Archive for October, 2011

Once again, Apple has blown away my expectations with the iPhone 4S and to be honest it’s my first iPhone.  I own all other Apple products including Apple TV, iPad, MacBook Pro, iMac and a variety of ipods but the iPhone 4s is my favorite.

I waiting years for my carrier to get the iPhone and it just wouldn’t happen so I finally broke down and switched to Sprint after 15 years of loyalty with another carrier.

My favorite feature is Siri although she’s a bit of a cultural maroon unable to understand anything but the most common English names.  If you have friends or associates with names in Spanish, Indian, Arabic, Chinese or any other language don’t expect Siri to understand them!

 

So my kids have been begging me for the new iPhone 4S and I explain that these phones are expensive with expensive service plans but they still want one.  I finally broke down and said I would get them iPhones if they were willing to trade in AT&T Uverse television in return.   The costs are somewhat comparable and this is a great exercise in making tough choices between things they want.

Much to my surprise, the kids agreed to give up TV for the iPhones so this weekend we went over to the Sprint store and ordered 4 new 32gb iPhones at a cost of $1200 + tax and a service plan around $230 per month!    Since this is a two year deal we’re looking at a total cost of $6,720 and I opted for Sprint because I did not want to get tagged with excessive data, texts or other shenanigans AT&T and Verizon have on their plans.

I know that this appears to be a great deal of money to many and it is but I have full rationalization for it.   Here are m top reasons and justifications:

1. Everyone knows the world and commerce is globalized but few see the mobility aspect.   The world economy is increasingly demanding workers be mobile.  I’ve logged 60,000 miles this year alone and many of my peers are going overseas for work these days.   Having an iPhone and its wondrous capabilities is a must and I want my kids to get a head start in that world.

2. “Find My iPhone” is a neat little feature that allows you to track your iPhone, it so happens that it will allow my wife and I to track our kids.  The safety and security this feature brings is worth cost alone but it is an added plus.

3. The iPhone isn’t just a phone, it’s a fully functional computer with thousands of apps that are beneficial to have to help educate, entertain and enhance human existence.

4. The iPhone will actually save me money in avoiding the purchase of alternative devices.  I’ve written about how the iPad has replaced dozens of physical devices in my home and the iPhone will do the same and by consolidating everything into one device, I will avoid having to buy things like Nintendo DS consoles, iPods, and even a cash register!

5.  By having a standard device between all family members, we should be able to stay in sync and communicate more efficiently and support will be the same.  Right now, we have blackberry, motorola, android/samsung chargers and cables (all incompatible) lying around the house.   We’ll leverage the single iPhone interface when we travel to charge phones and sync with computers!

So the only thing left to do now is turn off AT&T uverse which I will do after the Christmas holiday and keep it off for two years.   I guess for Christmas I’ll be asking for off-air antennae to plug into my $3000 LED TVs in the house!

I must admit, I rarely watch TV anymore and when I do it’s usually something on Netflix or Amazon Streaming and my iPad has apps for both of those things.TV manufacturers are missing the boat, instead of building in a bunch of features like NetFlix into the TV, they should build wireless streaming interfaces from mobile devices like iPhones so I can stream whatever is pulling down my phone onto the TV.

Finally, I’ll say that the Sprint store I visited was pretty full and they were sold out of almost all iPhones.   They had one 32gb iPhone left but it was black and we all wanted white ones.  I think this may bode well for Sprint and since their stock is in the gutter it may be a worthwhile investment.

 

I’m now about 5 or 7 classes away from finishing either one or two MBA programs at my university.  It’s been a long road and the days just fly by but I get to learn something new every day from my peers.   I recently learned through a discussion in a marketing class that many students are or have cancelled their cable TV subscriptions and switched to things like NetFlix, Hulu, Amazon Streaming, iTunes or other services.

I guess this is why cable operators are now scrambling trying to offer al-la-carte TV channels after decades of fighting it.

Cable operators are privately working on a plan to force programmers to unbundle their networks and allow customers to subscribe to channels on an individual basis.

As consumers,

  • We used to buy whole albums and now with iTunes we simply buy the songs we like.
  • We used to have to take whatever bad food airlines served but now they offer a-la-carte menu items.
  • We used to be stuck with book publishing cartels and retail book outlets but we can now download books al-la-carte.

The days of mass subsidization seem to be coming to an end.   I never liked the idea of paying to subsidize hundreds of channels I never watched (20+ cartoon/Disney channels, 40+ ESPN/sports channels, Opra Network).   Seriously, how much TV do cable operators think we can watch and subsidize?   At some point, something had to give and here we are, that day has come.    The next evolution will certainly be around health insurance with a whopping average charge of $15,000 per year for health insurance, it isn’t sustainable by businesses nor consumers.

The 2010’s will be known as the al-la-carte generation and hopefully it will engulf education, health care, and government institutions because they are no longer sustainable in their present forms.

 

So we went to prep school fair this past weekend and ran into quite a few prep schools based mostly in the north east like Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, a few in the south and a couple in the west.

The few schools my oldest was interested including one in Hawaii (Hawaii Prep Academy) and one in Massachusetts (Tabor Academy).   The costs of these schools runs anywhere from $20k to $45k per year.   The basic next step is to get my son enrolled in a summer program for one of the schools and see if he truly enjoys it before making a huge commitment.    Since I’m an avid traveler, I gravitated toward schools like Lowell Whiteman but that was just me…

It’s an exciting time for my son as he comes of age and begins a journey of self discovery but the road will be long and costly.   Fortunately, it’ll be a couple of years before a full commitment but it is amazing at how fast the time has flown by as I still remember my son as a little baby.   The fall back plan is to go to a local private school and keep him at home which he’ll love as well.

The obvious question here though is if these kinds of costs are worth the value of the education.   What I see critically missing from most of these curriculum are practical business, engineering or scientific training.   Perhaps I’m asking too much but I expect graduates to be able to start a business or enter an engineering program practically certified as an engineer for this kind of money.

There is an interesting prediction that education is in in  massive bubble and it’s only a matter of time before it collapses in on itself.  This may be particularly true for college but I’m not so sure about the prep schools.  Only time will tell.