Savings on the Go!!!

As the economy begins its recovery, many of us are looking for ways to save a few bucks.  The other day, while shopping with my daughter at the mall, I saved over $20, just by using the very device that is by my side everywhere I go – my mobile phone. 

Remember the days when you had tons of coupons from mailers, newspapers etc and you forgot them at home?  Now all you need to do is turn on your mobile device, download one or many of the apps below and start searching for coupons, while you’re in the store!  No printing is usually required and many of the sales associates are aware of this common practice, which requires you to simply show the coupon on your phone. 

Here are some of the apps I would recommend (all of which were free in the Android Marketplace – other App Worlds/Stores might charge a fee, but these apps will pay for themselves):

GeoQpons

This app can be used along with your GPS to figure out where you are and what stores are in the vicinity.  If your store doesn’t show up or GPS is off, you can do a search for the store.  If a coupon exist, it will likely be on this application.  The app also has some nice additional features, including a Shopping list, a Wish List, Savings Calculator and Barcode integration to check pricing.

  

Coupons

Similar to GeoQpons, Coupons will also use GPS to figure out your location, if turned on.  Coupons also provides discounts that can be used right from the phone, but also shows discounts that can be obtained via e-mail sign-up.  Coupons main page provides the average gas price in your area, making you want to use the coupons provided, even more…

  

AAA Discounts

 

If you are a AAA member, you can get this app and it will provide all the AAA discounts offered in your area.  I didn’t know this, but apparently, New York and Company offers a discount for AAA members (don’t hold me to it, I am only going by what the app tells me).  You can also put your AAA membership number in the app, so if you need assistance, you can call right from the app and they will know your location.

 

Entertainment App

Do you have one of those Entertainment books and always forget the book when you are out?  Well, the app cannot act as a replacement for coupons in the book (it will tell you that there is a coupon for the store, but direct you to your book), but it can help for coupons that don’t require the book itself.  In addition, if you are in a store and you see there is a coupon, it will at least make you aware and you have the ability to save the offer, so you remember to clip the coupon (I am not sure about you, but I get overwhelmed whenever I start looking through the book itself).  What I have also found helpful, is letting the app find my location, so I can note all the coupons in my area.  I then go and save these under saved offers, so I know to clip, when I go to those retailers.  Membership number can be put right in the app, to validate you are a member.   

 

Foursquare

I reviewed this app awhile back and a lot more has been done to it since that time.  I will not go into a lot of details on the app itself other than to say there are some nice deals that can come out of Foursquare.  For example, I was once the mayor of Sports Authority in my area.  As a result, I received 10% off my purchase, any time I walked into that store!  There is also a coupon for a free Chips and Dip any time you go into a Chilis.  Some might think Foursquare is just a gimmick to check into places and let your friends know where you are, but as I wrote in my review, there are many practical uses – like saving money!!!

While there are probably many other apps out there, these are some of the ones I have found most helpful.  Even if you can save a little along the way, it can make a big difference in the end.  Happy savings!

Advertisements

iPad 2 is Bleeding Conspiracy!

The iPad 2 has been out for less than a week now and it seems a potentially major problem has been discovered.  Many people are reporting that their iPad is experiencing “screen bleed”.   I’m not going to go into the details of screen bleed.  If you are interested, please check out this link to Gizmodo – they do a great job explaining and showing you the actual problem – http://gizmodo.com/#!5781452/the-ipad-2-is-bleeding.

The point of this post is my new conspiracy theory, which plays nicely into my previous post, where I believe an iPad 2.5 will be released this September.  If you note, one of the things I predicted that would be part of the September model was…wait for it…a new retina display!  Well, look at what we already have here with the iPad 2 – a bad display!  Wonder how widespread this issue is?  Was it just a bad batch?  Is the screen incompatible with the new chip?  Probably a long shot, but a nice transition in for Apple to say, well, we do have a minor screen problem and to mitigate the risk of it continuing to happen in the future, we have upgraded to a better improved screen! 

So what do you think now – iPad 2.5, coming this Fall, to an Apple store near you?

iPad 2 – What’s the Plan?

 Verizon, AT&T and Apple are all set to start selling iPad 2 devices tomorrow, beginning at 5pm EST. 

If you were considering getting a Verizon ready iPad, here are the plans that will be offered:

  • 1GB per month – $20
  • 3GB per month – $35
  • 5GB per month – $50
  • 10GB per month – $80

If anyone has a data plan on their smartphone and utilizes the hotspot feature for an extra $20 a month, you might start reading between the lines on these plans.  For $20 a month, I can use my smartphone as a mobile hotspot and have my iPad hooked up to the Internet via the phone.  While it drains the battery a bit, it is a lot cheaper at $20/2GB, then the plans above.  It makes me wonder what Verizon has in store for the mobile hotspot plans.  We already know the unlimited plans on the phones are going away…I have a feeling the $20/2GB hotspot/tether plans will change in the near future too, to look more like the plans above. 

If you are an AT&T user, the plans offered, will look these below:

  • $14.99/250 MB per month
  • $25/2GB per month

Overage on the plans varies based on the carrier and the specific plan.  See carrier for details.

The Future of Mobility

The announcement of the iPad 2 kindled (not the Amazon one) something inside of me this week.  I have provided a few angles on the new iPad, but wanted to close out the week looking at how I view the future of the mobile market. 

Undoubtably, mobile devices have finally taken off and are becoming more mainstream.  What was once seen as a techy item, is being used by professors, business people, mothers, students, and even Grandma and Grandpa Joe. 

The evolution of the smartphone has taken a turn.  What was once a push for smaller is better has turned to a balance between functionality and size.  With the smartphone becoming more functional, allowing users to surf the web and watch movies etc, consumers started seeing the benefit to larger screens.   What we are seeing now is the advent of larger screen smartphones and tablets to satisfy the increased functionality.  A new strike between functionality and convenience.  

So what does the longer term future look like for smartphones and tablets.  Who will be the front-runner, and what will they need to do to stay on top.  Obviously, Apple is seen as the leader at this time, but can Android or even Blackberry catch up?  Keep in mind, when I present these questions, I am writing with regards to the US market.  The addition of the International markets would change everything and add some more players. 

Right now, I see the major US players in the mobile space as:

  • Apple
  • Google – Android
  • Blackberry
  • Microsoft

What do each of these players have to do, in order to stay competitive?  Well, for starters they need to continue to innovate and improve on their products, while keeping their costs down.  This is a given for all of the players above. 

Let’s look at the specifics for each player:

Apple

  • They need to open up.  They are too stuck on a proprietary mindset and this already got them in trouble in the 80s.  Add a USB port to the iPad, allow an SD port, let me see my files and folders and transfer stuff without using iTunes.
  • More product lines – the one reason the Android devices have better specs is because Apple only provides product upgrades once a year.  You want the next best iPhone, it could take 1-2 years.  With the Android, HTC is coming out with one phone, while Motorola is already working on the next best thing.  This keeps the product line fresh. 
  • Realize Google is for real.  I know no one has been able to touch the iPod, but Google has a good chance to make a run at Apple with phones and tablets.  According to Steve Jobs at the iPad 2 unveiling, iPad is 90% of the market today, but keep approaching it from a standpoint that no one can beat you and someone will…especially when it’s Google in the rearview mirror.

Google

  • Push to become more mainstream and less techy.  Nothing wrong with techy people, I could be considered one of them, but a phone branded as “techy” for some is an automatic classification of “scary” for others.   Start marketing campaigns branding your products towards less tech oriented market segments.
  • Improve your security model.  This might be a difficult one since Google’s model relies on openness.  Education might be the best practice here or having a security program pre-installed might help reduce the risk. 
  • Lower your price points of your higher end products.  The Motorola Xoom was deemed the iPad killer.  I must admit, it looks pretty nice, but the price point is too high.  $600+ and I have to sign a contract with Verizon?  Apparently, a cheaper model in the $500 range will be released at Sam’s Club with only Wi-Fi, but when there are cheaper iPad options, who do you think will get the majority of the market?  Android is in the position where it need to impress and get itself out there, not price itself out of the market.  Think of Vizio TVs – they were high quality and in a lot of cases a better product, but the main way they got out there in the market and proved themselves was on price. 

Blackberry

  • Stick with what you are good at and appease your main market.  Blackberry is still alive because of the security and their seamless Enterprise integration.  Businesses that require tight controls, especially government related, will turn to the Blackberry.  For Apple and Android, they are out to appease the average consumer right now with new and innovative things.  Their models aren’t tied around security and in some cases, like I mentioned with the Android,  harbor less security.  For Blackberry, they are seen as lacking in innovation, but sometimes boring means stability and security. 
  • Don’t lose complete sight of innovation. 

Microsoft

I only mention them because I am sure they will make some kind of run in the mobile space, but they have a lot of catching up to do.  So did Apple in the 90s…

What about tablets?  Are they the future or a fad?  I think they can be the future, but they can fizzle out if not marketed properly.  The main way to keep the tablet heartbeat alive is to get it into the workforce; Seamless integration within the Enterprise.   This is key!

I have had my iPad for two weeks now and I love it.  I am also starting to realize everything I do on it, I can do somewhere else and better.  For example, it acts as an e-reader, but so does my Kindle and the books on my bookshelf.  It plays Netflixs, but so does my 65 inch TV.   It acts as a computer, but my netbook definitely is my device of choice when working or writing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPad, but others might come to realize, they don’t really need it. 

If the tablet can get itself into the Enterprise workforce, it can prove that it is more than just a cool gadget.  I think this is achievable and already in the works in many places.  During the iPad 2 announcement, there were many examples of different professions using the iPad.  And now with the camera, the options are even greater.  Remember when we use to watch sci-fi shows with workers communicating with each other via tablets – can you say Facetime on the iPad!  The industry must continue to come up with more practical uses of tablets; otherwise, people are going to realize their smartphone does enough for them on the go.  If I had to bet on tablets continuing to be a future game changer, I would probably take the bet.

Apple’s original iPad now selling @ $100 discount

If you head over to the Apple store, you will notice that the first generation iPads are selling for as low as $399.  That would explain where that $399 rumored price point came from to compete with the lower end Android tablets.  If your in the market for an iPad and don’t care about the new iPad 2 features, here is your chance.  The link to the Apple Store  is provided below:

http://store.apple.com/us/product/MB292LL/A?mco=MTcyMTg1MDA

iPad 2 announced, as expected…but are these the iPads you were looking for?

Well, it is official, the iPad 2 is coming to an Apple store near you, next Friday, March 11th. It’s funny how secretive Apple is about its products, yet when they are announced, there is almost little surprise to what is announced! In this case, what was pretty much expected of the iPad 2 has been confirmed. Here are the key upgrades in a nutshell:

  • Faster A5 Processor – 2x faster and 9x faster graphics;
  • Front and rear facing camera (and a gyroscope);
  • 1/3 thinner than original iPad;
  • Verizon and ATT capable;
  • Comes in black and white;
  • New cool accessories, including a magnetic screen case and 1080p cable adapter;
  • Price points remain the same along with the memory options – 16gb, WiFi only, $499 starting point.

So, what does this all equate to in the end. If you don’t have an iPad, and you waited anxiously because the first one had some obvious shortcomings, congratulations, you did it…you made it! Go out and reserve one now (they are going to initially be in short supply based on production numbers). If you already have the first generation iPad, I would recommend you wait unless you really, really want a camera, or you need to upgrade your memory, 3G card etc. If you are looking for a reason to just throw $500-$800 more out the window, just so you can say you have the latest and greatest, I would say wait for the iPad 3 because I have a feeling that one will be worth the wait for everyone.

iPad 2 – Game Changer or Bridge Builder?

It is the eve of the iPad 2 announcement.  Tomorrow, Apple is set to unveil the next generation tablet.  When the iPad was originally announced last Spring there were a few things I immediately did not like about it, which prevented me from taking the plunge and purchasing the attractive device.  For starters, there was no camera.  How can you have a tablet with such potential and not include a camera?  Other areas I was not impressed with included lack of memory and a USB port.  As hard as it was, I made it a point to wait for Apple to make its next inevitable move, which would be to offer a second generation product, much improved and at a lower cost. 

So here I sit, the eve of  the iPad 2 announcement and surprisingly, I can say, I will not be in the running to purchase one.  There are a few reasons, which have led me to believe this is not the time to pull the trigger on the new iPad.  Most importantly, I won a first generation iPad!  Now, you might be saying to yourself, of course you’re not getting an iPad 2,  if you already won an original iPad, but consider my options.  I certainly had the opportunity to sell my winning iPad, bank the money and wait for the iPad 2, knowing it was going to be announced in a few weeks.  But that wasn’t even a serious consideration.  You see, there is something more going on here.  I read an article on another blog that pointed to a little conspiracy theory and after reading some other sites and digesting the information, I also have a gut feeling Apple is up to something more in the coming months. 

For starters, let’s look at what people are speculating will be improved with the iPad 2:

  • Rear and front facing cameras –  if this is not included, I would suggest everyone dump their Apple stock now;
  • Quicker Processor and more RAM – I believe it;
  • Thinner device – of course this is going to happen – you already invested in a case(s) for the first one, so now you will need to get a whole new slew of case(s)…someone has to keep the case companies in business;
  • More Memory – maybe this will happen;
  • Verizon and AT&T compatible for 3G ready devices – absolutely;
  • USB port – keep praying;
  • Better resolution – maybe, but not the Retina display like the iPhone…not yet;
  • Better speaker – likely;
  • improved iOS – it’s coming and will likely be announced tomorrow for all devices, but won’t ship with the iPad 2;
  • Lower price points, with starting price at $300 – been there, done that with the iPod Classic – this is likely, although I could see $449 as the starting price. 

Overall, even if everything listed above was to occur, which it won’t, Apple still is in a position where the tablet competition is getting hot and heavy and they need to make a big move with a new and much more innovative iPad.  I believe that iPad is out there and being worked on, but it is not the iPad 2.  The iPad 2 to me sounds more like bridge work to the real next generation iPad 3!  The iPad 2 sounds like a device that will target people who were on the fence and needed that extra push, like me (of course, prior to winning my original iPad).  At this point, I rather take my first generation iPad and ride it out until the iPad 3 is released. 

This takes me to a conspiracy theory I read on another Apple blog, Macrumor.com.  Apple’s release cycle for the iPods is in September.  It has been rumored that they might want to put the iPad on the same release schedule as the iPods.  The thought is Apple will release a quick fix iPad this March and then follow-up with the true next generation iPad 3 in September, when the other iPod devices are released.  Take into account that Apple has already said the iPad 2 will be in short supply at lauch due to “processing” delays, this fits into the conspiracy theory very nicely.  Why produce millions and millions of iPad 2s, knowing another device is on the horizon?  Especially when you know it won’t be improved enough to make people want to upgrade from the $500-$800 device they bought just last Spring. 

Whatever the case, the conspiracy theory is just that – a theory and the iPad 2 details haven’t even been released yet.  There could be no truth to the theory at all and the iPad 2 could have a feature that allows it to do your laundry, clean dishes and vacuum the house.  That would be an innovative game changer to say the least.   

I look forward to what Apple has in store for us tomorrow.

More clues that pair Verizon with Apple?

So it is no secret that I believe the iPhone is coming to Verizon by the first quarter of 2011.  I have referenced the large order of CDMA equipment by Apple and a “gut” feeling, but now I think there are some more clues that can help my claim.  According to the Boy Genius Report (http://www.bgr.com/), the following has been reported:

  • There are now rumors that a second generation iPad will be released by early quarter 2011.  Again, another prediction of mine, although I thought it would be closer to Q2 2011.  While many are saying this iPad will be equipped with the forward facing and traditional cameras, what better time to introduce your CDMA Verizon version of the iPad.
  • Windows 7 phones, set to release later this year are not going to be released at launch on Verizon’s network.  Why would you want to deal with a whole other headache (Microsoft phones), when you know you already have a juggernaut on the way!  Verizon claims they will eventually get the Win 7 phones, which I believe, but this is not the right time. 
  • LTE is coming this fall.  The LTE network, also known as the 4G network is the upgrade to the current 3G network, which Verizon Smartphones are utilizing.  Without going into any details, 4G is suppose to be a major upgrade to the 3G network.  Given I think the iPhone will be a 4G phone (and best used on a 4G network), the timing makes complete sense.  Activate the new network later this year, work out any kinks and be ready for the iPhone mega release!

Apple’s Fall Event – New Products Announced!

Apple just finished their Fall Event, which included Steve Jobs going over some of the new cool Apple products, soon to be released.

I was impressed with the new iOS 4.1 and 4.2:

The 4.1 upgrade will be available this week for current iPhone and iPod users and includes; High Dynamic Range photos, HD video uploads over WiFi, TV show rentals, and a Game Center.

The 4.2 will be available in November to iPad, iPhone and iPod users.  The main upgrades included are wireless printing, and something called Airplay, where you can stream video and music over the web – can you say less storage issues!

The new line of iPods was refreshing.  They really revamped them this year:

Shuffle – smaller and the buttons are back!
Nano – smaller and nice little touch screen.
iPod Touch – pretty much a iPhone with no Phone.  It now has front and rear facing cameras. 

The new iTunes 10 was interesting.  It will include a social network feature called Ping, which I am curious to see how it takes off.  Everyone wants to be Facebook these days…

Apple TV – I was never sold on this product.  Apple’s niche is innovative mobile products, and the Apple TV is not really mobile, since the whole point is to be able to watch HD programming on a TV.  With that said, when I thought about it, I realized it is mobile because it is so small you could take it on vacation and use it on any TV.  Plus, at a price point of $99, this is much more reasonable and competitively positioned then at $229.  I don’t think it will be a very popular Apple product, compared to the others, but there is now some hope.

Sorry, no 2nd generation iPad or Verizon iPhone, but no one was really expecting that today. 

I will try to post more thoughs and photos, as I have the opportunity.   

iPhone to Verizon – A Blue’s Clue!

If you haven’t heard yet, there are rumors that Apple has ordered “hoards”, yes that is right – “Hoards!!” of CDMA chipsets from Qualcomm. If you read my early posts, you would know that Qualcomm is the company that developed the CDMA network and is what the Verizon network utilizes to provide its mobile services (Sprint does as well, but would they order “Hoards” of chipsets? I think not)

Anyway, in addition to this news, what is not as well known yet (although it’s becoming more wide spread, like the Easter Bunny getting laid off this past April – you didn’t know?) is a statement referenced in a recent AT&T SEC filing. It read:

In addition, offering a number of attractive handsets on an exclusive basis distinguishes us from our competitors. As these exclusivity arrangements end, we expect to continue to offer such handsets (based on historical industry practice), and we believe our service plan offerings will help to retain our customers by providing incentives not to move to a new carrier.

Wait, what did you say AT&T??? As these exclusivity arrangements end… So how many arrangements do you think they have right now? The only one I know of is the one for the iPhone. Yes, we pretty much had an idea it ended this year, but there were rumors it would be extended or was not ending. Now it seems to just about be confirmed that it will end, opening the playing field to other providers.

So when is the iPhone coming to Verizon? As I have been preaching, I would target a date around early January of next year, with an announcement not coming until next year, as to not disrupt the Christmas shopping season. Many might argue pre-holiday season would be ideal, but in this case I think it would only be a bad publicity stunt. Verizon would cause mass demand on their network and on the iPhone itself, plus cannibalize Android sales. The iPad could also suffer, with people like myself waiting to see if it would be coming on the Verizon network and holding off on a current model that is on AT&T (possibly upsetting Apple – I’m sure Verizon doesn’t care much about what AT&T thinks on this topic). Again, just my thoughts, and nothing factual.