A recent announcement by AT&T alerts to an increase in early termination fees for iPhones ... from $175 to $350 per line for new contracts. Not withstanding the insult of draconian fees, surcharges and use taxes on cell phone bills AT&T maintains its service is exemplary. Except, of course, if you happen to live in a large metropolitan area.

The "fix" is to provide free WiFi service in cities like New York and San Francisco to relieve the load of calls running through its cellular 3G service.

Keep waiting.

And if you're thinking of moving to another service using the
HTC Droid, think again. I received a "comeback to Verizon" offer following the cancellation of a PC modem for those rare instances when I cannot find a WiFi signal. The offer was for $100 off on a new phone. Since I did not cancel a phone I chalked the offer up to poor CRM management.

But the kicker to Verizon's offer was in the mouse type "terms" that will charge an early termination fee of $350 for "advanced devices". A call to Verizon confirmed that "advanced devices" refers to smart phones like the Droid.

You simply cannot win....or can you?


More likely than not you have seen the AT&T commercial that drapes the nation's major landmarks with saffron colored bolts of fabric. The thirty second commercial (below) produced by BBDO drew immediate attention from viewers that recalled the "Gates project" by Christo, exhibited in New York's Central Park in February 2005.

Inspiration is a good thing. But give credit where credit is due.

The initial airings of the AT&T commercial did not credit Christo and wife Jeanne-Claude as artists for the "Gates" project.
Someone must have complained.

In Stuart Elliott's New York Times
column on May 19th, a reader posed the question to him. Elliott, in turn, contacted BBDO and received a response from Fleishman-Hilliard, AT&T's public relations agency to wit: “The artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude have had and have no direct or indirect affiliation or involvement with the creation of AT&T’s advertising.”

The commercial, currently airing, now has a disclaimer that reads: "The artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude have no direct or indirect affiliation or involvement with AT&T"

Is this inspiration or a stolen vision ? In either case it appears AT&T is not giving the artists credit. Watch the video and vote below.

Now vote!


In just over one short year Foursquare, a location based, mobile driven social networking site caught fire in over one hundred metropolitan areas, quickly generating as many as one million users. Today, it's a worldwide service catching the eye of Yahoo! and a reputed offer of $125 million for the service.

Is Foursquare just another novel use of social networking that will fade away in a couple of years? What benefits does the service provide its users? Why bother?

Foursquare may just be another application searching for a user base but is, despite its somewhat hokey attempt at gaming, providing useful localized information on a variety of venues.

A user for several months now I can see the potential for the service .... as long as the founders recognize the need to limit input to useful information.

It needs to clean up its act a bit.

Awarding "badges" may be cute, but it just becomes an annoying "side dish". As users "check in" to venues they visit, the service then posts the venue for all to see. Not limited to restaurants or retail venues, there are "check-ins" for street corners, user apartments, etc. .... a sort of wild west listing with some offering no redeeming value.

The tie to the mobile ecosystem offering mobile "coupons" is the key to Foursquare's success. Building an opt-in mobile database will secure their future as they tie themselves to venues focused on local advertising and build relationships with online and offline media industry partners.

With a little clean up and smart strategic positioning I would give Foursquare a better chance of long-term survival and success than Facebook.


It starts with a small drip, drip, drip....

Unchecked and unregulated it can grow to become a looming disaster affecting all aspects of personal and private information. Like the leaking oil in our gulf it will have lasting impact on individual "environments".

When Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook suggests to his employees that there is no such thing as privacy and when Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google insists that privacy should not be an issue if you have nothing to hide, it's time to worry.

Be very, very worried.

The infographs that follow trace the "privacy spill" perpetuated by Facebook in five short years. They tell the story better than I can in this short blog post.

Click on the graphs to enlarge.

A shout out and thanks to a reader (Yen) for passing this along.


Chances are that you could not escape this past week's news ... almost all bad.

From the BP oil spill and its danger to wildlife and fishing fleets, resulting in the loss of thousands of livelihoods, to the roller coaster ride on Wall Street and the explosive financial meltdown in Greece. It has been, at the very least, a depressing start to May. Add the massive flooding in Nashville and the bomb threats in New York .... you get the picture.

Jon Stewart's Daily Show took advantage of the week's top stories to pull together the video that follows:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Family Research Council's European Gaycation
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

In contrast to Stewart's report, this music video sung by Anne Murray provides a better perspective and gauge of feelings across the country. How little the world has changed since it was first written in 1983!


Some would think the current buzz around 3D and its promise to revolutionize both theater and home screen viewing is worth rushing to the nearest Best Buy to place an order for the newest 3D TV.

Like so many lemmings.

Contrary to industry statistics on the popularity of 3D, it is far from a technology that can support a viable business model. It is expected that, by the end of this year, just under one percent of households will have a 3D TV.

Let me repeat that ....just under one percent will have a 3D TV.

Do the math. The massive investment to produce, refit theaters and manufacture TVs and computers that will work in 3D (assuming standards are established) for a viewing experience that is, even in its early stages, coming under scrutiny as "potentially unsafe" defies logic.

History repeats itself and if the 1950's has a lesson we should learn from it is that 3D, purely and simply, is a novelty.

Reports of headaches, uncomfortable viewing experiences and, in the case of the recent release of Alice In Wonderland, critics prefer the 2D experience. 3D is a diversion and the only growth segment for the technology lies with gaming.

Dr Michael Rosenberg, an ophthalmology professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago said ...."in a 3D movie, people are confronted with an entirely new sensory experience. That translates into greater mental effort, making it easier to get a headache. I think it will be a gimmick. I suspect there will be a lot of people who say it's sort of neat, but it's not really comfortable," he said.

For those individuals that are nearsighted, wearing glasses over glasses adds another layer of discomfort. It is estimated that at least thirty percent of the population requires corrective vision for nearsightedness.

Still not convinced? If you're part of the one percent that will bite this year, get ready to shell out $3900 for a Sony 3D TV and about $135 for each set of glasses. And remember to have a few spares around for guests when they come over to watch the Superbowl.

Click here for a comprehensive 3D movie list.