Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Talk about Telephones

...I can remember when telephones were interesting to talk about. (Because I've seen this in historical movies.) There was once a distinction between rotary and touch tone. (Oh yeah, Touch Tone(tm)!) There was once the distinction between princess and desk and multi-line and cordless and designer styling...

Then there were almost no "telephones" left.  When people in San Francisco encounter a pay phone, they take a picture in front of it to show their families.

Now the talk is about cell phones. And cell phones are barely phones anymore -- they are instead small computing devices, the power of which could have easily powered the entire Apollo space program. In a culture that arises from the decade-long blinking midnight of the VCR, this may not be a great thing.

Nonetheless, we are fascinated by talk about our phones.  Each day my cell carrier sends me updates on the latest phones and the promises that they will marginally (or provisionally) fulfill.  Each day at lunch, businessmen and school students alike compare features and extoll the virtues (or damnations) of their respective phones.

So, like an infinite number of monkeys, compulsively describing an incompletely defined and incompletely constructed kingdom, we aspire to eventually (sometime between here and infinity) recreate the combined written works of Charles Babbage and Alexander Graham Bell.

In the meantime (and perhaps as a contribution), we have these current thoughts on the part of the kingdom that is known to us.

AT&T has a surprisingly humane bailout policy for their standard two-year indenture agreement ( er - we mean service contract).  Even though they continue to endorse and participate in anti-competitive agreements (such as exclusive licensing for the iPhone), we find that their customers mostly speak well enough of them, and their coverage has worked well for us in our metro area. (SF Bay)

Sprint has been taking steps recently to improve customer service in dramatic ways. It seems to be working. They also offer some leading-edge non-iPhone smart phones that point to a brilliant future. Although they arranged an "exclusive" deal with Palm to first-launch the highly heralded Pre, they also show some motion toward open standards with their upcoming Android phones.  We are interested to see how their 4G rollout works.  If they are successful here, they could emerge once more as a power in the cell phone marketplace.

Verizon customers seem to be the ones least likely to complain in our presence.  We believe (without having researched deeply) that they offer a reasonable line of good smart phones and it seems that their service coverage is very good.

There's a lot more to say about phones later, so expect another rant on the matter before too long.