Cingular’s Treo 750, Blackjack and 8525 get WM6 treatment

We had a chance to peep an “eyes-only” presentation from AT&T with the dirty details on WM6 for current and future devices, with the newly-branded Cingular apparently poised to introduce patches for three of its hottest handsets. The word is that the Treo 750, 8525, and the Blackjack will see downloadable updates released for current owners, and that WM6 will be pre-installed on all devices launched in 2007. In a separate tip, our peeps tell us that the Blackjack update should be in Cingular’s hot hands by May 26; with an expected eight week soak period for testing, this could hit by late July this year. We suppose that if the ROMs prove bulletproof, the cheering masses could theoretically get this update sooner, but until then we can only sit and wait. No word on timing for the other two devices, but we are seriously hoping that Blue has its ducks in a row and that they are on an similar schedule.

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Samsung issues BlackJack ROM update, sensibility surrenders

Just so we don’t get your hopes up: no, it isn’t a Windows Mobile 6 update, but Samsung has found it within themselves to issue a ROM update for the Cingular BlackJack (Samsung i607) Windows Mobile 5 phone. However, unless you’re having issues with roaming, especially internationally, there isn’t much else to this update besides some new icons for some apps that come bundled with the phone.

Speaking of something to not get excited about though, check out Samsung’s update process. We haven’t seen this many steps for updating a device’s software since… well, probably ever. The update process requires a functioning ActiveSync connection to work, and we haven’t even tried this through alternative syncing systems like Missing Sync for the Mac yet, but venturous updaters be warned: this update completely erases your BlackJack, resetting it to a factory default software state.

That said, go forth and update ye old BlackJacks, especially if roaming has given you more than one headache since the phone debuted last November.

Who won’t be getting the iPhone?

To find out that the Apple iPhone (heard of it?) would roll out locked to Cingular on a multi-year exclusivity agreement was difficult enough for some folks to swallow. Imagine, then, the pain and suffering that’ll be experienced by those in areas that Cingular has forsaken. Case in point: the Burlington Free Press has noted that Cingular offers not a sliver of coverage in the quaint state of Vermont, leaving well over half a million good citizens (Ben and Jerry included, we reckon) without their fix. While our initial instinct might be to buy the phone elsewhere and just roam ’til the cows come home (literally — this is Vermont, after all), Cingular policy states that a customer’s address must lie in a directly covered area — and even for the few that manage to skate by that one, the carrier’s known for canceling accounts that roam excessively. Of course, Cingular points out that eager buyers are more than welcome to buy it contract-free without activating an account, but there’s not a lot of fun in that; meanwhile, Apple’s staying mum on the subject, perhaps for fear of further agitating hundreds of thousands of irate Vermonters. And the problem is by no means limited to Vermont: residents of large parts of Maine, Virginia, West Virginia, New Mexico, the Dakotas, Arizona, Montana, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and Colorado (among other states) might find that Apple has passed them over come June, unless Cingular goes into turbo mode lighting up new service areas. Anyone out there willing to move for a cellphone?

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AT&T to phase out Cingular brand

AT&T will begin to extinguish next week the brand of cell phone operator Cingular, built up with billions of dollars over a few years, to imprint its more-than-century-old name firmly across its services.

AT&T, which took full control of No. 1 U.S. mobile carrier Cingular with its $86 billion purchase of BellSouth last month, will launch on Monday a campaign to mark the change.

“We did not enter that decision lightly,” Wendy Clark, vice president of advertising at AT&T, said in an interview. “We came to understand that consumer customers and business customers alike are looking for a single provider. We heard it so consistently across the marketplace.”

In its first stage, Cingular will share its orange logo of a bouncing jack with the AT&T globe logo on everything from television ads to sales uniforms and monthly bills.

AT&T ‘s name and logo will eventually replace Cingular in a process expected to take several months, with the exact timing determined as more customer feedback comes in, Clark said.

But with its long and complicated history, AT&T may face customer confusion over its name, marketing experts said. Also, Cingular built up a reputation among younger customers who may not easily associate with the AT&T brand.

At stake are AT&T ‘s efforts to promote its bundle of phone, Internet and video services against a growing number of rivals, including cable operators and Web providers.

One new ad will portray a familiar Cingular image–grain harvesters mowing a field to represent “bars” showing maximum cell phone reception. But in a new take, the harversters will change direction and mow the AT&T globe out of the stalks.

“It’s a tough proposition,” said Hayes Roth, chief marketing officer at brand agency Landor Associates. “Multiple brands within any company is expensive. Arguably they don’t have much choice, they’ve made a stand now that they’ve invested back in the core brand.”

Cingular spent nearly $1 billion on media advertising in the first nine months of 2006, up from about $920 million in the same period during 2005, according to the latest data from tracking firm TNS Media Intelligence.

For the remainder of their businesses, AT&T spent nearly $600 million on media ads in the nine-month period, while BellSouth spent just over $100 million, TNS said.

AT&T has said about 20 percent of operating cost savings in the BellSouth merger will come from lower advertising costs.

The new AT&T was formed in the merger of SBC Communications and AT&T in late 2005. Adding to the mix, in late 2004 Cingular bought AT&T Wireless, eradicating that brand for its poor reputation among customers.

“The good news is there is a difference between AT&T and AT&T Wireless,” Clark said. “We have benefited significantly…by having 12 months under our belt as the new AT&T.”

Introducing the iPhone… (finally!)

Capping literally years of speculation on perhaps the most intensely followed unconfirmed product in Apple’s history — and that’s saying a lot — the iPhone has been announced today. Yeah, we said it: “iPhone,” the name the entire free world had all but unanimously christened it from the time it’d been nothing more than a twinkle in Stevie J’s eye (comments, Cisco?). Sweet, glorious specs of the 11.6 millimeter device (that’s frickin’ thin, by the way) include a 3.5-inch 480 x 320 touchscreen display with multi-touch support and a proximity sensor to turn off the sensor when it’s close to your face, 2 megapixel cam, 4GB or 8 GB of storage, Bluetooth with EDR and A2DP, WiFi that automatically engages when in range, and quadband GSM radio with EDGE. Perhaps most amazingly, though, it somehow runs OS X with support for Widgets, Google Maps, and Safari, and iTunes (of course) with CoverFlow out of the gate. A partnership with Yahoo will allow all iPhone customers to hook up with free push IMAP email. Apple quotes 5 hours of battery life for talk or video, with a full 16 hours in music mode — no word on standby time yet. In a twisted way, this is one rumor mill we’re almost sad to see grind to a halt; after all, when is the next time we’re going to have an opportunity to run this picture? The 4GB iPhone will go out the door in the US as a Cingular exclusive for $499 on a two-year contract, 8GB for $599. Ships Stateside in June, Europe in fourth quarter, Asia in 2008.

The basics:

  • Single front button.
  • 3.5 inch widescreen display featuring the highest pixel density ever shipped in a portable device.
  • 2 megapixel camera.
  • iPod dock.
  • Proximity sensor which switches between modes and screen orientation based on how a user holds it.
  • 11.6 mm thick.
  • Syncs with iTunes
  • GSM/EDGE
  • Wifi
  • Bluetooth
  • Cinglar only.
  • Visual voicemail – shows a list of your voicemails like you see a list of emails.
  • Error correcting on-screen keyboard.
  • Gestural interface
  • Mail.
  • Safari.
  • Google Maps.
  • Widgets.
  • Switches seamlessly between EDGE and WiFi.
  • Free Yahoo! IMAP email to all iPhone customs.
  • GPS
  • 5 hour video battery life.
  • 16 hour audio battery life.

The 4GB costs $499 and the 8GB $599 (includes a 2 year contract). It is shipping in June.
















































Cingular Claims Text Messaging Is “Optional”

So earlier we reported that you could get out of your Cingular contract due to the hike in texting fees. Well apparently if you go and call up Cingular and use this tactic they’re going to throw the following back in your face:

Q. Since Cingular is raising its rates, are customers entitled to cancel service without paying an early termination fee?

A. No, that doesn’t apply here. This is simply a pricing change for pay-per-use text and instant messaging, which is an optional service. It’s similar to buying a ringtone – that’s optional as well. It’s not part of your monthly rate plan.

Customers who pay for text and instant messages on a per-use basis are generally those who use text messaging occasionally. Frequent users generally purchase packages or bundles, so they can send and receive messages for as little as a penny each.”

So in a nutshell, Cingular is trying to pull a big ol’ load of bullshit on you by claiming text messaging is an optional service that isn’t part of your monthly plan. I’m outraged that Cingular is pulling some AOL-esque manipulation here. Have any of you tried to cancel your Cingular account without termination fees and have been shot down? Let us know in the comments.

What Cingular Tells Customers Canceling Over Text Message Rates [The Consumerist]

BlackBerry versus BlackJack: RIM sues Samsung for trademark infringement

Thoroughly annoyed by Samsung‘s entry into the smartphone sector with its new BlackJack, RIM (maker of the BlackBerry, of course), has sued Sammie for trademark infringement in US Federal Court in Los Angeles. Oh, RIM, we understand that you want to protect your trademark over the BlackBerry name. But do you really, honestly, believe that just because another smartphone has the name “Black” in it, that throngs of people will rush out to buy the BlackJack when they meant to buy the BlackBerry? Or is this just a ploy to squeeze some money out of Samsung when you two finally settle this dispute? Yeah, that’s what we thought. (Needless to say, Cingular must find this whole thing pretty hilarious.)

[Via Textually]

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