Unlocking an out-of-contract iPhone is getting easier

Matthew Panzarino, for TNW:

We reported Friday that AT&T was beginning to unlock out-of-contract iPhones as of April 8th, today. Now a few more details of the process are available.

First, you can do this in-store, but you can also do it in an online chat at AT&T’s website. The process is painless and only takes a few minutes in the chat. The only piece of information required by AT&T is the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, which can be found under Settings>General>About on your device.

I will certainly give this a spin with my old 3GS.


The Verge takes on the rise and fall of RIM

An exhaustive and compelling cautionary tale.


Windows 8 vs. Mountain Lion

Anyone following Apple and Microsoft in the late 90s would have a hard time imagining a headline like this in 2012.  ExtremeTech’s Sebastian Anthony examines the upcoming strategies from each company later this year, and summarizes Microsoft’s situation like this:

The problem, of course, is that Windows 8 is a massive, revolutionary gamble that takes Microsoft way beyond its comfort zone. For 30 years, Microsoft has been making money on x86 PCs and servers, and the Office suite of software. With Windows 8, Microsoft is moving to a brand new architecture, giving away Office for free, doing away with the Start button and menu, and generally making a huge mess of the Desktop/Explorer side of things. Adding to this, Windows Phone 7 is limping along, and there’s no real indication that Windows drives users to the Xbox 360, and vice versa. In short, Microsoft needs Windows 8 to succeed on tablets and drive sales of Windows Phone 8… or it’s screwed.

I’m encouraged that Microsoft is striking out in a different direction with Metro and Windows 8, but I wonder if it’s enough.  While Apple essentially created new markets for itself and folded that success back to the traditional desktop computer, Microsoft is trying to push the other way with a “Windows everywhere” strategy that is a variation on their old theme.  The problem is that Windows Phone 7, while very good, hasn’t gained the traction needed to entice a large user base to “lock in” with the new experience across all devices.

The world began passing Microsoft by in 2007 when the iPhone hit, and the me-too mass market success of Android that followed further marginalized the former Redmond giant.  Painted into a corner, Microsoft feels they need to respond boldly with Windows 8, a largely unproven break from their traditional computing approach.  2012 is shaping up to be a very interesting year.


Easier to ask forgiveness than permission

Mobile app developer Path found itself in a tricky spot this last week when it was caught uploading an iPhone user’s entire address book to their servers without permission.  Needless to say the outcry was loud, and Path responded appropriately by deleting all user information from their databases, issuing an apology, and pushing out an updated iOS app that now gives the user control.  It’s the right move, but is that the end of the story?

According to PC World, it’s not so simple:

In 2010, questions were also raised about how Path handled users’ address books. At the time, Path said it was not storing any user information on its servers.

“Path does not retain or store any of your information in any way,” CEO and co-founder Dave Morin told Gawker then.

That was Path 1.0, and by 2.0 the app was handing over personal data, so this was clearly a conscious decision and not a lingering bug in the software.  This raises a serious question: should Apple be more diligent in protecting user data?  Is there a way for apps that are submitted for approval to be vetted for this type of information leak?  I’m thinking yes, and I would bet that Apple will change their approval process as a result.  They’ve been practicing this type of privacy protection for a while with location data on iOS, so that any application that wants to know where you are requires explicit permission and a notification icon appears at the top of the screen.  It seems to me that information like your personal address book should be elevated to at least that level of scrutiny.


RIM can’t save itself

Dan Frommer:

New Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins — previously a co-COO at the BlackBerry maker, in charge of product and sales — is too little, too late.

Unless Heins is secretly a rare, freakish visionary genius whose creativity has been stifled by his former bosses for all these years — he’s been at RIM since 2007, right when it started to get into trouble — he’s not going to save the company from its decline.

It’s been almost five years since the smartphone industry shifted radically, and Research in Motion is finally starting to realize.


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