Monthly Archives: June 2010

Apple stiffs iPad owners on RAM

New details of the iPhone 4 have me pretty pissed at Apple.

I’ve dismissed most of the criticisms leveled against the Apple iPad as clueless.  The few I’ve been sympathetic to are things that can and likely will be fixed with a software update.  There is, however, one thing that’s been bothering me, the iPad only has 256MB of RAM, like the iPhone 3 Gs.

Until I got my own iPad, the 256MB RAM limit was just an academic annoyance, but it quickly became clear that it was a chintzy move on Apple’s part. Mobile Safari on the iPad only lets you open 8 different “tabs” at once, but it often struggles to keep even a fraction of that number loaded.  Often if I switch between tabs, it ends up having to reload the pages, which is slow.  It’s even worse if I switch to another app and then back, then it often has to reload all the pages.

I put some of this down to the fact that it was the first release of iOS for the iPad, and assumed it would be improved any day by a software update (which has yet to materialize).  A software update could only go so far though, since the larger screen size on the iPad would likely drive up memory requirements.  And, of course, the eagerly awaited update of iOS 4 for the iPad would bring multitasking for third party apps, which would drive up memory requirements even more.

Well, now I learn that the iPhone 4 is confirmed to have 512MB of RAM, twice whats in the iPad (even though it has a smaller screen resolution).  This comes less than three months after shipping the first iPad, and less than two months after shipping the iPad WiFi-3G model I have.   I know that things move pretty fast in the tech industry, which is why I didn’t get bent out of shape when apple cut the price of the original iPhone by $200 only a few months after launch, but this really pisses me off.

The poor experience “multitasking” with Apple’s own apps on the iPad is the really my only big complaint with the device, and now its pretty clear that it’s likely that annoyance is going to extend to 3rd party apps when iOS 4 makes it to the iPad this fall.

Gruber Gets Pissy About AT&T iPhone Tethering Charge

There has been a lot of discussion about yesterday’s announcement from AT&T of new smartphone pricing plans that apply to a range of devices, including the iPhone and iPad.  They are eliminating the unlimited data plans they used to offer, in favor of tiered pricing and finally allowing customers to use the tethering feature added to the iPhone last summer.  Reactions have been mixed, but nearly everyone has their nose out of shape about the additional charge for tethering.  I think most of them are wrong.

John Gruber of is a good exemplar of the critics.  Gruber reacted to an interview with AT&T VP Mark Collins on GigaOhm:

GigaOM: What about the $20 tethering fee? It looks like a convenience charge.

Collins: That capability is enabling something you can’t do today. You can use one device and get multiple connections so it’s more useful to you. You’re going to use more data so the price is based on the value that will be delivered.

Gruber’s response is typical of most of the bitching about this move:

(Emphasis added.) This would be true if the data plan were still “unlimited”, but it’s not. You’re already paying for a capped amount of bandwidth — 2 GB — and what you consume via tethering counts toward that cap. You’re using the same amount of data but in a different way. And if you go over your cap, you’ll be charged the $10 overage fee for each additional gigabyte. There is no excuse for this $20 tethering charge other than greed.

I don’t like mobile carriers, and I generally don’t like their approach to pricing, but  I don’t think Gruber and those of like mind are really thinking this through.

Its hard to imagine that someone using tethering isn’t going to use more data. I’m already using significantly more cellular data on my iPad than I was on my iPhone because the device itself is faster, because I can go through web pages faster because I can see more at once, and because I often opt for the richer desktop versions of sites on the iPad, rather than the mobile versions I use on the iPhone.  If I were using my laptop to access the Internet over my iPhone via tethering with any frequency, I expect I’d be using even more.  So, even if I’d still be using less than the 2GB limit on a $25/month iPhone data plan, I’d still be using significantly more than I would with my phone alone, and so would most other users of tethering, which would increase AT&Ts costs.

Gruber, like most others, focuses on the extreme case of the 2GB limit on the data plan, but tiered pricing plans are built on averages, and tethering is sure to shift the averages.  If they honestly believe that a tethering user isn’t going to place significantly more load on the network than an ordinary iPhone user, then it seems like the fair thing would be to add more pricing tiers, or better still, a fixed price per monthly GB.  How does $10/GB, which is their charge for anyone who uses over 2GB/month, sound?  I also like the idea of a rollover plan like they have for voice minutes.