Thursday, October 13, 2011

So you didn’t stay up until nearly 3:00 am last Friday morning to pre-order your iPhone 4S like I did, huh? Well, you missed out on all the fun! So there you are contemplating if you should go stand in lines Friday at one of the three cellular carriers or at the Apple Store. What to do? If you’re thinking, ‘No way I’m standing for hours only to be told there are none left,’ then you have the online alternative. BUT, which one should you go with? Best Buy? Radio Shack? AT&T? Verizon? Sprint? Take a look at STELLAService found before making your next click below and do it the easy way!

View Press Release »

New York City (October 13, 2011) – For consumers seeking to avoid lines by purchasing the iPhone 4S online, a report out today says is hands down the best choice over the four other online resellers thanks to its consumer-friendly services and policies, including the superior quality of its customer service phone support and its expansive AppleCare+ warranty program.

“ outperformed its reseller partners hands down when it comes to customer service, and we found no reason that consumers should look anywhere else,” said STELLAService co-founder and CEO Jordy Leiser. “With pricing for the iPhone 4S uniform across all online sellers, the overall quality of customer service should be the deciding factor in choosing where to buy the iPhone 4S online”

For the report, STELLAService looked at the five retailers and carriers offering the iPhone 4S online –,,,, and In addition to evaluating key policies and features, such as return and warranty policies, STELLAService rated the quality of customer service phone support by placing ten phone calls to each retailer and asking ten questions — from how to buy insurance to how to change a pass code lock.

Dedicated to helping consumers make more informed buying decisions, STELLAService is an independent company that leverages a nationwide network of full-time mystery shoppers to evaluate online retailers across more than 350 customer service metrics, including shipping, returns, and customer support.

Leiser said STELLAService conducted the study to provide consumers with clear guidance in light of unclear policies, misinformation, rumors, and scams relating to online retailers selling Apple products. Leiser points out that, which provides a list of authorized online resellers for its popular products, such as the iPod and iPad, does not provide a list of authorized online sellers for the iPhone.

Other findings from the study include

To evaluate the quality of customer service phone support, STELLAService rated each seller based on factors such as product knowledge, issue resolution, and overall tone and attitude of the customer support representatives.’s representatives earned the highest score overall (4 out of 5), significantly outpacing others when it came to their ability to address questions (4.4 for Apple vs. 3.6 for AT&T and Verizon). STELLAService said the average customer service quality score for consumer electronics retailers was 3.7.
While allows customers to purchase the iPhone 4S online, it does not offer shipping and delivery. As of the days leading up to the iPhone 4S release, customers could only pick-up the product in stores.’s AppleCare+ warranty program is by far the most cost-effective. Even though it does not cover loss and theft, the monthly fees and deductions for BestBuy’s Geek Squad and AT&T’s and Verizon’s Asurion warranties come close to the cost of buying a completely a new iPhone. and offer the most generous return window for a refund (30 days) versus 14 days for AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon and do not charge customers for returning an iPhone 4S, while AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon each have a $35 restocking fee.
AT&T is only online seller that does not allow customers to trade-in old phones by mail. AT&T customers can only trade-in phones in-store.

About STELLAService
Dedicated to helping consumers make more informed online shopping decisions, STELLAService is the first and only independent provider of customer service ratings for online retailers. The company leverages a nationwide network of full-time mystery shoppers to evaluate each site undercover, ensuring findings that are unbiased and true to the shopping experience. STELLAService has been profiled in Advertising Age (“STELLAService strives to give e-tailers credibility”) and its data has been featured in outlets such as Time, SmartMoney, Consumerist, and CBS Money Watch . Based in New York City, the company also publishes reports and other research to help companies worldwide improve their service operations. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter at @STELLAService. Like us on Facebook at

Friday, October 7, 2011

When the first iPhone debutted in 2007, I dragged my kids with me to the local AT&T store in my small Central California town of Manteca. It was festive and pleasant as my children sat huddled together against the windows of the AT&T store listening to a story on my iPod. The now defunct bank Washington Mutual next store added to the excitement by passing out free hot dogs and drinks! In just a few hours, I was the fourth one into the store and minutes later had my 16GB iPhone!

I didn’t line up in the following years for the iPhone on its day of release but did have to weather some lines when I finally did make the upgrade purchase. This year, however, I’d rather not spend a day in the mall hoping the Apple Store does not sale out of inventory before it’s my turn. No, this time I am ordering online seeing how it went so well with Verizon iPhone 4 orders in February. Mmm, the irony unfolds.

So, I revved up my browser at 11:50 last night and logged into the Apple Store. By 11:58, up came the notice that the store would be back soon. I found this as a good sign. Apple was gearing up. By 12:05, I realized it was no longer a good thing. By 12:15, I was becoming irritated. By 12:30 am, it was down right uncalled for.

I monitored my twitter feed to see if others were experiencing the same issue. Indeed, I was not alone. Macworld’s Dan Frakes (@danfrakes) posted, “I’ve memorized the phone numbers up to España.” CNet’s Brian Tong (@brian_tong) blasted, “iPhone 4S pre-orders are Siri-ously L-A-M-E. Thanks AT&T and Apple!” I couldn’t resist replying, “@brian_tong If I had an iPhone 4S, I’d say, “Siri, tell me when Apple gets its act together and the web page is ready for orders.”"

Finally, at 12:35, Apple brought it’s site back online for pre-orders. But the joy was short lived as Frakes posted what we all were seeing, “And stuck on the “Are you a new or existing AT&T wireless customer” page. Continue takes me back to the same page over and over”. Worse yet, if you were like me, Firefox 7 for the Mac wouldn’t render the site properly – still doesn’t as of this writing – and it was not possible to even make your selection. Thankfully, I thought to open Safari and that got me quickly to Dan’s issue. Yet, some how Chris Pirillo (@ChrisPirillo) got through the process and confirmed his order.

Frantically, I kept acknowledging that I was an upgrade client after clicking the Continue button and the same page would return over and over. Tong commented on twitter, “This is a HORRIBLE experience, site wouldn’t work. The App got to the checkout phase and then hangs, and says “We’ll be back soon”" Frakes almost made it further but got, “”Your request couldn’t be processed.” Nooooooooooo”. He thought out loud, “I’m imagining a few people at the server farm saying, “Let’s just turn on one server at first, just to screw with them,” as we all in our virtual line continued through the frustrating process of trying to get the order to happen. Tong wrote what we were all thinking, “What a tease when you get to the FINAL “Check Out” screen, and then it says try again…and it never gets past it…”

Interesting enough, Verizon users were off in bed sleeping and having sweet dreams of a new iPhone 4S in the mail as they had no issue with their orders. @pdgill teased, “@danfrakes Verizon’s new tag line: Switch to us for the convenience of preorders!”

Comments in the iPhone 4S virtual line were humorous and it’s all that kept most of us going. @MacfusionGirl encouraged the twitter line, “This is the best iPhone line I’ve been in. You guys don’t smell. You’re not annoying, loud or stepping on my feet :) ”, even though it was nearly 2:00 am and most of us hadn’t showered since the day before.

Sadly, agony mounted as the morning wore on and Frakes noted, “Please wait while we pretend to process your request, raising your hopes a bit, then kick you out mercilessly.” I received the error, “We are temporarily unable to take iPhone orders. We apologize for this inconvenience. Please try again later.” Frakes blamed all of us stating that we had broke it.

Looking for other ways to pre-order, I grabbed my iPhone and opened the App Store app. I made it much further than I did on my Mac Pro; however, I still received an error message at the final screen. “Drat!” I yelled at 2:15 in the morning. Then, in a ray of hope, I searched the App Store for the illusive AT&T Upgrader that we had been hearing about all week. “Dude!”, it was there! I downloaded it, opened it after install, and walked through the steps. Amazingly it was quick and I had a new white iPhone 4S 32GB on the way!! It was only 2:30 am in morning.

As I looked one last time on twitter, I noted Frakes had made it through via the old-fashioned way on his desktop computer, tweeting, “OK, they must have turned on the other servers, because the site came back up and I completed the reservation in 30 seconds.”

After all that and a late night, I awoke early in the morning to find that my credit card had been denied! “You’ve got to be kidding?!” I mumbled to myself as I ran to my Mac to attempt a new order. Being a pro in navigating the Apple Store site, I was able to get through the upgrade pricing approval screen quiet quickly. Again, my card declined. Ugh! I used a second card and it thankfully it went through. Minutes later when I returned to the Apple Store site to verify my order, “We’ll be back soon” Post-It note had reappeared. I had just made it!

As to the failed card? Chase Fraud alert. I just got an automated call asking to authorize the denied charges hours later. Nice, Chase.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs began putting a dent in the Universe in 1976 when he and his friend released to the world the Apple I. A year later, they gave it a keyboard and case and called it the Apple II. Then came Lisa in 1983 which in itself spawned the cheaper and faster Macintosh in 1984. Anyone that could claim just these few accomplishments to their name would be satisfied but this was just the beginning for Steve Jobs.

Jobs was forced out of the company he co-founded by the man he won over from Pepsi to be Appe’s CEO by asking him if he wanted to sale sugar water or change the world. So Jobs left Apple and brought a few engineers with him and started NeXT computer. After the Macintosh and the once-in-a-lifetime game changing invention, Jobs did it again with the NeXT Workstation. While it wasn’t a huge hit, like the Lisa, its influence is what made it so great. From the worlds first web browser being invented on a NeXT to the operating system of today’s Macs and iPhones based on it, NeXT was an amazing accomplishment.

Then Jobs started down a new road, one of animation. Helping a friend out, Jobs purchased Pixar from Star Wars fortune George Lucas to help pay for his divorce settlement. Jobs got a bargain at a few million and turned it around into the most successful animated entertainment company of all time. From the Lifesavers commercial to Toy Story, Jobs took animation to infinity and beyond.

While Jobs was building a new empire with Pixar, Apple was struggling to stay alive. It begged him to return and he agreed to help the ailing company he co-founded and even branded himself the iCEO. i for interim. The little i also appeared on his first success back to Apple with the iMac. i for Internet. Not only could it connect to the Internet easily, a service in its infancy, but one could also see through its exterior case. It came in lime and berry colors as well as orange. It was also the first computer to have a USB port. Yes, in 1998, Steve Jobs introduced yet another massive hit.

The Internet not only popularized the way people did things but also how people heard things. Napster and the MP3 began a new revolution that filled up hard drives with compress music quicker than a Beatles hit airing on an AM radio for the first time in 1964. Steve Jobs didn’t sit and wait for others to figure out solid state memory and taxing interfaces were not the way to put music into peoples pockets. No, in 2001, he marveled the world with the iPod. Sure, Creative had a hard drive digital music player but it didn’t have the iPods ease of use. The iPod was an instant hit and put white ear buds into millions of peoples heads.

Two years later, Jobs changed the music industry, again, with an easy – and legal – way to get music onto your iPod. He brought all the major labels into a single place called iTunes Music Store. It would later drop the Music from its name as Jobs pulled in Hollywood and its popular TV shows and movies to round out the digital hub as Jobs refereed to iTunes a year later at Macworld. In only five years, iTunes became the largest music retailer in the US surpassing long time giant Wal-mart.

In January 2007, I had the honor to witness the unveiling of Steve Jobs’ greatest invention since the Macintosh. The iPhone. It was rumored for months and yet when he showed it off to the crowd of reporters at Moscone West, all we could do is keep gasping and applauding. It was magnificent and fixed everything RIM, Nokia, Motorola, and Microsoft never thought was even broken to begin with. Even the $600 price didn’t phase most of us. We were all floating. Of course, the iPhone changed the mobile phone industry forever.

Steve’s final dent came last year as he introduced the iPad. Apple wasn’t the first tablet maker, Bill Gates touted it nearly a decade earlier at CES, but rather Apple was the first to do it right. Explaining to the crowd, Jobs told reporters that the iPad went back as far as to the time of Gates’ announcement in 2001. Jobs illustrated that the technology just wasn’t ripe enough for the iPad. So, instead, Jobs took what they had and turned it into the iPhone. While first impressions from many was that the iPad was nothing more than an over-sized iPhone, in just a few short months, the iPad sold millions and began a new age which Jobs would later call the Post-PC era.

Now, we wrestle with the Post-Steve era and wonder what would have been in just a couple more years. Most likely, Steve had already began the next Big Thing and maybe even a few other of Jobs brilliant ideas are already being nurtured. The fact is, sadly, Steve Jobs was a genius and with his passing, so ends his amazing journey through technology.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Plain and simple, under the two buttons on Google’s homepage.

“I’m truly saddened to learn of Steve Jobs’ death. Melinda and I extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends, and to everyone Steve has touched through his work.

Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course of more than half our lives.

The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come.

For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.”

Goodbye, Steve, and Thank You

Author: Sven Rafferty
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011

There he was, on stage, taking a pot shot at the 4G competition and how the new iPhone 4S was just as fast on Internet speeds. Sadly, Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, lied to a crowd full of reporters who let Schiller’s claim go right over their heads.

The problem with Schiller’s claim is two-fold. First, the iPhone 4S will only take advantage of the faster HSDPA speeds on GSM/UMTS systems leaving two of the three US carriers out in the cold that use CDMA/EV-DO. Second, that third and only GSM carrier here in the States is AT&T. Remember them? Ya, the company that doesn’t invest in its network but rather changes texting plan prices and killing unlimited bandwidth to add to its coffers. Well, truth behold, AT&T has but a handful of locations in the entire United States that supports the 14.4 HSDPA download speeds. Surprise, surprise!

Do you think the senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing didn’t know this fact when he pronounced to the audience the iPhone 4S was just as fast as the Android competition on the chart of US models behind him on stage? No, he completely knew the truth. What Phil Schiller did was lie to the world that the iPhone 4S was just as fast as LTE equipped phones that have been widely available for nearly half a year here in the United States. While the rest of the world may benefit from the improved modem, basically no one in America will. Essentially, Schiller knew the iPhone 4S offered very little – if anything at all – over the faster Android phones and attempted to level the playing field. He did so like a seasoned politician.

Larger iPhone 5 Could be for Battery

Author: Sven Rafferty
Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Apple finally sent out the invites for it’s upcoming “Let’s talk iPhone” event. There is little doubt the next-generation iPhone will be the topic of this gala to be held at 1 Infinite Loops, Apple’s headquarters, in Cupertino, California. Most expect the A5 processor CPU, better camera, and graphic video improvements. Others feel LTE is a possibility of appearing in the next iPhone. Lately touted, Apple-purchase Siri speech-to-text technology called Assistant looks to be on the agenda as well. Still, some think the iPhone will be larger based on leaked photos of upcoming cases like the one pictured above with the current iPhone sitting inside the case with plenty of wiggle room.

First reports of the larger screen seemed to point to Apple responding to the larger Motorola and HTCs that hit Verizon stores in the last few months. In classic Apple style, it didn’t make it too large as to be obnoxious, was the reason. That may be true, but I started thinking about it and wondered why, if these pictures are to believed, would Apple make the next iPhone just a bit larger? It certainly wouldn’t be for the screen. The minor bump in size would be minimal and most likely even unnoticeable in real world use.

I looked at the picture of the case again and thought, “While that’s not much space at all, if you filled it up with something like lithium-ion, then that could be a LOT of space.” You know, the active component of a rechargeable battery? It makes perfect sense when you pop open an iPad and see the majority of it is a battery and because of that, iPads can run all day long without breaking a sweat. The iPhone has been plagued with weak battery life since its inception and while the iPhone 4 claims the best performance yet, I know many users who have said that their 3GS had better life! iFix-it and the likes found little difference in the iPhone 5s battery.

So, if Apple could make a larger footprint, just a wee bit larger, and use it all for a battery, it’s very possible to gain a substantial about of battery life. I could easily see a 50% increase over the iPhone 4 with the added room seen in the next-generation iPhone case. If components used internally shrink, such as memory, then that’s even more room. Moving things around to better pack the board would also give some net gains. Thus, it’s quiet possible we could hear Tim Cook tell us October 4th that the newest iPhone has double the batter life of its predecessor.

Of course, if the larger size is in fact a done deal, the growth could be for other things like an LTE radio, better antenna, or even more memory, though I doubt the latter. But, I really do think we could be finally getting a smartphone that lasts all day. Boy, I really hope so.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

There has been much talk of Steve Jobs failures since his resigning as CEO of the company he co-founded in 1976. The interesting thing about these lists, such as the one below in the cnet video, is the lack of one of Apple’s biggest flop to say the least since Steve officially dropped the i from iCEO in the late 90s. That flop? The Apple iPod Hi-Fi. You remember, the very speaker system for your iPod that replaced Steve Jobs entire high-end audio system at his Palo Alto home. His words, not mine.

Audiophiles around the globe immediately commented on the quality of this $350 white speaker box and the comments weren’t pretty. Muddy high frequencies were soaring on most lists while the lack of an AM/FM radio found its way on others. The placement of the iPod, on the top of the Hi-Fi itself, was another criticism due to the expensive media player being susceptible to damage due to lack of protection that seemingly begged to be hit by a passing object. The inability to use anything but an iPod, and only the older ones on top of that, was another gripe from the masses.

What most likely killed Steve Jobs home stereo replacement, the iPod Hi-Fi, was its price. For less money, one could pickup a quality speaker from either Bose or Altec Lansing for example. Competing brands also offered auxiliary inputs as well as other features lacking in Steve’s beloved white box.

For me, when I first saw the iPod Hi-Fi and it’s associated price, I laughed (yes, a true LOL!) and figured it would quietly disappear soon after introduction. It didn’t take long for that to happen. Just a little over a year after its May introduction in 2006, Apple discontinued the iPod HI-Fi in late 2007 without apology. No one’s sure if Steve eventually put his home audio system back into his AV rack but chances are good he did.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Have you been itching to plug something into your Thunderbolt port besides a display? Something you can suck some data out at a blistering 10Gb/s? Videographer, rejoice, LaCie has officially released its Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series today and packs some power in a lightweight package. Perfect for those editing video on the go or on-set, the LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt HDD will give you all the speed and storage you need. Additionally, LaCie announced that it will ship the super fast SSD version in October.

No pricing was issued in its press release, shown below, but you can be ready for a spanking at the register for sure. Amateur need not apply. :)

View Press Release »

Today LaCie announced the Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series is now available for purchase. It is the first portable solution to feature the shocking 10Gb/s speeds of Thunderbolt technology. This next-generation Little Big Disk is the first product in LaCie’s series of high-end Thunderbolt solutions.

Designed for the most demanding applications, the LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series will bring a new level of performance to creative workflows and professional storage users. It offers ultra-fast data transfers, complete system backup in minutes, and faster content editing than ever before.

“Performance can come in small packages,” says Jason Ziller, Intel’s director of Thunderbolt Marketing. “LaCie’s Little Big Disk with Intel’s Thunderbolt™ technology delivers blazingly fast transfer speeds in a truly portable form factor; we think media creators and entertainment enthusiasts alike are going to love it.”

The LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series sets the new standard for the storage industry. Featuring a pair of 2.5″ drives in a Mac OS RAID configuration, the Little Big Disk delivers stunning read speeds more than 480MB/s in SSD and up to 190MB/s in HDD.

The more Little Big Disks you chain together, the more impressive the performance. Users can daisy chain several Little Big Disks to maximize the interface’s capabilities and reach transfer rates around 800MB/s – truly rackmount storage speeds in a portable solution.

A game changer for content creators and professional users, the Little Big Disk is the ultimate portable solution for fast access to data or on-set editing. It supports multiple RAID levels (0,1 and JBOD) and daisy chaining for storage expansion or connecting other peripherals. Additionally, it features a heat sink casing and quiet fan for dual cooling.

“The great thing about the LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series is its versatility,” said Erwan Girard, Professional Business Unit Manager, LaCie. “No matter which Little Big Disk model you choose, it will serve your most demanding applications with ease and portability. It’s the ultimate in storage technology.”

For more than 20 years, LaCie has worked in the Apple™ marketplace, introducing innovative products and launching cutting-edge technologies. LaCie developed the first Apple branded storage solution and showcased the first implementations of FireWire technology. Since then, LaCie has collaborated with Intel™ and Apple to develop a range of professional storage solutions featuring Thunderbolt technology.

The LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series HDD models are available through Apple retail stores worldwide and The SSD model will be shipping this October. All models will be available shortly through LaCie’s reseller channel and The Thunderbolt cable can be purchased separately on For full specifications and product information on the LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series visit:

Be one of the first to enjoy the next generation of high-speed storage – the LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series. One winner will be selected each Thursday for the next four weeks. For additional details and to enter now visit

With operations in the Americas, Europe and Asia, LaCie is a leading manufacturer of storage devices for PC, Apple, and Linux. LaCie has differentiated itself through sleek design and remarkable technical performance. Find out more about our products at