AT&T, T-Mobile, August, etc.

The big tech/business story of the week is the AT&T/T-Mobile deal: AT&T wants to buy T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom, and Telekom wants to sell, given the $39 billion price tag. One of the things I mean by “big” is “lots of coverage.”

If I had to pick two pieces of required reading, the first would be Om’s account of who loses in this deal. “It’s hard to find winners, apart from AT&T and T-Mobile shareholders.” I can’t see that consumers will win from a deal that reduces the number of mobile phone competitors in the USA to two (or three, if you’re Sprint, or a lawyer for AT&T).

The second piece of required reading was the agreement on my T-Mobile G1 phone, to see when the agreement expires. It expires in August this year. I expect the regulatory scrutiny to last beyond then. I’m not sure what I’ll do for a phone after August…

Cloud Data in Danger

The data in question was in Danger. To be specific, the data were on servers operated by Danger, the subsidiary of Microsoft. The data in question included contacts, calendars, photos, etc., belonging to users of T-Mobile Sidekicks. This announcement from T-Mobile shows why I emphasize the past tense.

Regrettably, based on Microsoft/Danger’s latest recovery assessment of their systems, we must now inform you that personal information stored on your device – such as contacts, calendar entries, to-do lists or photos – that is no longer on your Sidekick almost certainly has been lost as a result of a server failure at Microsoft/Danger.

John Mayer tweeted happily about what he sees as the silver lining to this cloud failure: Perez Hilton loses 2000 contacts in his Sidekick (via Mashable Pete). That raises my opinion of John Mayer and of Twitter.

The interesting question is: who will be seen as the villain(s) in this story? Hilton apparently casts T-Mobile in that role. It seems to be that T-Mobile’s main mistake was putting Sidekick user data in Danger, and so Danger, and parent Microsoft, are more directly responsible.

And what will this Danger Disaster do to confidence in the cloud, and in other cloudy companies such as Google? Om contrasted this incident with the Google mail outage, pointing out that the Danger disaster is far worse. I think that the Danger disaster will be good for Google, and for other firms that are similarly seen as being cloud-competent (e.g., 37Signals).

I’m tagging this post DangerDisaster, not CloudCatastrophe.

Mobile, in More Ways Than One

I’m on the mobile web at last! Well, not at this precise moment, since I’m on a PC with a pleasingly large monitor. But the family now has a smartphone. That’s mainly at my wife’s prompting, since I am a fan of prepaid phone plans, rather than commitments to hand over hundreds of dollars to a carrier over a two-year period. But it’s good to have, in one compact device, a phone, a GPS, a camera, and web access.

We got a T-Mobile G1 (I feel obliged to provide a link to the G1 site, but you aren’t obliged to click on it unless you are ready for a multimedia assault on your senses). When I saw that TM is about to come out with a pay-as-you-go Android phone, I had a shouldda-waited moment: but then I reflected that smartphones will be in the shouldda-waited phase for a while, reminded myself that the G1 is useful on our current trip, and noted that it’s TMUK, rather than TMUS, that made the announcement.

Oh yes, the currrent trip. That’s another way in which I’m mobile. We’re visiting Philadelphia and some points south this week. And the points south are related to the move we’ll likely be making soon.

Anyway, this is the first post in a new category for this blog: Mobile.

Foaming About Phones

I currently have three phone numbers. I must confess that one is a landline. It’s on the same Verizon bill as our internet access. It’s pretty reliable, but seems expensive, and I doubt that we’ll have a landline after we move.

We recently got some voicemails from Verizon about voicemail. Apparently the system will soon be upgraded, and the upgrade will not be completely automatic for all customers: some manual intervention will be required.

I’m surprised that I haven’t heard about this upgrade from other sources. I can find nothing about it at I’ve seen nothing about it in Boston media, although I should confess that I haven’t made a systematic search of either old or new local media.

My second number is for my cellphone, or was until my cellphone recently died. I use a T-Mobile prepaid plan. I previously posted about T-Mobile’s customer service, or lack thereof. My more recent experience is that service is pretty good once I get through to a human being, but that I have to provide my phone number an inordinate number of times before that happens.

My third number is on GrandCentral. It will become a Google Voice number if I am ever able to access it.

But I can’t access my GrandCentral number. I’ve forgotten my password. Attempts to reset it just lead back to a page that prompts for the very password I’ve forgotten.

While I’m not thrilled with the service I get from Verizon and T-Mobile, at least there is service. That’s more than can be said for GrandGoogle.

New Phone From T-Mobile

No, not the phone you’re thinking of. I mean the Motorola flip phone that arrived today so that I could move my cheapskate cellphone business from TracFone to T-Mobile.

Since I posted about that decision a few days ago, a couple of things have changed. One is that I went for a slightly less basic phone than the one I had in mind: a Motorola V195s seemed like a good deal at $30 (no contract required), given that it included a $25 prepaid card.

The other thing that’s changed is that I have formed an opinion about T-Mobile service, and it’s not a positive one. All I needed was for the phone to be activated and my existing cell number to be assigned to it. I spent hours on the phone, and spoke with about half a dozen people altogether. All seems to be well now.

But, given that Android for now means T-Mobile, my enthusiasm for an Android phone has diminished. Of course, there’s plenty of time for that to change.

Cell Me a Phone

We are about to enter the age of the Android. As Daniel Langendorf at last100 puts it: “The long-awaited Google phone will be announced next Tuesday… The phone, which features the first release of the Android operating system, will be available near the end of October.”

I’d like a Android phone. I also intend to ditch my current phone, and can do so with no early termination charge. That makes the timing seem good.

But I think that I’ll hold off until next year. That thought is reinforced by arguments such as: the first Android phone is primarily a novelty. I’ll add that the HTC Dream is novel in its ugliness.

But my main reason for holding off on Android is that I expect the next few months to see a lot of bug-fixing, new handsets (not all of which are ugly), and application development and porting. So some time next year, perhaps in the spring, might be the time to invest in Android.

So what should I do for a cellphone for the next 6 or so months? I obviously don’t want to lock in to a plan for 2 years. I’ve never wanted to do that, and I certainly shouldn’t do it right now.

T-Mobile prepaid plans seem to rate fairly well. Since T-M is the carrier for Android (right now, the only carrier), it’ll be good to check out the T-M network. Since a Nokia 1208 is currently available from T-M for less than the value of the prepaid card they throw in with it, there doesn’t seem to be much risk. I certainly don’t fear that T-M will be worse than TracFone, which I have endured for too long now.

By the way, I know that the Nokia 1208 is a very basic phone. That’s fine by me for the moment. In fact, I rather like the fact that it draws reviews like this.

I have this phone and i am very mad. man shop telling me phone good but when i get home there be no camera bluetooth and memory card. do not be buying. You should not buy this phone will only make phone calls texts and nothing else, what is the point in that? havin a phone that only make calls. Be warned Nokia!!!

Comments and advice welcome…