insist on doing the iPhone AT&T activations at the Apple Store to remind themselves why they shouldn't do the activations at the Apple store.

With the release of the first iPhone which was unsubsidized, it was a simple matter of walking into an Apple store, and picking out how much memory you wanted. With the iPhone 3G, activations were done in store, as it was a subsidized phone, and appropriate checks to AT&T needed to be made -- instead of a 3-minute transaction consisting of simply handing over a credit card to the cashier, customers were instead subjected to the slow credit check/authentication scheme of AT&T (this is why if you ever switch carriers, you are at the new carrier's store for at least 90 minutes while they verify your identity and run a credit check).

With the iPhone 3GS launch, the process of in-store activation went much smoother -- about 10 minutes after entering the store, you would walk out with your new iPhone, activated and ready to go. (I skipped the store and just had my iPhone delivered to me at home). I remember going to the store that day to purchase a screen protector and marveling at the expediency of the geniuses in how quickly they could sell an iPhone.

The iPhone 4's launch seems maddeningly frustrating in comparison; the customer needs to activate in-store, and instead of the 10 minute turn-around of the 3GS, the process is taking 30 minutes instead of 10 after passing though the entrance. Tack on another 2+ hours of standing in line (if you reserved) or even longer (if you didn't), and today might as well be iPhone 4 camp day. One can only wonder how many hours were lost from people standing in line. And this year, more people turned up at Apple retail stores to line up for a phone (even a reserved one) because of the meltdown when AT&T's servers collapsed underneath demand for the iPhone 4's. Estimates are as much as 4 times more people are showing up for iPhone 4 than did for iPhone 3GS.

Even bypassing the Apple store and going to an AT&T outlet, it wasn't any better -- besides the low stock, it seemed there weren't enough sales people at Best Buy to handle sales of the iPhone 4.

The lesson? Pre-order and have it delivered.

Is the iPhone 4 killing FedEx's Online Tracking System?

If you visit FedEx's tracking website today, you will be greeted with: "Package deliveries are proceeding as normal; however tracking updates are temporarily being delayed. Please try back later. "

In all my years of tracking packages online, I have never seen this message, but if there is something that has the ability to choke servers to death, it is the iPhone 4.

iPhone 4: First Impressions

When I initially ordered the iPhone 4, I wondered if I had made a mistake. I had already upgraded the iPhone 3GS to iOS4, and many of the improvements to iPhone were enabled in the underlying operating system, such as folders and multitasking.

Upon turning on the iPhone 4 and placing it side by side to my soon-to-be deactivated iPhone 3GS, the difference was clear. The iPhone 4:

  • is thinner and taller than the 3GS.
  • doesn't feel as slick as the 3GS, and might be less prone to dropping.
  • has a widescreen high-resolution display.
  • includes a front-facing camera, as well as a LED light/flash.
  • is faster than the 3GS. Loading up the same apps side by side, the iPhone 4 consistently started before the 3GS.

Of these, the screen is the major one -- it's ridiculously beautiful, and it is at such an absurdly high dpi (326dpi) that text on the iPhone 4 actually looks like text on a piece of paper. It is twice the dpi of an Kindle (167 dpi) and Kindle DX (150dpi), and a vast improvement over the previous iPhones (160 dpi). One can see why Steve Jobs touted the Retina Display so highly. The pixels are practically invisible, and on curved surfaces, I could not see any pixelation.

Sadly, even with the improvements in the antenna, my apartment still has terrible reception.

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