We’d be lying if we said we hadn’t been waiting on this feature since the service’s debut. As one reader just notified us now lets you port your own phone number into its system — as in, that 10-digit hometown relic you’ve been holding onto as long as you’ve carried a handset can now live in the cloud and grant you freedom to start afresh / forward to your many on-hand devices. Check under phone setting to see if “change / port” is now an option. The cost of porting is $20 and, as you may guess, it’ll terminate your current service plan and probably prompt the carrier in question to charge applicable early termination fees, but that’s pittance for saving your old line for the indefinite future. You know, just in case your seventh grade crush gets the nerve to call and say, “sorry.” Of course he / she will, just give it time.
We heard from 9 to 5 Mac that Apple was due to begin selling a contract-free variant of the iPhone in the near future “at list price.” And guess what happened when we inquired to an Apple store? That’s right folks — you can now pick one up for $499 (3G), $599, or $699 (3GS). We’ve confirmed this info at no less than five stores, so you should be hearing the same message at your local Appletorium. Given the current unfriendly climate between Apple and Google, this could be seen as nasty jab, though the devices are still carrier-locked to AT&T, so you’re not being given much freedom… and it’s certainly not much of a statement. In many parts of Europe (France and Poland, for example) you can pick up the carrier-unattached device (and we mean totally unlocked), but that doesn’t appear to be the case here.
These devices are still locked to AT&T — so you’re just looking at an off contract pricing scheme. Which is also totally lame.
Boxee and Hulu have had a contentious history, with Hulu several times blocking its content from working with the Boxee social media software. NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker once told All Things D he didn’t want Hulu content on Boxee because they were committed to keeping the former “an online experience.”
Today during the Congressional hearing to investigate Comcast’s proposed acquisition of NBCU (you can watch the full length video of the hearing below), Representative Rick Boucher asked Zucker flat out about the company’s exclusion of Boxee users from accessing Hulu content. Zucker’s reponse:
“This was a decision made by the Hulu management to, uh, what Boxee was doing was illegally taking the content that was on Hulu without any business deal. And, you know, all, all the, we have several distributors, actually many distributors of the Hulu content that we have legal distribution deals with so we don’t preclude distribution deals. What we preclude are those who illegally take that content.”
In a blog post, Boxee CEO Avner Ronen responds to Zucker’s claims of illegal content access. He explains that the workaround that currently allows Boxee users to watch Hulu shows is to simply use a web browser for access. Just like Firefox or Chrome users can watch Hulu content, so can Boxee users: “We don’t ‘take’ the video. We don’t copy it. We don’t put ads on top of it. The video and the ads play like they do on other browsers or on Hulu Desktop. And it certainly is legal to do so.”
Considering neither Mozilla nor Google (nor Microsoft or other browser makers) have distribution deals with Hulu, it’s hard not to concede that Boxee has a valid point. What do you think: should Congress intervene to prevent a company like Hulu from blocking access to particular web TV companies, be it Boxee or otherwise?
According to a report in Wired (and a source whom the publication says “could not be named”), Steve Jobs spoke to an audience of Apple employees at a town hall in Cupertino and… pulled zero punches. If you believe what you read, Jobs tackled a handful of major issues that have been buzzing the company lately, namely its run-ins with Google on a number of topics, and the lack of Flash support in its mobile devices (most notably in the upcoming iPad). On Google, Jobs had this to say: “We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business. Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them.” According to the attendee, another topic was brought up but Steve wouldn’t let the Google issue go, stating his thoughts on the company’s famous ‘Don’t be evil’ line. In Steve’s words? “It’s bullshit.”
Furthermore Jobs had a handful of choice words for Adobe, calling the company “lazy” and claiming that “Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash. The world is moving to HTML5.” Of course, these amazing nuggets of wisdom come from a source which Engadget cannot verify, so it’s possible there are misquotes or items taken out of context, though from the sounds of things, this kind of talk falls right in line with what we’d expect from the man who said Microsoft “had no taste” and makes “really third-rate products.” We eagerly await Eric Schmidt’s response.
Here’s a little price snippet on Apple’s e-book plans, care of an eleventh hour Wall Street Journal piece. According to the article, the gang in Cupertino is asking book publishers (HarperCollins was specifically cited) to set the price point for digital versions of hardcover bestsellers at either $12.99 or $14.00, “with fewer titles offered at $9.99.” The publisher apparently has the option to set its own price, but at any rate, Apple’s taking the usual 30% cut from each sale — a $14.99 novel would thus leave about $10.49 for the publisher. Nothing else to glean from this other than a rather strongly-phrased assertion that tomorrow’s tablet has a 10-inch touchscreen, but no indication on where that’s coming from. These prices would put Apple’s selection at a premium compared with Amazon and its Kindle store, but perhaps it’ll also be bypassing any rumored digital delay on new works — question is, if Apple really is entering the e-book business and bringing with it higher prices, will it let us import our digital books purchased from other stores?
We all love a good debate about how the tech giants of today are competing with each other, but rarely do we get a handy reference sheet like this to point people to. Nick Bilton of the New York Times has put together a segment-by-segment comparison between America’s tech heavyweights, which does a fine job of pinpointing who competes with whom and where. We find the gaps in coverage more intriguing than the overlaps, though, with Microsoft’s only unticked box — mobile hardware — raising habitual rumors of a Pink phone. Apple’s absence from the provision of mapping services might also soon be at an end, given the company acquired map maker Placebase in July of last year (see Computerworld). Anyway, there should be plenty more for you to enjoy, so hit the source for the full chart and get analyzin’.