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Best of Smartphone Experts, 20 Dec 2009

Week one of the Smartphone Round Robin is over and week two begins tomorrow. We've just scratched the surface here and already we've run the gamut from a Windows Mobile user examining webOS to a BlackBerry user having an encounter with the Droid. If you have a Smartphone need, we're pretty confident that the Round Robin will help you find out how to fill it.

We could go on, but there's egg nog to be spiked and presents to be wrapped, so hit up the updates page for a list of reviews by platform and hit this post up after the break for the best of Smartphone Experts this week.

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AT&T Says Infrastructure Spending is NOT the Reason for iPhone Connection Problems

AT&T contacted TiPb with a statement refuting claims that their capital expenditures, specifically their investment in wireless infrastructure, has decreased while at the same time their data revenue is increasing.

To quickly recap, the claim about infrastructure investment falling as data profits rose was one of the most direct charges leveled by Newsweek's Daniel Lyons (writing as Fake Steve) as part of his Operation Chokehold series, and repeated several times on TiPb and other sites.

In the statement (reprinted in it's entirety below) AT&T claims they've increased network investment in 2009, and are taking other steps (like rolling out the 850 MHz band) to improve customer experience.

Remaining unaddressed: the actual cause of the iPhone-on-AT&T problem(s) in cities like New York and San Francisco. Granted, users in those or other affected areas may not care why it's broken. However, they likely do care deeply that it gets fixed and soon. (And so should AT&T given the increasing level of mainstream attention).

So, read the response below and then let us know what you think.

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SNL Weekend Update Roasts AT&T iPhone Network Problems

Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update sideswiped iPhone network problems last night, the latest in a series of mainstream reporting on the issue:

"It was reported this week that Google would soon launch its own cellphone as a challenge to the iPhone. Also a challenge to the iPhone? Making phone calls."

Whether AT&T is to blame, or some combination of how AT&T's network and the iPhone work together, we don't know. While AT&T was content to increase data revenue while decreasing infrastructure investment all in the name of shareholder value, it's perversely harder to ignore bad publicity than it is unhappy customers.

To quote Fake Steve, whose ill-conceived Operation Chokehold did succeed in bringing a lot of the current attention to bear:

AT&T, a huge wireless provider in the United States, cannot reliably connect calls in New York City. How can this be?

SNL video after the break!

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Dock Accessory to Turn iPhone Into Universal IR Remote

Rē Remote Control is a a new plug-in accessory for the iPhone (and iPod touch?) dock port that aims to turn Apple's mobile platform into the holy grail of living room devices -- a full programmable, multitouch universal RI remote.

Word has it the unveiling will be at CES in January, and TiPb will try to check it out and see if it impresses. However, given how slick WiFi-based remote apps have been for Apple TV, Keynote, VLC, Boxee, etc. it's safe to say we're the tiniest bit excited at the possibilities.

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Apple: HTTP Live Stream Technology Now Required for Streaming Video

HTTP live stream technology is now required for streaming video according to Apple's new iPhone developer RSS feed.

An innovative feature of iPhone OS 3.0 is support for HTTP Live Streaming technology. One of the great benefits this technology delivers is the ability to dynamically adjust to varying network bandwidth conditions. It lets you store multiple video clips of different quality on the server, and then deliver the one that matches what the requesting customer is capable of viewing given the network they have access to. Use of it is now required for all applications which deliver streaming video. You must include a low quality stream of no more than 64 Kbps for your app to resort to when network conditions demand it, along with the higher quality streams you want to deliver to your customers when the network can support it.

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Verizon Prepared to Handle iPhone in 2010 -- If Exclusivity Ends with AT&T

If Apple ends US iPhone exclusivity with AT&T in 2010, could Verizon handle the handset that currently crushes service in data-dense cities like San Francisco and New York? BusinessWeek scored the quote from Verizon Wireless Chief Technology Officer Anthony Melone:

"We have put things in place already. We are prepared to support that traffic."

"It comes down to backing that process with money. We've been more consistent than any carrier in the last 10 years investing year over year."

"We will handle it if we ever get it."

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iPhone Captures 46% of Japanese Smartphone Market

MobileCrunch brings word that, according to Impress R&D [Japanese language]:

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AT&T Has "Not Made Any Decision to Implement Tiered Pricing"

How Should AT&T Fix Their Network?(polls)

AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega has told the Wall Street Journal that despite what he said back in October and earlier in December:

"We have not made any decision to implement tiered pricing."

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The Competition: Palm Launches Ares Beta, Browser-based webOS Development Environment

Our friends over at PreCentral.net bring word that Palm has launched a beta version of their browser-based IDE (integrated development environment) for webOS called Project Ares (sounds Manga, harkens to the Hellenic god of war -- nice!). Supports Safari, Chrome, and Firefox (no mention of Internet Explorer?).

You can simply fire up your browser and go to http://ares.palm.com/, sign in with your developer account, and get coding.

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WordPress and Tumblr show iPhone Tweetie and Twitterrific Not Just for Twitter Anymore

Tweetie 2 and Twitterrific 2 aren't just two of the best Twitter clients for the iPhone, they're two of the best mobile micro-blogging interfaces on the planet and now both WordPress and Tumblr are taking advantage of them -- which is ridiculously awesome for iPhone users.

WordPress now lets you "Post and Read via Twitter API", and they have a complete walkthrough posted on how to set it up.

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