Is There Nothing Sacred About Technology Anymore?

We love “technology” when it works and hate it when it doesn’t. In Louisville, Kentucky, we recently had a pretty severe ice storm, It knocked out power lines and a couple of hundred thousand homes and businesses were without power for a week or more. Thousands still are, as this is written.

The ice storm closed schools and businesses around the region for several days, and some are approaching their second week without power. The good news for many is they’ve hardly missed a beat, using technological tools, such as their Blackberry or iPhone to stay in contact with clients and customers. Things may have become a little slippery on this locally, however, as cell phone towers froze, laptop and cell phone batteries ran low, and power fluctuations, not to mention cable service, became sporadic.  During the height of the storm, when we took in various friends and family until their power was restored, the first thing asked of us was where our frozen guests could plug in a cell phone charger.

It is great to have a disaster plan, but now we learn that what some thought were core technologies have been coming under increasing attack. A recent article by Jeffrey Silva in RCR Wireless News indicates that Apple Inc’s iPhone has become the target of at least three class action suits in the last few days, and partner, AT&T Mobility, has been named in two. The litigation involves claims the 3G iPhones are not well made and do not work as claimed in AT&T Mobility’s advertisements. Other claims include negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and breach of express and implied warranties, alleging “iPhones have had well-known and documented issues regarding the premature ‘wear-and-tear’ of the iPhones’ housing, including the formation of hairline cracks in the iPhones’ casing.”

One of the suits, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida under that state’s consumer protection laws, alleges negligent misreprentation in that both the 8 GB and 16 GB model 3G iPhones “do not and cannot adequately perform due to the insufficient 3G bandwidths and AT&T infrastructure.” Is nothing sacred?

Don’t we still all remember those lines around the block to get into the AT&T stores to pick up the iPhone when it first came out? Don’t we remember the gadget envy as our “cutting edge” techie friend conspicuously played with their new iPhones in plain sight at the local coffee shop, seeming unaware everyone was edging closer to get a look at the new, groundbreaking device? Could it be that these folks were on the bleeding edge instead of the cutting edge of technology?

Litigation filed against Apple in federal district court in Texas allges that “[D]ue to the overloaded 3G network, it is quite common for iPhone users to only be on the 3G network for a few minutes before being bumped to the slower EDGE network despite being in geographical areas allegedly rich with 3G network coverage.” A suit in California makes similar allegations, but so far, Apple and AT&T Mobility are not commenting.

On the other hand, maybe most iPhone users don’t care. ComScore, a global Internet information provider, said that four out of the top ten phones used for games are iPhones: the 8 gigabyte 3G model at No. 1, the 8GB iPhone at No. 2, the 16GB iPhone 3G at No. 3, and the 16GB iPhone at No. 7. ComScore said users of Apple’s iPhone account for 14 percent of mobile game downloads. It added that mobile phone downloading of games tripled in November to almost three million.

Among smartphone users, the iPhone accounted for almost a third of the downloads, compared to a market average of 3.8 percent. Overall, an estimated 8.5 million people, or 3.8 percent of mobile subscribers,  downloaded a game in November. ComScore said about 20.5 million, or 8.9 percent, played a downloaded game.

Apple, Inc. may not care that much either. AppleInsider reports that Apple’s competitive edge may in part be due to timing. The various releases of the iPhone gave Apple a huge jump over the competition. As the economy sank, competitors were faced with a temporarily insurmountable lead, while purchases of new technology faded.

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Posted in business, technology, Unfair competition

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