The Phone That Wasn't There
Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on March 28, 2007
With a general dearth of exciting new products to talk about at the CTIA Wireless show, much of the buzz in Orlando concerned the product that isn’t here—Apple’s forthcoming iPhone. And of course, with no one having had more than, at best, a quick glimpse at an iPhone prototype in January, the phone is still in that magical space where it could be and do anything.
It’s mere announcement is already having real effects at the show. Most notable, Sprint Nextel has cut the price of music downloads for a new Samsung phone in half to match iTunes’ 99 cents. AT&T’s Cingular got bragging rights by announcing that a million prospective customers have registered interest on the company’s Web site to get more information about the iPhone. And executives of carriers and handset makers fretted about what iPhone will do to their business.
Perhaps the most interesting new product actually present in Orlando is Verizon’s new live video broadcast service. Verizon has “soft launched” the $15 a month service in 25 markets, meaning it is available but not publicized or marketed yet. Two phones, the Samsung U620 and the LG VX9400 can receive eight channels of broadcast television delivered by Qualcomm’s MediaFLO service. I spent a bit of time playing with the LG version. Picture and audio quality was impressive—much better than Verizon’s over-the-network Vcast service, but the limited channel selection and lack of on-demand programming makes me wonder how popular it will be. I’ll be doing a full review when the service matures a little more.