Wednesday, December 9, 2009

ATT to clamp down on data hogs? ugh?

Talk about being unprepared! AT&T beckoned for the iPhone, the greatest phone ever released and the most popular smart phone on the planet. Yet, they were unprepared for the onslaught of data. So now they are talking about pulling a "Verizon" and charging the heck out of consumers for data. They reckon that this is what is slowing down the traffic in the San Francisco area.

Guys/Gals, I've got news for you! Although they are showing that 3% of smartphone users are responsible for 40% of the bandwidth and by deductive reasoning, that's mainly iPhone users, AT&T should have been prepared for this. Even with the Cingular network attached, they are a poor second in 3G coverage.

To add insult to injury, the recent onslaught of commercials against AT&T's 3G service by Verizon - which by the way has ridiculous pricing options - is met by an Apples to Oranges comparison by AT&T, comparing their Voice network to the Verizon 3G network. I am surprised that no one else has picked up on this. The actor throwing cards all over the country is not talking about DATA coverage, he's talking only about VOICE coverage. The data coverage, as far as I know, has not been challenged effectively.

This is a nationwide problem, not just in San Francisco or Anaheim or New York. It is an AT&T problem and it's not a bandwidth problem. In some of the data areas, the 3G coverage is just POOR! Nothing to do with the "data hogs," of which I am not by the way.

AT&T's response as usual is to jack up the rates. And why not? When you've got the best phone on the planet - one that people are willing to put up with bad phone service for - you can do whatever you want. But I wouldn't do that for too long, because with Android coming out, things could get a little more competitive and Apple could decide to go elsewhere.

Dragon Dictation for the iPhone.

Sensational program. A must have for every iPhone owner. But a few caveats in v1.0, especially if you have patient information or government information in your address book. Here is a reprint of my letter, written in response to a question about this product:

Incredible program. It really is for letters and short notes though. It is not very practical for long documents. A few reasons why. Although it translates almost 95-99 percent of American Dialect speech, you would have to have it "personalized" to improve regional recognition, as is found in their more spendy desktop products. I use the Medical Dragon system myself on a PC desktop.

Second, the dictionary is very generic, as one would expect for a v1.0 product. Thus most of the vocabulary is suited for a short letter or text message or note. Again, I see a more personalized product with greater vocabulary coming.

I think that Nuance is being nice right now with the product being free, but the usual "free" then "price it" option may not work with this product if the pricing for the desktop issues are anything to compare. I for one would find it very difficult to go from free to say $99.00 or something worse.

On the plus side, the recognition is awesome. Somewhat better at times than my desktop product running with 2 gigs of ram. Additionally, the idea of using a server to do the translating is a stroke of genius. It is very fast. I am very surprised by this.

I believe that they will need to remove permanently two things if this is to succeed in the Apple World. One, I noticed that you don't have to register to keep anything on the server. This means that they are using your UUID or Unique Iphone identifier. Second the Address book issue needs to be put to rest permanently. They should just get rid of it! Most people can put in the names later. Besides, it does a poor job at Non-American names anyway. African, Indian and Asian names are a travesty. One could always add it later or use a Pseudonym and "change all occurrences of Pseudonym" in editing.

Perhaps more insidious is the attachment of the UUID to the Addressbook. Despite the rebuttal from Nuance that they do not identify you, they are effectively doing so with the UUID and Addressbook. Additionally, there are a few HIPAA issues that come into play. What if my address book has Patient data or names of people whom I need to call? That is private and should have an opt-out provision. Additionally, I can see that in future versions, the UUID will be what is used to personally identify whether I have used the server or not and to modify or personalize my Dragon settings file. These really should be optional for the user.

On the plus side, this is a great use of the technology and I wholeheartedly congratulate Nuance on getting something like this done. If you correct some of the short comings, which are really more social than technical issues, I think that you will have a number one product on your hands.