July 16, 2010

Reaction to Apple’s Press Conference

I call this: phones,tech — Posted by KP @ 2:42 pm

Engadget’s live blog

1. Despite Steve not-quite-answering the question about whether they would make hardware changes by sort-of-but-not-really saying “no,” I’m not convinced that if I buy an iPhone today it would be identical to the one I would buy in a month. And since they obviously won’t acknowledge a change in the hardware, I would have no recourse if I later found out the phone I bought was inferior to the later ones.

2. They seem to think they’ve fixed the problem. Giving people a free case and full satisfaction guarantee is an appropriate response to the situation, and I appreciate that. But putting a case over the phone is not the same thing as fixing the PHONE, and I find that a little unsettling that at once they say there is no problem and never was any problem, but also they have now fixed it. By giving away a $30 case, and making no change to the $700 phone itself.

3. As a prospective buyer, I like that they are giving an option of various cases. I posted somewhere on the interwebs a few days ago that if they did indeed give out free cases, I hoped it would be in a selection of colors, as being forced to use a case was bad enough, but it would be nice to at least have some basic options of personal style.

4. My desire to purchase the phone from Radio Shack to get the trade-in on the 3GS complicates the situation. The 30-day guarantee is great. They say most people don’t have a problem with the phone at all — now you can find out for yourself and be under no obligation if you are one of the minority with the problem. Great. Except if I trade in my 3GS, and my iPhone 4 doesn’t work, I don’t expect Radio Shack to give me my old phone back. If Apple was willing to replace the iPhone 4 with a 3GS instead of a refund, I would feel fine about the situation. Except that they apparently no longer sell 3GS’s with 32GB. A refurb would be fine, but I’m skeptical. And they don’t really say how the refund will work if you bought the phone from a third party store. I’m curious to hear what those kinds of policies will be, once the other retailers catch up to what Apple just announced.

5. For me personally, the 30-day return period doesn’t help me now. I’m currently in an area with pretty good AT&T coverage, and will be for about the next 35 days. I want to use it in Manhattan (and in Fargo, for that matter, although that’s more impractical) before I decide if it works or not.

I still really want the phone, but money is tight, even with a job, after just barely being able to pay off my Macbook Pro, and I’ll be unemployed for most of September. Buying it without trading the 3GS would be irresponsible. For a number of reasons, I don’t think I should make a move for at least a month — to see if a minor change is made in manufacturing, to test the phone in NYC, and so that by the time the credit card bill is due, I’ll have gotten at least one check from The Acting Company!

I am still really enjoying iOS4 on my 3GS, especially now that Google Apps has fixed a settings problem that caused all Standard users to be forced to use a 1-minute auto-lock on the phone (just delete and recreate your account on the phone if you’re experiencing it).

There are a number of purchases valued between $100-300 I’ve wanted to make in the months since I had to replace my Macbook Pro, and a few of them are actually things I would rather have sooner than a new iPhone. If I can only afford just one in the near future, the iPhone would not be my first choice.

I’m very curious to see what the reaction is to all this in the coming days and weeks, though.

Amazon’s Mind-Reading Service Not Ready For Primetime

I call this: tech — Posted by KP @ 12:53 pm

Dear Amazon,
I have been a loyal customer for 13 years. I’ve had your credit card for as long as I’ve had credit. But today I am very disappointed.

I was running low on dietary supplements, and decided I should order some more ASAP. I was going to do it when I got home, which is where I prefer to place online orders, so I don’t rush through them. But this seemed like a simple one, so when I had a moment of free time at the theatre before our final dress rehearsal, I selected the one item I wanted, and with a few clicks placed my order.

Because I’m an Amazon Prime member, I sent it using two-day shipping for free. I received your notice that it had shipped on the day I ordered it (thanks!), but since it’s a pretty boring delivery, I never clicked on it to check the tracking status.

So today was the day it was supposed to arrive, so this morning I clicked on the tracking status to see if it had been delivered yet. When I get to the basic summary screen I see
I thought it was kind of funny that it was going through the Bronx on the way to Boston. I also was a little disappointed, since obviously that meant it was going to be late.

Then I clicked on the details.
Amazon.com - Your Account

Oh. OH! Ah. I see where there was some confusion.

Now Amazon. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what happens when you assume. In this case you seem to have made an ass mostly out of me. But still.

I’m at that stage where the other day I was talking to my board op about interior decorating or something, and had to take a minute to concentrate very hard on remembering what my apartment looks like before I could comment on whether I would like to decorate that way. That also happened last year, when I saw some towels I liked at Bed Bath & Beyond, and then realized I couldn’t decide if I liked them until I was sure what color my bathroom was.

So in light of this, the fact that my default shipping address at Amazon is my apartment seems completely nonsensical, and never once crossed my mind while I was placing that order.

If I’m receiving a package, it’s going to:

  1. Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston
  2. My parents on Long Island
  3. The Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis
  4. Some random hotel somewhere in the United States

The last place on earth I would actually be is at my apartment!

I would think with your billions of dollars, you would by now have developed a better system to read your users’ minds, and prevent things like this from happening. At the very least there needs to be an app for that. I have the Amazon app, and I never use it because it doesn’t seem to offer much. Here’s what it needs:

  1. Customer places order with Amazon
  2. Push notification sent to customer’s iPhone asking them to open the app to load their order status
  3. When the app opens, access the user’s current location
  4. If the user is more than 100 miles from the shipping address, and the package is addressed to their name, be like, “Are you sure you know where you live?”
  5. If the user says no, tell them what an idiot they are and pop up a screen where they can select a different shipping address.

Thankfully it looks like UPS has an option to change the delivery address on an item (for a fee) once a delivery attempt has been made. I’ll have to try that. But for the future, please work on that mind-reading thing.

Update: I had to have someone get the delivery sticker off the door to get an additional code number off it, but with that number I was able to have the package redirected to me up here. It cost me about $15 for my stupidity (a $4 flat stupidity fee, and the rest was the actual cost of the shipping from NY to Boston), but the shipping was surprisingly fast. It took like two days. I figured they’d send it by mule or something. So there you go. I hope you never do something stupid like that, but there is a solution and it was a lot cheaper than the value of the item.