Steve Jobs has asked the Apple board for and they granted a medical leave to focus on his health. He will stay on as CEO but has asked Tim Cook to take over the day-to-day operations of Apple.

Below is the email Jobs sent to all staff at Apple.

Team,

At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.

I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.

Steve

It is not surprising that Jobs made his announcement today while the US stock market (NASDAQ:AAPL) is closed for Martin Luther King Day, and a day before their earnings call on January 18th. Jobs probably does not want the earnings call to be focused on his health, but on the great financials of the company he and Steve Wozniak founded 35 years ago in Cupertino; still where the company's Headquarters is located.

I wish Jobs all the best and hope his health will recover in a very short time. In the mean time I have total confidence on Apple's executive team to drive the company forward for years to come in the directions that Jobs had lay out, whether they have Jobs in the helm or not.

I was reading the article, Chinese Worker & Apple iPhone 4G, from VentureBeat yesterday and it made me think that we are getting too much pressure at work. According to the story from Chinese sources [Chinese], last Thursday (July 16th) an employee of Foxconn, who is responsible for shipping prototypes from the factory in Shenzhen to Apple in Cupertino, committed suicide after being questioned for loosing one of the 16 prototype next generation (4th generation) iPhones. Is there a conspiracy?

On July 9th the employee, Sun Danyong, found one of the 16 iPhone prototypes missing, reported to his boss on July 13th, his apartment searched by Foxconn employees on the same day, and allegedly Sun was detained and abused physically during his detention. On July 16th Sun jumped to his death. Was this final act by young 25 year old Sun was the result of the pressure from Foxconn management?

I understand why Foxconn was so concern with the missing iPhone prototype, they must be worried that such an incident will damage their lucrative relationship with Apple. This concern was justifiable, as any information regarding unannounced or pre-release products by Apple garners a great deal of attention and potential value when sold. From the point of view of Apple, it could be very damaging for such a device to be leaked out to competitors or the media at this early stage of development. All in all these built up a great deal of demand for secrecy with all parties concerned.

Having said that there are ways to handle such an incident. Foxconn can inform Apple immediately and own up to the mistake; human error, and then let the experienced Apple PR handle the situation. Rather than acting on their [Foxconn] own to try to get to the bottom of the incident.

With Apple's innovative machine, I am sure the missing prototype was not the only idea Apple Design had in mind for the next generation iPhone (or media tablet). I am sure a leak like this will cost Apple a great deal and probably Foxconn, but no way it should cost someone's life. Although I am sure Foxconn management could not have predicted Sun action on the 16th.

Or can they?

The conspiracy theory is that someone up the chain from Sun had stolen the missing iPhone prototype, and s/he wanted to make it more believable as an authentic Apple iPhone prototype, so this person blamed Sun for the theft. Knowing that doing so will cause an incident, but may be not a suicide.

Otherwise, Foxconn may have kept the story hidden and only informed Apple, and the missing prototype may have been treated as just one of the many concept devices people often create to feed the Apple rumor mills. Now a person died for the prototype, this incident made the missing prototype much more valuable and validated it as authentic.

Can someone at Foxconn be so ruthless? That really depends how much the prototype was sold for. So many in China will do almost anything for money.

I want to say that I am not trying to lighten the sadness of Sun's death. It is indeed a sad consequence to such an incident. Nor am I saying that all mainland Chinese are corrupt. Can you imagine the type of pressure exists for employees of Apple?

Would love to hear readers' opinions on the subject. Should companies place such demand on their partners and employees for corporate secrets? Are there alternatives?

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesiphone, News

iPhone3GSThis afternoon 3 HK, Apple's official carrier partner in Hong Kong released details of their iPhone 3GS tariff plans. From the prices of these plans, it indicates that the "contract-free" version to be sold at Apple Online Store Hong Kong and other Authorized Apple Resellers will be around the same HKD5400.00 and HKD6200.00 prices respectively; as with the iPhone 3G, for the 16GB abd 32GB models.

These phones and tariff plans will be available to all starting tomorrow, July 10th, along with a 2-year contract. For existing 3 HK customers there will be 12-month contract at special upgrade prices. Details of which will most likely depends on the number of months into and the tariff plan of the existing contract. 3 HK iPhone 3GS Tariff Plans

It is a bit strange to see the HKD398.00 plan that suppose to have unlimited "local" data access has a HKD290.00/month cap based on HKD0.01/KB. At that rate HKD290.00 = 29MB, isn't that less than the 100MB free "local" data for the HKD138.00 plan?

[Updated: July 9, 2009, 18:00] Finally able to get through to 3 HK Sales Hotline; understandably busy this afternoon. They clarified the "unlimited local data" definition, it is indeed unlimited. The HKD290.00/month cap based on HKD0.01/KB only applies to tariff plans of HKD298.00 and lower. This HKD290.00 is only a cap on the additional data charges and does not mean the data access will stop after the customer incurred an additional HKD290.00 of data usage.

In this case, I must compliment 3 HK on releasing a very competitive "Unlimited data" tariff plan for the iPhone. I wish my current carrier, Smartone-Vodafone will respond with a competitive "unlimited data" tariff plan of their only after the iPhone 3GS is officially available through all Apple HK sales channels.

So far, the Apple Online Store Hong Kong still does not show any signs of it making the contract-fee versions available tomorrow. There were rumors yesterday saying that the July 10th launch is only for 3 HK and the rest of the Apple HK retail channels will not have the iPhone 3GS until months (6) later. For anyone who lived in Hong Kong long enough, we hope that is not true. As I for one will not want to switch to 3 HK nor get bound to a 2-year contract.

[Update: July 10, 2009, 00:00] Apple Online Store Hong Kong released their prices for the iPhone 3GS 16GB and 32GB at HKD5388.00 and HKD6288 respectively. That's a decrease of HKD12.00 and an increase of HKD88.00 of the previous price points (for the iPhone 3G).

[Update: July 10, 2009, 13:00] None of the Authorized Apple Resellers in Hong Kong currently have the non-contract versions of the iPhone 3GS, but according to my sources and Premium Authorized Apple Reseller in Hong Kong are suppose to be able to sell any item that are sold through the Apple Online Store Hong Kong. This means that Premium Authorized Apple Resellers in Hong Kong should also have the iPhone 3GS today or the latest Monday, depending on whether Apple and the resellers can get their logistics straighten out.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesiphone, News

Apple Tablet ConceptFor the past 8 years and may be as far back as the Apple Newton days, many including myself had speculated about Apple releasing a tablet computing/media device. This device will not be a replacement of your notebook computer but to supplement the PC you already own.

Ever since the introduction of the iPhone and the mobile version of OS X, I had imagined Apple releasing something that sits as a conduet among the Apple TV, iPhone and the Macintosh PC.

This device will act as a remote interface to the Apple TV, able to bring up detials about the show or movie (ie. the type of content available from IMDB.com) you are watching. Able to receive and make calls via the iPhone, or conduct video conference. Able to leveravge the computing power of the Mac if one is available, to perform any computing that is too resource intensive for the Apple Media Tablet. You can imagine it being the view into the personal cloud created by the connected devices on the network.

Here are some of the recent events that may support the idea of such an Apple Media Tablet..

March 11, 2009 It was reported that Apple had purchased a large quantities of 10" touch screens.

April 16, 2009 Microsoft is rumored to announce a Zune HD that does video, has the capabilty to surf the Internet, and play XBox games.

May 6, 2009 Amazon surprised everyone by announcing the Kindle DX weeks after the released of an improved version of its first generation Kindle reader. This new Kindle is much larger and has standard WiFi connectivity. At the time of announcement it had agreements from several international newspapers for making digital subscription of the respective newspaper available through the Kindle. The Kindle DX will not be available until the "Summer", but Amazon is currently accepting orders. May be the reason Amazon rushed the Kindle DX announcement, even though it will most likely hurt the Kindle 2 sales, is because Amazon was worry that Apple will release or announce their Media Tablet during WWDC the second week of June.

May 11, 2009 Apple released a new version of the OS X version 10.6 beta with Chinese handwriting input for multi touch devices. Since the iPhone already has Chinese handwriting input, this so called multi touch device that runs OS X 10.6 must be a new device that we have yet to see. Since Chinese handwriting input is already available on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

May 12, 2009 Palm is rumored to release the highly anticipated Palm Pre in June, and precisely June 7th. I think Palm should have waited after WWDC to do their annoucement and product release, so it can give the media and analysts time to absorb any potential Apple announcements, before comparing the Palm Pre to anything that Apple has.

Apple's COO said that the netbook market is something they will watch, they believe the current form factor is too "cheap" for Apple to enter. And they have some exciting ideas about this area. Remember the Portable Audio Player (MP3 player), the concept was not invented by Apple nor was Apple the first to release a MP3 player. With the introduction of the iPod Apple was able to own and dominate the market.

Before Apple entered the mobile phone market. Mobile phone manufactures were sticking to the status quo and consumers were happy buying these mediocure devices. That was only because no one had shown the consumer what is possible. Apple did that with the iPhone and the consumers became more demanding.

I am not saying that the aforementioned Apple Media Tablet is a netbook, but if and when Apple enters the popular netbook market Apple will do so as a leader. The device will be something no one in the industry had seen before.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesApple Inc-

iPhone 3G imageTomorrow morning (Tuesday, March 17, 10:00 US Pacific Standard Time) Apple will hold a special media event in Cupertino to announce the new iPhone firmware 3.0. In the past, iPhone firmware upgrades did not garner such fanfare. Especially when considering Apple's recent trend of not holding special events to announce new products, like the new Mac Mini, iMac, Mac Pro and iPod Shuffle, makes this event tomorrow that much more special. It also shows the significance Apple has placed on this upcoming announcement.

As always there are no definite information on the features that will be announced at the event. Of course, this had not stopped the rumor mill from generating lists of possible features for the yet to release iPhone firmware:

  • Cut, Copy & Paste
  • Enhanced Bluetooth functionalities
  • Improved camera software
  • A feature to allow layout management of application icons within iTunes
  • Multitasking

The less likely features are:

  • Tattering
  • MMS

I personally think that Multitasking may be built into the new firmware, but we will not see it enabled until the next version of the iPhone hardware.

Improvements in the camera software is welcome, but there are already several 3rd party applications, which had done a good job at improving the iPhone camera's ability to take better photos. One such program is "Darkroom" by Stepcase, which I use almost every day.

Having additional Bluetooth functionalities will also be welcome, particularly the ability to preform file exchange. I really miss the ability to send contact cards to any mobile phone with Bluetooth capability. This had been a feature I used on other mobile phones for years.

What do you think? Please feel free to add your opinions in the comments.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesiphone

iPod Shuffle 3GWhat is Apple doing? They released a new generation iPod Shuffle tonight (morning US PST) that is ultimate in minimalist.

Like the 2nd generation iPod Shuffle it had no display, which when the 2G was released back in September 2006, people thought Apple was crazy to release a MP3 player without a display. So much so, that the imitators (in China) created versions of the iPod Shuffle (2G) look-a-like that had a display and radio tuners.

Now with the 3rd generation iPod Shuffle Apple went further to remove over 50% of the controls from the previous model and achieve to deliver the rest of the controls with just one (3-way) switch.

Of course, Apple did not do this minimalistic approach hastily, they replaced the removed 50% controls with a multi-positions switch on the headphone. This is the same headphone that was shipped with the iPod Touch (2G).

To satisfy the critics who complain that the original iPod Shuffle did not have a display, Apple included voice over in the new Shuffle to announce the details of the currently playing track and playlists.

A flaw I see with this latest minimalist design, is for people who do not want to use Apple's headphones, they will have lost the ability to control the skipping, pause and play of the shuffle. Apple could have solve this by sliding the headphone control down the headphone cord and then made the cord a two pieces detectable. With one piece housing the pair of headphone and the other piece becomes an extension cord with the single switch control. So users with 3rd party headphone can easily plug their own headphone into Apple's extension cord with the control switch. Of course, this is not my original design, many manufactures (ie. Sony, LG, etc.) have this design.

Aside from a minimalist design of the new iPod, did Apple marketing also adopted a new approach? There was no fan fare to announce the new iPod, nor did they make any rumble when they released the new Mac Mini, iMac and Mac Pro last week. They also did the release on a Wednesday (US PST time) rather than the normal Tuesday release date.

Is this the new Apple, or is it just while Steve Jobs is absence? How many more product announcement are we to expect before Jobs' return? Given that almost all the hardware had been upgraded, they are only left with Apple applications and OS X, that latter which everyone have been expecting at this year's WWDC.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesopinion

Apple March 2009 Product Release Apple this morning (US PST) released new Mac Mini, iMac and Mac Pro. The former were not a surprise to me but the latter was. As I had thought Apple will leave the Mac Pro upgrade for WWDC, especially given the current economic climate.

First the Mac Mini, the previously leaked photos, from China, was indeed real. I guess Apple had not place a tight enough iron fist around the Chinese factories manufacturing their hardware. The form factor did not change from the previous model, but inside and the back had.

The new Mac has:

New Model Previous Model
CPU 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 1.83GHz or 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
System Bus 1066MHz 667MHz
Memory (RAM) Max. 4GB with 2 DIMM slots taking 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM Max. 3GB with 2 DIMM slots taking 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM
L2 Cache 3MB shared 2MB and 4MB shared
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
Video RAM 128MB or 256MB shared with main memory 64MB DDR2 shared with main memory
Hard Drive Options 120GB or 320GB 5400rpm SATA 80GB or 120GB or 160GB 5400rpm SATA
Optical Drive SuperDrive across the line Choice of Combo or SuperDrive
Firewire Port 1 Firewire 800 1 Firewire 400
USB Ports 5 USB 2.0 ports 4 USB 2.0 ports
Video Ports Mini DisplayPort & Mini-DVI output DVI output
Wireless (WiFi) AirPort Extreme Card (802.11n) AirPort Extreme Card (802.11b/g)
Bluetooth Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR
Ethernet 10/100/1000BASE-T (Gigabit)
Audio Ports Optical digital audio input/audio line in, combined optical digital audio output

This new Mac Mini with is improved separate video processor and more memory can now be a even better home media center with Boxee installed than before.

If we can only bring back Hulu on Boxee then it will be ideal.

As for the new iMac there was no design change except the wired keyboard that come in the box. Apple has removed the numeric keypad from the right of the keyboard. I personally think this is not good.

Anyway here are the comparison between the new and previous models:

New Model Previous Model
CPU 2.66GHz, 2.93GHz or 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (Core i7 on the 24" models) 2.80GHz or 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo ("Penryn")
Memory (RAM) Max. 8GB with 2 DIMM slots taking 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM Max. 4GB with 2 DIMM slots taking 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce 9400M with 256MB shared with main memory or NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 with 256MB or NVIDIA GeForce GT 130 with 512MB ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro or NVIDIA GeForce 8800GS
Video RAM 128MB or 256MB shared with main memory 64MB DDR2 shared with main memory
Hard Drive Options 320GB or 640GB or 1TB 7200rpm SATA 320GB or 500GB or 750GB or 1TB 7200rpm SATA
Optical Drive SuperDrive with 4x double-layer burning SuperDrive
Firewire Port 1 Firewire 800 1 Firewire 400, 1 Firewire 800
USB Ports 4 USB 2.0 ports + 2 on keyboard 3 USB 2.0 ports + 2 on keyboard
Video Ports Mini DisplayPort output with support for DVI, dual-link DVI, and VGA Mini-DVI output support for DVI and VGA
Wireless (WiFi) AirPort Extreme Card (802.11n) AirPort Extreme Card (802.11a/b/g/n)
Camera Built-in iSight camera
Bluetooth Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
System Bus 1066MHz
L2 Cache 6MB shared
Ethernet 10/100/1000BASE-T (Gigabit)
Audio Ports Optical digital audio input/audio line in, combined optical digital audio output
Infrared Port For Apple Remote only

The Mac Pro was improved in almost all elements I will not do a comparison here as there are too many, instead you can check them out at Apple's web site for the Mac Pro.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesNews

As we draw ever closer to the June 9th Steve Jobs' keynote at the opening of the WWDC in San Francisco, there are more any more allege photos of the next generation iPhone.Allege iPhone 3G Photo
I had always expected Apple to transform the iPhone over time. This is obvious, when we remember that the current iPhone is the first version of the "platform" that Apple has created. Remember what the iPod looked liked five years ago? Over the years Apple improved and introduced new features and functions for the iPod, then releasing the 3rd generation iPod nano and the iPod Touch in 2007. Can you imagine what the iPhone or the "Touch platform" may be like five years from now?

I anticipate there will be some hint of this "Touch platform" to be announced at Jobs' keynote on Monday, June 9th. I guess we will have to wait and see.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesNews

Vodafone logoThe reaction to the Vodafone announcement that it has strike a deal with Apple to release the iPhone in 10 countries: Australia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Italy, India, Portugal, New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey, was a mix bag of haters, be-littler and fan-boy. The iPhone arriving in Asia had been anticipated for some time. The latest is definitely good news for all the countries mentioned in the Vodafone press release.

As we all know, Vodafone has one of the largest worldwide mobile network, and has 3G coverage in many of them.

Whether Vodafone waited for the 3G version of the iPhone before signing the deal with Apple, no one really knows for sure accept the parties in these talks. Whether Apple will retire the 2.5G version of the iPhone is also a speculation.

No matter which country you're in, there are consumers who are happy with the speed and capabilities of a 2.5G network iPhone, and there are ones who need and want to pay for a 3G network iPhone. Ironically, the only exception being the United States, as 3G coverage is not that prevalent in North America.

Critics; particularly the Americans, should step back and recognize that Apple is aiming at the global mobile phone market and not just United States.

As for the original rumors about the iPhone's Asian launch, the stages are: India --> Australia/New Zealand --> Taiwan --> Hong Kong --> China.

Personally living in Hong Kong, should make me feel like a second class citizen; in this case 3rd or even 4th. But I am not disappointed, because like the thousands of iPhone users in Hong Kong, we are happily using our jailbroken/unlocked iPhone on every local carrier network since June 2007. Like most early adopters, will continue to do so until the 3G network version comes out, which I will upgrade to... anyone likes to buy an used iPhone?

Last week I unlocked an iPhone and tested it with a SIM card from Smartone-Vodafone. Today I unlocked another iPhone and this time using a SIM Card from Three (2G service without Data plan). Next I will be unlocking my own iPhone on Smartone-Vodafone. I have commented on my article last week, regarding the most appropriate data plan to choose from Smartone-Vodafone for iPhone use in Hong Kong. I have copied the comment here for my readers' convenience.

... As for the data plan. You need to be very careful with Smartone-Vodafone’s service offerings. I had tried their “Internet browsing plan” last month with my Nokia E61i. In case you do not know, the Nokia E61i has many advance functions. The result was an over and above data charge of approximately HKD119.00.

The reason is because Smartone-Vodafone’s “Internet browsing plan” only covers “web browsing using the mobile phone’s native web browser’. They also tell me that only certain HTTP ports are included in the plan. But they are not able to tell me exactly what those ports are.

It is obviously they did not think through the service before they launched the service. It is ridiculous for them to restrict the service to certain ports. As you may know, web browsing is not limited to certain ports; yes, there are the documented defaults: port 80 and port 443, but these are not the only ones used in practice. The exact port used by each web site is up to the webmaster’s configuration of their respective web servers.

Also, the 20MB limit is per day and if you go over it, Smartone-Vodafone will automatically change your monthly plan to the unlimited usage rate of HKD68.00 until your next billing date. On which they will drop it back down to the regular rate (HKD38.00 without commitment and HKD28.00 with 12 months commitment).

BTW: you do realize that the HKD20.00 per month rate for the plan in question requires a commitment to the said plan for 12 months. The non-commitment rate for the plan is HKD38.00.

Since the iPhone allows you to use it for web browsing, email downloads (POP/IMAP) and sending (SMTP), YouTube streaming, weather widget, Google map lookup, etc. I would suggest you subscribe to Smartone-Vodafone’s “Internet browsing plan”, which covers majority of the traffic through Safari, Weather widget, Google Map application on your iPhone. With that plan also add one of Smartone-Vodafone’s “Data Price plan”, this latter plan should cover the remainder of the Internet traffic.

Up to this day, after numerous conversations with Customer Service on the telephone, I still have yet to receive an exact answer from Smartone-Vodafone, as to what the “Internet browsing plan” covers.

I believe none of their staff know themselves. Unfortunately, it will be a trail an error on our (the customers) part. Fortunately, Smartone-Vodafone is one of the only mobile carrier that does not require any commitment for any of their plans or VAS.

Posted
AuthorVinko

Many of you know that I was in North America this past two weeks and was also in New York City. While at NYC I spent some time at the 5th Ave. Apple Store gaining some hands on experience with the iPhone. This was the first time I saw the iPhone in person and played with its applications and Multitouch interface. I will talk more about this in a separate post.

Getting back to the topic in question. While in NYC last week much had transpired regarding the unlocking (release of the lock down of the iPhone to the AT&T carrier). End of last month iPhone SIM Free announced that they had a software to unlock the iPhone from AT&T iron fist. They said that they will be selling the software on a per user (iPhone) license within a few days. Weeks had past and no announcements.All of a sudden last Sunday iPhone SIM Free announced 4 resellers for their software and on Monday this past week the resellers started to sell the software within hours the pre-order were full and Tuesday was when the iPhone SIM Free resellers started to fulfill their pre-orders.

Then Tuesday evening there was news of the Internet that the iPhone SIM Free software had been hacked. On Wednesday morning news of a verified OpenSource hack was spreading throughout the iPhone hacker community. On that same afternoon a beta application to unlock the iPhone had been made available. Later that evening written guides for people to follow start to appear. I personally like the guide by ModMyiPhone.com.

I told this to my friends back in Hong Kong and one of them asked me to get an iPhone for them and unlock it using the OpenSource method.

I was very excited to have the opportunity to try the hack, while at the same time a bit worry that I will create a USD400+ iPhone Brick if the hack fails.

Unfortunately, I was not able to get a clear WiFi signal from the hotel room and none of the Starbucks had free WiFi access and requires the patrons to be T-Mobile customers.

I even attempted to use the WiFi network at the 5th Ave. Apple Store, but the signal was too weak from the street level. I thought setting up my MacBook Pro and a brand new iPhone, to hack the iPhone using Apple's WiFi network was going a bit too far.

So, I had to give up and hope for the best when I return to Hong Kong with the brand new iPhone.

Tonight I got off the plane and as soon as I had unpacked and clean up, I attempted the hack. It was amazing aside from having to change my home WiFi network's channel, I did not have any other problems with the hack.

Within 45 minutes I had an iPhone on the Smartone-Vodafone network. Made a test call and then used the Edge network to connect to the Internet.

As far as I know this is the first published unlock hack of an iPhone in Hong Kong using the pure software (free) method, without reprograming the SIM card or opening up the iPhone itself.

[Update: October 3, 2007] The above described hack was done on a Macintosh, running Mac OS 10.4.10, iTunes 7.4.1, iPhone firmware 1.0.2, iNdependence 1.2.1a and the "iUnlock" application from iPhone Dev Team dated September 12, 2007.

[Update: October 4, 2007] For all those who are trying to get their EDGE connection working, please check out either Ross Barkman's GPRS Info page or ModMyiPhone's "Carrier APN Settings" page for assistance. If the carrier you're trying to connect is not listed on the ModMyiPhone Wiki page, please do your part to add to the list.

[Update: October 4, 2007] I am happy to confirm that I was able to synchronize successfully an unlocked iPhone to iTunes 7.4.2 running on the Macintosh.

[Update: October 5, 2007] All, especially those thinking of switching to Smartone-Vodafone.

I believe that some of the sales people at the stores are now telling customers that the "Internet Browsing Plan" is for 3G Voice Plan customers only. This is based on feedback from others who have spoken to Smartone-Vodafone.

I personally have a 3G Voice Plan from a previous phone, so the question never came up. I will try to confirm this at a store this afternoon.

One other thing is relating to the so called "extra features" that Smartone-Vodafone is offering for extra fees are not worth it. Do not fall into the trap. Also be aware of their "Fair Use" policy to avoid violating any of their policies.

[Update: October 23, 2007] Instead of my readers having to scroll down to the comments below or email me about the following must have knowledge about hacking your iPhone. I will post it here for all:

  • Activate the Voicemail button so that it calls your carrier's Voicemail service. Prior to doing this hack you will need to know the code to dial from your own mobile phone to access your carrier's Voice Mail service.For example, Smartone-Vodafone in Hong Kong, the code is "138" to reach the Voicemail from your OWN mobile phone.

    1. Go to the Phone button;
    2. Click on the Keypad button;
    3. Type the command: *5005*86*XXX#
      • where "XXX" is the access code for your carrier's Voice Mail service. In my example, I will enter "138" in place of the "XXX";
      • if your carrier's Voice Mail service has a number in the format *XXX, then you should enter the command *5005*86+XXX# instead.
    4. Click on the Call button.
  • Determine the firmware version of your iPhone straight out of the box from Apple before any hacking, activation or unlocking.
    1. Go to the Phone button;
    2. Click on the Keypad button;
    3. Type the command: *3001#12345#* to enter the Field Test mode;
    4. Select the Version item

    The following are the definitions of the "Firmware version" values:

    • 1.0.0 firmware has the modem firmware version 03.12.06_G
    • 1.0.1 firmware has the modem firmware version 03.12.08_G
    • 1.0.2 firmware has the modem firmware version 03.14.08_G
    • 1.1.1 firmware has the modem firmware version 04.01.13_G
    • 1.1.2 firmware has the modem firmware version 04.02.13_G
    • 1.1.3 firmware has the modem firmware version 04.03.13_G
    • 1.1.4 firmware has the modem firmware version 04.04.05_G
    • 2.0 firmware has the modem firmware version 04.05.04_G (all 1st generation iPhone stays at this modem firmware)
    • 2.0 firmware has the modem firmware version 01.45.00
    • 2.0.1 firmware has the modem firmware version 01.48.02
    • 2.0.2 firmware has the modem firmware version 02.08.01
    • 2.1 firmware has the modem firmware version 02.11.07
    • 2.2 firmware has the modem firmware version 02.28.00
    • 2.2.1 firmware has the modem firmware version 02.30.03
    • 3.0 firmware has the modem firmware version 04.26.08
    • 3.0.1 firmware has the modem firmware version 04.26.08
    • 3.1 firmware has the modem firmware version 05.11.07
    • 3.1.2 firmware has the modem firmware version 05.11.07

[Update: November 21, 2007] On November 12, the German courts ruled against T-Mobile and issued an injunction preventing T-Mobile from selling Apple iPhones requiring a 2 years contract. The injunction also prevents T-Mobile from selling Apple iPhones with the so called "SIM lock" that prevents users from switching the Apple iPhone to any other carriers.

This evening T-Mobile announced that they will be selling the Apple iPhone for EUR999.00 without a 2 years contract and continues to sell the Apple iPhone for EUR399 with a 2 years contract commitment. In addition T-Mobile will remove the SIM lock for any customers who wishes, including any customers who previously purchased the Apple iPhone from them.

This is all quite interesting. As there is now official "unlocked Apple iPhones" in the market. What will the iPhone hacking community do? Will they stop their continue unlock hack of the iPhone?

Last week the iPhone firmware 1.1.2 had been unlocked for iPhones with firmware 1.0.2 and 1.1.1, but not brand new out-of-the-box iPhones with firmware 1.1.2.

May be the iPhone hacking community can work on jailbreaking future iPhone firmwares and continue allowing unauthorized 3rd party native application on the iPhone. Hold on a sec... Apple will be doing the same in the coming February.

I guess the work and efforts of the iPhone Hacking community had succeeded. With the helps of various courts (first the French and then German), by Spring of 2008 the iPhone with be officially open to all networks and contains sanctioned 3rd party native applications.

This is another example of people power.

[Update: December 1, 2007] Sorry for the late posting of my findings regarding the most appropriate package(s) to subscribe to from Smartine-Vodafone.

After one and a half month of use, I have a fairly good idea whether my original proposed "Internet Browsing" and "2G/3G Data" plans are sufficient to allow for the freedom of using the iPhone, without worrying about the amount may be charged for the privilege.

Although these packages are not unlimited usage plans, they do provide enough data (GPRS/EDGE) allowance to cover the typical use of an iPhone. This includes features like: Mail, Stock application, Weather application, YouTube application, web browsing and various 3rd party applications that require Internet access.

These Smartone-Vodafone plans are: the HKD38.00/month "Internet Browsing" and the HKD118.00/month "2G/3G Data" plans; both these are non-commitment/contract prices.

As explained in my previous posting, for some undisclosed reason, the "Internet Browsing" plan does not cover all data usage on the iPhone, therefore one needs to also subscribe to a "2G/3G Data" plan. Otherwise you will be charged a data charge of HKD0.06/kb.

My test last month had me using 5.5MB of additional data usage aside from my "Internet Browsing" plan allowance. If I did not have a "2G/3G Data" plan I will have to pay an additional HKD330.00. If I had the HKD48.00/month "2G/3G Data" plan (the lowest available), I will still have to pay an extra HKD100.00.

Therefore I found the HKD118.00 "2G/3G Data" plan is the most economical choice, while allowing me to use the iPhone without any worries of being charged an extremely high data usage fee.

I hope these findings will help my fellow iPhone users in Hong Kong.

[Update: November 1, 2008]

I have now confirmed that the Internet Browsing plan; now known as IOM plan, indeed only cover HTTP and the corresponding HTTPS traffic. So any web traffic through Mobile Safari on your iPhone and any applications; whether it is downloaded from the Apple AppStore or unauthorized 3rd party, that uses the HTTP Posts and Gets will be covered in the Internet Browsing plan.

Any POP3 traffic will be outside of the Internet Browsing plan allowance and Smartone-Vodafone has a separate POP3 Email monthly plan for HKD30/month. As a result any IMAP or Exchange Push traffic will be count as regular Data traffic. I think this omission of IMAP and Exchange traffic from the Email monthly plan is the wrong thing to do for Smartone-Vodafone. Why would anyone choose POP3 over IMAP or Exchange email is beyond me. Especially when the iPhone is only one of many devices most users will use to access their emails, and definitely not the primary device. I urge Smartone-Vodafone to listen to its customers and change their Email monthly plan.

iPod TouchHave been in New York City for the past 3 days.

Today, while going into the Apple Store on 5th Ave. for a friend of mine who wants me to help them purchase an iPod nano in Red.

I notice something very odd. There were a table of iPod Touch set up for people to play with. They sat among the a bunch of iPod Classic (aka. 6G iPod) and there was no fan fare or poster advertising the fact that they had arrived.

According to Apple's original information the iPod Touch was not to be available until September 28th in United States. I wonder if they have also arrived early else where around the world.

Will this mean that the iPhone v1.0.3 firmware upgrade, that rumors to enable the WiFi iTunes Store on the iPhone is also imminent?

If you are located else where other than United States, please comment to this post to share your findings.

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AuthorVinko
CategoriesNews