Verizon Wireless on Wednesday confirmed that it will soon begin charging subscribers a $30 upgrade fee when they purchase new wireless equipment on contract. Verizon is currently the only major carrier that does not charge customers a fee when upgrading their devices on a new two-year contract — AT&T and Sprint each charge customers $36 to upgrade to a new device on contract, and T-Mobile charges an $18 upgrade fee. “On April 22, Verizon Wireless is implementing a $30 upgrade fee for existing customers purchasing new mobile equipment at a discounted price with a two-year contract,” the carrier said in a statement. “This fee will help us continue to provide customers with the level of service and support they have come to expect which includes Wireless Workshops, online educational tools, and consultations with experts who provide advice and guidance on devices that are more sophisticated than ever.”
Microsoft’s Sales, Marketing, Services, IT, & Operations Group (SMSG) may be enforcing a new policy to prevent employees from using corporate funds to buy Apple products, ZDNet reported on Tuesday. An alleged email from Alain Crozier, the chief financial officer of SMSG, informs employees of the new policy. “Within SMSG we are putting in place a new policy that says that Apple products (Mac & iPad) should not be purchased with company funds,” the email reads. A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on the matter. Microsoft’s SMSG is comprised of more than 46,000 employees worldwide and includes the company’s front-line consumer and business sales, service and support staff. The software giant has previously had policies in place to prevent its employees from using iPhones and BlackBerry devices — in 2010 the company began supplying workers with a free Windows Phones instead. More →
AT&T on Thursday announced a revision to its smartphone data throttling policy, which impacts users who have chosen to retain the unlimited smartphone data plan AT&T discontinued some time ago. AT&T’s policy had been ambiguous until now, with the carrier stating simply that the top 5% of smartphone users would experience slowed data speeds until a new billing period began. It was unclear how much data a subscriber had to use in order to approach the top 5%, however, and a number of reports claimed users were being throttled after using 2GB of data or even less. Now, AT&T is clarifying that it will only begin throttling smartphone users with 4G LTE devices after 5GB of data has been used in a single billing period, and subscribers with non-LTE devices will be throttled after 3GB of usage. It has also been reported that AT&T increased the speeds experienced by users while their data speeds are being throttled, but a company spokesperson declined to comment. AT&T’s full statement follows below. More →
Microsoft has started to run anti-Google newspaper ads in a clear effort to sway people from using Google’s services. On Monday, Google announced that it was combining its individual privacy policies to make privacy “more intuitive” for its users. The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee was worried that Google was actually collecting more information under its new rules, but Google responded to those claims and said it was not actually collecting more data. Microsoft isn’t convinced. “To be clear, there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to improve the quality of an advertising product,” Microsoft said in a newspaper ad. “But, that effort needs to be balanced with continuing to meet the needs and interests of users. Every business finds its own balance and attracts users who share those priorities. Google’s new changes have upset that balance, with users’ priorities being de-prioritized. That’s why people are concerned and looking for alternatives… If these changes rub you the wrong way, please consider using our portfolio of award-winning products and services.” The ad also tells newspaper readers that “every data point Google collects and connects to you increases how valuable you are to an advertiser.” Microsoft is currently running the advertisements in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. More →
Earlier today, Research In Motion announced its intentions to bring its BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) its mobile device security and administration services to both Android and iOS. Through its acquisition of ubitexx, the Canadian company is looking to expand the portfolio of mobile devices its BES solution supports. “The single web-based console is being designed to provide IT administrators with a simple and efficient way to distribute software and manage policies, inventory, security and services for BlackBerry devices, as well as other mobile devices,” reads the press release. “IT administrators will be able to manage devices over-the-air, including activating devices, distributing software and applications, locking or wiping devices, enforcing and resetting device passwords, setting IT policies, and managing optional mobile applications for end users. Certain features are expected to remain exclusive to BlackBerry devices because such capabilities are built into the design of a device’s operating system.” The new solution should be available “later this year.” Hit the jump for the full release.
On Tuesday, we reported that Sony’s eBook reader app for iOS had been rejected by Apple. The reason Apple gave for the rejection was that Sony’s app violated an app store policy — one that has historically not been enforced — dealing with apps that offer content for sale through means other than Apple’s in-app purchase mechanism. By using their own distribution systems, developers have been able to sell content from within iOS apps without having to pay Apple’s 30% commission charged for iTunes-based in-app purchases. An Apple spokesperson later gave a comment, stating that Apple is “now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.” Following the ordeal, The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday reports that developers have begun to receive notices that apps in violation of this policy will be rejected starting March 31st. This could mean existing apps like Amazon’s Kindle eBook reader, which sends users to a mobile website in order to make purchases, could run into problems unless they are updated to offer content through iTunes. According to the Journal, the only exception to the rule that will be made is for publishers wishing to give print subscribers free access to an iPad edition. More →
Way back on the 20th, we told you that Sprint would be tweaking its customer loyalty rewards program — lovingly known as Premier. Recently, Sprint contacted BGR to clarify a few details about exactly what has to happen for customers to qualify for the program’s restructured incentives.
A gold level member will receive 25% off the purchase of 2 or more accessories, customer news letters, “just because” perks, first to buy offers, and the ability to upgrade one device after 12 months of service. To qualify for a Premier Gold membership, users must have an individual monthly plan costing $89.99 or more or a family plan costing $169.99 (before any applicable discounts).
A silver level member will receive the same benefits as gold members — 25% off the purchase of 2 or more accessories, customer news letters, “just because” perks, and first to buy offers — but will not have the ability to upgrade a device after 12 months of service. To qualify for a Premier Silver membership, users must have an individual monthly plan costing between $69.99 and $89.98 or a family plan costing between $99.99 and $169.98 (before any applicable discounts).
Any customer, regardless of rate-plan price, that has been with Sprint over ten years will automatically qualify for Premier Gold. There you have it. Straight from the horses mouth.
We reported on Friday that Verizon Wireless would be doing away with mail-in rebates on its high-end devices. Instead the carrier will begin applying instant rebates to all smartphones priced at $150 and above. This means a customer will pay the final subsidized price when purchasing a high-end smartphone instead of paying an extra $50 and waiting to be reimbursed by mail. Today, the policy change is reaffirmed by a new Verizon Wireless rebate sheet provided to BGR by a tipster. As can be seen on the new sheet, which goes into effect on January 31st, nearly all smartphones priced $150 and higher have been removed. Examples include the BlackBerry Storm2 and Motorola’s DROID x and DROID Pro. A few pricey phones still remain, such as the DROID R2-D2, but we’re guessing a price drop to $149.99 or better will take effect tomorrow or Monday. Hit the break to view the full rebate sheet.
Thanks, hiphophead83 More →
Apple has made changes to its internal screening process pertaining to iPod liquid damage, a source told BGR. Apple builds a series of Liquid Contact Indicators (LCI) into its iPod line of devices. When these LCIs come in contact with moisture, they become activated. In the event of a warranty claim or other repair, the LCIs indicate to Apple that the device in question may have been affected by a liquid. Employees of Apple Stores and AppleCare Repair Centers then have specific guidelines used in the event liquid damage is suspected. Previously, the presence of an activated LCI within the headphone jack was cause enough for employees to state that an iPod may have been damaged by water or another liquid. Now, employees must first inspect the iPod for other signs of liquid damage before reaching that conclusion. It is currently not known if the new policy applies to iPhone models as well.
Whether or not Apple has concerns internally regarding the reliability of its LCI devices is unclear at this time. Apple may have also discovered LCIs located within the headphone jack are overly sensitive and activate even when they come in contact with permissible amounts of moisture.
We haven’t really covered Blockbuster’s DVD-by-mail service since this past March when a string of policy changes finally culminated in our exclusive scoop covering the elimination of Total Access’ one competitive edge over Netflix — the ability of subscribers to enjoy their free in-store rentals while they awaited new DVDs to be delivered by mail. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones appalled by the move. The following is pulled from the company’s latest 10-Q filing:
a $40.7 million decrease in by-mail revenues driven by a 34% average decline in by-mail subscribers”
So, in a single quarter, Blockbuster reveals that it shed 34 percent of its by-mail subscribers and the hejira resulted in a $40.7 million decline in by-mail revenue. Ouch. The prior quarter was no different, and Blockbuster has seen a $76.3 million total decline in by-mail revenue over the half. Time to switch things up, fellas.
[Via Zatz Not Funny!]
There has been quite a bit of movement recently as far as T-Mobile’s plans are concerned and if you haven’t been keeping your eye on the ball, you probably missed something. For the most part, T-Mo has added plans and options that are pretty favorable for subscribers but word just came in from one of our ninjas regarding a few more upcoming changes some might not be happy about. The first concerns smartphone users: We know that all you BGR fans out there obviously have data plans but there are plenty of people who enjoy the enhanced functionality of a smartphone who haven’t yet embraced mobile data services. Unfortunately, those people are in for a bit of a disappointment — some time in June T-Mobile will begin requiring that all smartphones (new activations / upgrades) have a data plan. This new requirement will not apply to the BlackBerry Pearl, BlackBerry Pearl Flip, Samsung Behold or Samsung Memoir. Next up, messaging addicts: Also beginning some time in June, T-Mobile’s Unlimited Domestic Messages for Families will jump from $19.95 per month to $24.99 per month. It’s still a pretty sweet deal of course, just not quite as sweet as it used to be.