WhatsApp will ditch its $1 per year subscription fee

WhatsApp will ditch the service’s annual subscription fees, after founder Jan Koum admitted that the $1 per year payment concept “doesn’t work that well.” As a result of ditching the payment model, Koum explained that WhatsApp will be looking at new ways that businesses can use the service to connect with individual users, although it’s […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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CES 2016: Satechi Type-C USB Hub Updated With Pass-Through Charging for Retina MacBook

Today at CES accessory manufacturer Satechi announced a newly updated Type-C Hub for Apple’s Retina MacBook lineup, which replaces one of the traditional USB 3.0 ports with a new USB-C alternative to allow users to charge the MacBook while using the dongle. Otherwise, the hub still includes an SD card slot and Micro SD card slot in addition to two USB 3.0 ports.

In terms of new products, the company announced the Type-C Card Reader, which will let users access SD and Micro SD cards at the same time using the USB-C dongle. As a cheaper alternative, the Card Reader is smaller than the hub and lacks the USB 3.0 ports of the bigger accessory.

Both products are available in space grey, silver, and gold colors to complement Apple’s chosen colorways on the 12-inch MacBook line. Satechi hasn’t given the Type-C Card Reader any specific launch date besides „early January,“ but confirmed the accessory will run for $19.99 in its press release, although the site mentions a $24.99 price point. Starting today, those interested can purchase the new Hub for $39.99 from the company’s site.

Tags: USB-C, Satechi, CES 2016
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AT&T to Stop Offering Two-Year Phone Contracts Starting January 8

Starting on January 8, 2016, AT&T plans to introduce a „pricing simplification effort“ that will see the end of device subsidies and two-year contracts. According to an internal training document shared by Engadget, new and existing AT&T customers will only be able to purchase a smartphone at full price or with an AT&T Next payment plan going forward.

As outlined in the document, the new rules apply to all of the phones that AT&T sells, including smartphones and more basic devices, which will be paid for using new installment plans. More information on how AT&T will handle corporate accounts and non-smartphone devices like tablets and wearables will become available after an official announcement from AT&T, but it appears certain corporate users will be able to continue making two-year contract purchases.

The shift away from two-year contracts and iPhone subsidies began with T-Mobile in 2013, when the company introduced its Un-carrier payment plans uncoupling device costs from plan costs. Verizon followed suit in August of 2015, debuting new smartphone rate plans and eliminating its subsidized two-year contract option for new users.

Existing Verizon customers can still renew their two-year contracts, but AT&T’s no-contract implementation is more extreme and will not offer existing customers the option to keep their contracts once they expire.

AT&T has already been working on shifting away from two-year contracts by pushing its Next plans. In June of 2015, AT&T forced Apple and other third-party retailers to remove the option to purchase AT&T phones with a two-year contract, leaving customers with AT&T Next or a full-priced smartphone as their only third-party purchase options.

Update: AT&T has confirmed its plans to stop offering two-year contracts in a statement given to Re/code.

„With $0 down for well-qualified customers, the ability to upgrade early and down-payment options available with even lower monthly installments, our customers are overwhelmingly choosing AT&T Next,“ AT&T told Re/code. „Starting January 8, AT&T Next will be the primary way to get a new smartphone at AT&T.“

Tag: AT&T
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Apple Adds Carrier Billing to iTunes, Starting With O2 in Germany

For the first time since the iTunes Store launched in 2003, Apple has added a way for customers to pay for purchases without using a credit, debit or iTunes gift card. Starting with German carrier O2, customers can now link a phone number to their iTunes account and use carrier billing for purchases, per TechCrunch.

Apple’s new mobile phone bill option for iTunes accounts (Image: Carsten Knobloch)
The new payment method enables customers to pay for apps, songs, TV shows, movies, iBooks and other iTunes content without needing a credit or debit card, or even a bank account. Customers without a carrier contract will have iTunes purchases debited from a prepaid amount applied to the iPhone.

O2 parent company Telefonica confirmed it is working on carrier billing with Apple:

“Telefónica Germany is working with Apple related to carrier billing,” a spokesperson told us in an email. “Payment via the O2 phone bill is now available for Apple Music, iTunes, App Store and iBooks Store Purchases. The service is gradually being rolled out and will be available for all O2 customers (prepaid and postpaid) in Germany by the beginning of November 2015.”

Apple may be working with carrier billing provider Bango, used by rivals like Amazon:

We have heard on the grapevine, however, that Apple has been talking for a while with Bango, a carrier billing provider, to roll out carrier billing functionality on iTunes. […]

TechCrunch believes Apple will expand carrier billing to additional markets in the future.



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