Posts tagged “verizon”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] A gadget’s life: From gee-whiz to junk [WaPo] – [An interactive graphic that shows the price-adjusted adoption curves of consumer electronics (TVs, phones, fax machines, mobile phones, printers, computers, modems, VCRs, camcorders, digital cameras, DVD players, boomboxes, radios, CD players, MP3 players). Via @Waxy]
  • [from julienorvaisas] Boredom Enthusiasts Discover the Pleasures of Understimulation [] – [Kindred spirits celebrate the benefits and glory of all-things boring! For the researcher not much actually qualifies as boring.] For seven hours, 20 speakers held forth on a range of seemingly dreary diversions, from "The Intangible Beauty of Car Park Roofs" and "Personal Reflections on the English Breakfast," to "The Draw in Test Match Cricket" and "My Relationship With Bus Routes." Meanwhile, some of the 200 audience members—each of whom had paid £15 (about $24) for a ticket—tried not to nod off. Karen Christopher of Chicago, who now lives in London, found at least one presentation so wearisome that she stopped paying attention. "I started thinking about Swedish police procedurals instead," she said. The organizers did their best to keep the audience alert. Many viewers brought coffee, and each received a goodie bag containing an energy bar. After a much-needed break, a drawing was held. Some of the winners got a DVD called "Helvetica," a 2007 documentary about typography.
  • [from steve_portigal] Verizon iPhone Won’t Fit Many Existing iPhone 4 Cases [Technologizer] – [Technology designers giveth, and they taketh away. The process of shopping for accessories just got more complex; Yes, you have an iPhone but what KIND of iPhone?] It appears the Verizon iPhone uses a slightly different antenna design that repositions the gaps between the phone’s multiple external antennas (found in the metal ring around the phone’s outer edge). Along with this change, the phone’s Ring/Silent switch has been moved ever-so-slightly closer to the bottom of the phone. While the difference between the switch positions may seem small, it’s enough that a protective iPhone case made for the original iPhone 4—the version sold by AT&T here in the U.S.—may not work with the Verizon iPhone 4. Specifically, if a case covers the edges of the phone, providing separate precision openings for the Ring/Silent switch and the volume buttons, there’s a good chance that the switch opening will be in the wrong location—in other words, the case will block access to the Ring/Silent switch.

Explaining your product puts you ahead of the pack

A few weeks ago I saw this full-page newspaper ad for Verizon’s Hub:

I’ve blown up the smaller text at the bottom:

The phrase “the home phone reinvented” reminds us that explaining a new product in terms of what it is replacing, enhancing, or integrating with is often a very effective way to help ground something new. But the ad works mostly by establishing a physical context (the kitchen) and a use case (distributed family communication and meal planning). The actual functional specs are presented almost as an afterthought in the footer and greatly in service of the “reinvented” aspect.

I was excited by this ad because it does a reasonable job at something crucial that so few companies are actually doing: explaining clearly what their product is and who it is for.

I don’t know if this product is a good idea or a bad idea; it’d be fascinating to see how new users begin to use it and what sense they make it of it. But it seems that this product team Verizon is at least half a step ahead of many technology groups out there who collect a bundle of technology together but fail to create a compelling story about why this matters.

We Are The Product

There’s an advertising aesthetic I’ve long been fond of, showing a diverse range of customers tiled to demonstrate, often in a faux-anthropological fashion, that the product appeals to everyone, but that as different as people are, they have this one thing in common. The other message conveyed is that you, or “we” are the brand, collectively, evoking every cheesy movie scene where one by one the people in the crowd step forward and identify themselves as the oppressed protagonist, showing solidarity and often confounding the square villains who don’t understand true friendship (think “I am Spartacus!” from Spartacus, “I am Malcolm X!” from Malcolm X, “I am a drag queen!” from To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar).
Some examples:
Rolling Stones, No Security, 1998

Tokyo subway, 2002

Verizon ad, 2002

This notion, if not exactly the same visual treatment, is being evoked effectively in the I’m a PC ads and the associated website

(Thanks to Tom Williams and Phoebe for their help with this post)

Welcome to 2007, dude

Last week I said goodbye to my old cellphone. A Motorola v60i that I’d had for oh, 5 years or something. Back when they were free and everyone seemed to have one. Technology has jumped forward a few times since then, but having worked in a cell-coverage-free-location, it didn’t make much sense to keep up with it.

Anyway, time to take a leap:

First time I’d switched cell providers, after having a phone for 10 years. Nice to be able to bring the number. Ordering took forever, since my billing address is a PO Box (we don’t have home delivery of email in Montara) a lot of e-commerce sites break. Street addresses don’t pass verification (since they aren’t real addresses to the USPS) and PO Boxes aren’t acceptable. So after trying to place my order (let’s set aside the long process of figuring out what the heck I’d want) I did an online chat with a rep who directed me to phone in. That took well over 30 minutes; they were nice, but what a pain.

A few days later, the phone arrives. The welcome kit that I was supposed to get by email hadn’t arrived. There’s absolutely no information in the package about how to activate it. Google helps me find a Cingular page, and of course it doesn’t work (“check back later!”). After a day, I call in. I spent about 30 minutes on the phone being passed to various reps who can’t seem to activate it and keep escalating to a higher lever of support. Hours later, the phone will make outcalls but not receive any incoming calls. They’re going to the old phone (this is known as mixed service, I think, as part of the porting process – I love the jargon). Another 30 minutes on the phone. Finally it’s all working.

Now I’m wearing my bluetooth earpiece (thanks, Plantronics for all the freebies) and looking like a douche. Meanwhile, basic activities like setting the ringer to vibrate, calling my voice mail, calling from my address book are all milestones on the steep learning curve (mixed metaphor alert). Not to mention things like syncing to the PC, surfing the web and someday figuring out how to read my email on this thing. It’s kinda fun, and it’s a GSM phone, which means I can buy another piece of hardware anywhere I want, and simply move a chip from inside this phone into that phone. This is a really revolutionary idea and it’s not in any ways new, but how come people don’t talk about this more. It’s incredible!

SMS ya later!

Steve Portigal, we have a special gift in store for you.

I received a Verizon promotion recently, the text on a white box over pale gray stripes on the background of the card (think of a linen suit that Gatsby might have worn). Flip it open and it reads

Come into your local
Verizone Wireless Communications Store
and leave with a Loyalty Credit.

New 2-year agreement required

This cracked us up around here; it reads like a typographic version of the ad speak so beautifully parodied by SNL and the Simpsons, where a smarmy announcer trumpets a ridiculous claim and a fast-talking serious voice denies that claim immediately: Blammo will Save Your Life!saving-of-life-not-guaranteed.

I’ll get a Loyalty Credit (? turns out that means $30) if I sign up for two more years? Nice to be offered the chance to demonstrate my loyalty in order to get some reward. The presentation suggests I am being rewarded for actual loyalty, something that has already happened, but in fact, they are rewarding for future loyalty, because that’s what a company actually cares about! What have you done for me lately!

Verizon to End Airline Telephone Service

I wrote (a while back) about phone calls on airplanes, and was intrigued to see this news today

Verizon Airfone, whose handsets have graced the backs of airline seats for more than two decades, will end its phone service on commercial airliners before the end of the year.

Verizon Communications, Airfone’s parent company, has decided instead to focus on its faster-growing broadband, cellular and television businesses, Jim Pilcher, the director of marketing at Verizon Airfone, said yesterday.

Though Mr. Pilcher declined to say how many customers Airfone has, industry analysts said the service was rarely used. Verizon, they said, would have had to spend heavily to install newer, more compelling technology.

“The business they went after is the calling business, and the reality is no one sits on planes and makes calls,” said Jonathan Schildkraut, a telecommunications analyst at Jefferies & Company. Verizon has “much bigger fish to fry,” he said.

Airfone, which Verizon acquired when it bought GTE in 2000, has phones in about 1,000 planes operated by Continental, Delta, United Airlines and US Airways. The company will work with the airlines to figure out how to remove the phones and other equipment from the planes.

Airfone, which began service 21 years ago, is still exploring the option of selling the business. Mr. Pilcher declined to say whether his company had identified any potential buyers.

Airfone will continue to provide telecommunications services on about 3,400 corporate and government planes.

I’ve rarely seen the phones used, as their expert suggests. Do we think data services (i.e., get your laptop on the Internet while you fly) is a bigger fish? Is using your own personal cell phone a bigger fish? Maybe we’ll get seatback LCD screens in place of the phones. Or in-seat pretzel dispensers that could make use of the credit-card-swiping mechanism already in place?

Can’t change address

Today’s Change-of-Address screwup is Verizon Wireless. I changed my address online more than two months ago. Still getting bills sent to my old address. Went to their website and verified that, yes, in fact, they DO have the correct address. Contacted customer service who told me that they have my old address in their system (when I’m staring right at the NEW address in their system). I sent them a screen grab of what I was seeing to prove it.

We received your recent e-mail notifying us of your change of address. This address has been updated, and future bills will now be mailed to your new address. If your contact numbers have changed, please email us back with the updated numbers.

Not exactly what happened (I sent them an email with the information that was already in their system), but if it does the trick, I guess that’s good enough. I can’t believe how many places I have had to go through the change process twice. Sad, really.


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