December 28th, 2011
How long do you think you will be able to screw the consumer over?
All these separate plans and options and gotchas designed to screw us will eventually no longer work. It is all just data.. even though you have society tricked into spending 5 cents for a dammed glorified email.
No wireless carrier will sell me just a data plan. They won’t allow data by itself because they want to ensure that you are paying for text messaging, voice and any other number of made up services (like a monthly GPS “service”).… they all have issues. I don’t need phone service so why should I be charged an extra 30-50$ a month? If I get a Data only account for a laptop and put the SIM card into my phone they will see that it is not the right type of device for the service and hassle me. The best way I could come up with before the T-Mobile plan was to get a WiFi hotspot and then connect my phone via WiFi. I was going to get a Smartphone from any carrier and use it with a MiFi from Comcast (30$ a month). However the phone I have is capable of being a MiFi hotspot by itself so why should I carry two devices?..Because they won’t sell me a plan for it … It just makes no sense other than from the perspective of screwing over ignorant customers.
I thought I finally had a way around their bullshit with the T-Mobile 30$ monthly pre pay 5Gig data/Unlimited Text/100 min voice plan. I respect T-Mobile for giving me better options. Since October I have had this service and only used ..0 minutes, 0 texts, and no more than 500MB a month. Because I use Google voice and VOIP on my Android device I barely need to use anything from T-Mobile (or whatever provider). The service is just there for data between WiFi networks.
Since I moved away from a subsidized iPhone and AT&T to this T-Mobile pre pay plan with an outright purchased Samsung Galaxy S2 I am saving 60$ a month and I had about the cheapest iPhone plan you could get because of the bullshit restrictions and gotchas required for the “privilege” to own an iPhone. Since switching I am gaining:
- Freedom from Apple’s Stalin like control over the platform.
- 4G (It’s not just an Apple model name) …I’m getting 20-25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload in my area most of the time.
- The ability to load custom operating systems. Like the developers that ripped the CarrierIQ application out that was in the news recently because the carriers think they have complete spying rights or adding back VOIP features that the carriers decided had no business being on a phone.
- Use applications & features that only would be developed under an attitude of freedom like a bitcoin client.
- Use an SD card….and many other technical plusses.
- Superior hardware (in my opinion).
- Did I mention 60$ a month in my pocket.
The Plan I got From T-Mobile fits my requirements , it is cheap and very data centric. The 100 minutes for voice is designed in such a way that they are counting on you to go over minuets if you use your phone service. Here are the few areas I have found where they are still trying to screw the consumer:
- Because the service is Pre Pay they visual Voicemail application will not work. This is because they want to help you to burn through your 100Min. Not an issue for me as the only VM are wrong numbers that are not caught by Google Voice. My normal Voicemails comes into my inbox as a WAV file or transcribed (I think T-Mobile charges for transcribing as well).
- WiFi calling from T-Mobile will not work .. the whole concept T-Mobile has for WiFi calling is stupid anyway. When I first heard about it I thought T-Mobile was ahead of the curve of realizing that they are just a data network provider but then the details came out. It’s only purpose is to alleviate reception issues that would only be resolved by them building up their network. So they are charging you to help reduce their network bandwidth… brilliant…If it did not count against your minuets it would make sense for the consumer but as it is it’s just a waste of a good technology. There are plenty next to free VOIP solutions for carriers not to charge for making calls over WiFi but AT&T does the same thing. In fact, AT&T has you pay for a little mini cell tower device then.. you have to provide it with power and internet then get separate minuets for it…all to get around AT&T’s crappy network in your area.
- Data Roaming does not exist… I only discovered this during a road trip for Xmas to the boonies and it is the only issue that really aggravates me. Apparently another way they tried to hobble the service was making it so that you can only use data in areas with direct network coverage.
All said and done I am only using 200-500Meg a month of data… That is a sweet deal for T-Mobile @ 30$ a month for little usage. They would make a killing if everyone was like me. They can’t come up with a plan that doesn’t try to jack me around? I predict the first carried that drops the BS and goes to a data as the primary service model will get a mass influx from the newer generations that just shake their head at the idea of paying for text messages and ring tones.
I bought Apple stock the day I bought the iPhone and now I am thinking I need to sell it because it just doesn’t make sense that it can continue upward being the most valuable company in the world. It may not happen soon but eventually they will no longer be able to extract the insane premium that they are used to (from consumers or carrier subsidies).
Apple is aligned with the companies that want to screw over the consumer and not the consumer. Leaving Siri out of IOS to sell more 4Gs’s when the minions were going to buy it anyway. I could not even use my iPhone as an iPod after I got rid of my “monthly rape” AT&T service. I think the tech honeymoon will be over eventually and the little prick decisions the company continues to make will sour the relationship with the average consumer. Good riddance the both of ya..
May 5th, 2010
So this morning I woke up like a kid on Xmas looking to see what was under the tree half expecting a lump of Coal. While the Vonage earnings did not blow us away 6/7 cents a share was more than I was expecting. I think what the hold back was to seeing the over 2.00 pop I was hoping to see was the subscriber numbers. They seem to be doing everything right other than adding new lines and I think this is holding them back.
While there is potential in the future for mobile offerings, their current offerings disappoint me personally and I don’t think they are addressing what the market really wants.
I am staying long for a while now. Why? Because it did not tank on earnings day like it has in the past and actually went up erasing the big loss the day before (as of now).
May 4th, 2010
Apparently I was playing chicken with the market and did not know about it. My stated plan was to cash in 75% of my position today before earnings but right at the open it dropped over 10%. So now I am staying in to see what the earnings are like tomorrow.
Thinking about it more the same reason for me to sell the day before earnings also holds true for somebody else to heavily short VG the day before earnings.. I hate to be in a position where I “hope” good news comes out tomorrow but that drop made me want to hold on because I could not lock in profits in. One way or another I think I will be out of VG tomorrow because there are other things on my radar as of recently.
April 30th, 2010
After the Netflix move on earnings and hearing some friends talking about local video stores closing I started thinking about the Redbox machines owned by Coinstar. While I think Netflix has a much better model it does not change the fact that whenever I go to Wal-Mart people are in line at the RedBox like it was a hummingbird feeder. So there is a definitely a shift from rental stores to "other" with the majority of the other being Netflix I still think there is room for other players such as Coinstar. I am keeping my eye on Blockbuster but it looks like too little too late .. Redbox at least has a foothold and can move into an online model like Netflix.
So expecting abnormal growth from earnings I bought Coinstar (CSTR) on Tuesday at 36.72 and sold after open on Friday @ 48.32 ( should have been 49+ but TD Strategy Desk screwed me and that will be another story)
This stock is still interesting to me and I may get back in at some point.
April 30th, 2010
So I have been holding onto this stock for quite a while now and while I still think I should be able to sell it at least in the mid 2′s the market has disagreed with me. My cost basis is around 1.40 so I am doing ok now (1.71 right now). For the past few quarters there is a big run up into earnings then a pull back to the 1.30-1.40 range. This time I am selling 50-75% of my position no matter what before earnings (if I had to guess it will probably be 1.80+ish early next week). I think the stock is generally hated and they would have to do something amazing to overcome the hate.
March 30th, 2010
I few months back I took some profit from a trade and purchased Keurig Coffee maker. First off let me say that I am a bit of a coffee geek and have spent well over 1000$ in the past few years on grinders and espresso machines and all kinds of makers and accessories. I work from home so I justify it as I use the hell out of them and don’t spend 5$ a cup on Starbucks coffee a few times a day. The Keurig coffee maker is unbelievable.. so simple.. so clean ..so fast…. I knew there were similar products in the past that had the concept of cartridge type use(krups/pods) but the Keurig has really taken off. The other day the grocery checkout lady said she loved hers..
They are not a monopoly because there are plenty of competitors out there but everyone wants the keurig because it is the best device (what a problem to have). I know for Xmas I will be giving a few away, this is perfect for my grandma or father that appreciate a good cup of coffee. They are buying all the makers of the "K Cups" (the cartages that go into the device) but you can’t say it is a monopoly any more than apple controlling all the apps that go onto its devices (the app store way more damaging to society).
Now I know the stock has had a big run and you don’t want to get in at the top but since they make the consumables that this product uses I think this is going to be an ongoing cash cow.. Since this is a long position for me and I really do believe in the device and future profitability I am not to worried about price right now and if it goes down I would be more than happy to add to my position. Almost all the long positions I hold are things I use and advocate of such as Netflix, Apple, Visa and now Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Vonage being the Rodney Dangerfield in that family).
March 28th, 2010
Warning Video Game Geek knowlege Helpful.
Back in 2003 I started playing an online video game called Star Wars Galaxies. This game was way ahead of its time and consisted of a virtual world based on a concept called “sandbox play” where you had the flexibility to do whatever you wanted within the framework of the game (like building a castle in a sandbox). There were different professions you could go into and mix and match skills to come up with a totally unique player. There were fighting professions and crafting professions and even politicians and entertainers. This game had its own economy where they had economists consult them on how to set it up to deal with inflation and such. It was amazing to see the interdependencies of the people needing goods and services from each other.
You got to choose what you wanted to be in the game and then earn experience points to progress by doing tasks related to your chosen field. Some professions were more difficult or require more time to put in than others (just like real life). For instance if you use a rifle you go up in rifle skills or if you craft batteries you go up in crafting skills.
The problem with this began when they introduced the Jedi class that was considered a special class because of their role in the movies. The Jedi were intended to be an extremely difficult character to obtain and play but the reward was more power. To “unlock” Jedi in the beginning you had to first potentially master 32 professions that took allot of time and effort. Once unlocked progression would be slow and anyone could attack and kill you and with “Perma Death” for this class you would have to start over… Another nice touch for this class was if you were out showing off the game would put a bounty on your head that the other players that were bounty hunters could come and track you down and kill you.
I took the challenge because I enjoyed the game and wanted to play Jedi. I put in an insane amount of time to obtain the class (100′s of hours if not a 1000). Some argue (disregarding definitions of words) that obtaining a Jedi was not work because it was within a video game. The fact is that there are people that go to a location during the day and repeat tasks within the game so that they can make virtual currency that they then trade for “real” currency (almost like a real job).
Sony had a hard time with this because they did not stick with the perma death and penalties for this class because people would complain about it… So the numbers grew. Regular players complained that they paid the same 15$ a month to play as the Jedi players so they should have a Jedi as well. Therein lies the political tie. The complainers eventually won and SOE dramatically changed the game taking away the freedom to choose what you wanted to be and created a pre determined class system. And yes they “socialized” Jedi making it a starter profession. Since they socialized it they devalued it and made the same as all the others. Before this change happened I could sell my account on Ebay for over $1000 and after I only got $300 for it (because of some stupid items I had).
Further into my adult life I see this as a parallel to the “progressive” tax brackets and socialism where the majority will take away from the minority. I see this an equality and freedom issue. Why should somebody work for two days a week to support the government when another person only works one day a week (or perhaps even zero days a week). The point is that in a virtual world where you can spend 1 year of time to rise to what I would consider a virtual level of CEO it exposed the unfairness of real life systems stacked against people who choose to work harder to obtain something. I think about it every time I hear all the liberal pundits say that they are only going to go after the top 5% and I can’t believe that people accept it seemingly because injustice is not real if it is not happening to you. I always believed that government should ensure that society is free and equal but the truth is that it is far from it.
Work hard.. maybe someday you may get rewarded with a 70-80% tax bracket.
December 14th, 2009
Vonage released an update to its Iphone application yesterday which states it includes the needed code for the Vonage World Mobile plan that they are supposed to be launching in a few weeks. I read this on the update to the newest version but now I do not see it in the application description on the app store. I am a chronic checker of new apps and updates and usually see things first. I wish I would have thought to take a screenshot…
The last app that they put on the Apple App store had to be submitted early and then reviewed for acceptance so I had been expecting the same to happen with the Vonage World Mobile plan but this update has made it so that they could be launching this almost any day now. They also said “in the next few weeks” at the analyst day call a few weeks back.
I for one am hoping to switch my land line service to the mobile Vonage if it is worthy (the last Vonage app was a huge disappointment). If all goes as I hope this will be a big success and we will be that much closer to VOIP clients and all wireless data service (without the voice and text rape please). Oh and I hope the stock pops as well.
Lately the stock has been ho hum (and lower than I would like). I think that a successful l iPhone application in combination with a strong quarter will really turn this around.
December 1st, 2009
It is clear that society is moving in the direction of cashless transactions and I cannot see anything that can stop it. There are benefits for paying with credit for items such as points or miles that make you feel like you are not getting all the benefits of the transaction if you use cash. Sometimes I get a dirty look like I am some kind of rube if I pay for coffee with cash at a coffee chain that shall rename unnamed….
I think the government and marketing people find it beneficial as well to have a complete history of every transaction to put into databases to data mine for whatever or track you and your movements. I think It is clearly in the governments interest to continue on this path. After all the government did convince the people to turn in their gold (by threat of fines and prison) for paper certificates then 40 years later make the currency no longer backed by gold (this counts as a back door theft in my logic). Visa and MasterCard are doing the government a favor here. Now we turn in paper money to banks and they give us a singular piece of plastic that represents all the mythical dollars floating around out there (always more floating around then there was the day before). This is all part of a progression.. there is no stopping it. We can however keep ahead by owning a company that will benefit greatly from this transition. This is like another form of sales tax that goes to a company instead of the government.
Visa and MasterCard are the two major players I see here, there of course is American Express and Discover but they are also related to the credit side of the business as well as the transaction. I my logic for going with Visa over MasterCard may be flawed but MasterCard had already been public and had a big run up so I went with Visa even though on the flip side they did a much larger IPO. I look at these two as almost the same in the long term and in the future if I see a reason to switch one for the other I will.
Oh… there is also PayPal but it is kind of a black sheep in the group and it is owned by EBay and I think in the grand scheme of things they have a niche but Visa / MasterCard is more likely to displace PayPal then PayPal is to displace them.
I have been in Visa since it came public in 2008 in the 50$s. I bought initially at 55$ and 60$ then sold a bunch near the highs. When everything was collapsing in early in 2009 I found it easy to buy more since they make their money on transactions and not interest as allot of people mistakenly think. This to me is a stock that I will hold for the next 20-30 years. This does not have the huge upside potential like a small cap stock however I do see growth for this already established company as the rest of the world comes online as a cashless globe.
November 4th, 2009
Earnings seem like one of those ink spill pictures a psychiatrist gives you and asks you what do you see… Ok, so Vonage did not dalzell like I had hoped and the culprit appears to be a cost related to how debt holders converted to stock if I am understanding this correctly. Here is the line in the release that addressed it :
Shares outstanding increased sequentially by 40 million to 197 million as of September 30, 2009, primarily as a result of debt conversions.
The With the charge backed out they claim 3cents a share earnings. They did however say that they added 400,000 in relation to their Vonage World plan. They also said that the majority of these lines came at the end of the quarter. They had a net subscriber loss of 50,000 compared to the 88,000 net subscriber loss the previous quarter.
Looking forward they did outline some of their plans for the future by releasing a world plan on mobile platforms like the iPhone and Blackberry. It sounds like they are gearing up for major technology updating in the future. They also stated they are planning to offer the mobile version of the Vonage World Plan to be an add on product for the existing 400,000 users.
While I was discouraged by the first headlines the demand for the World plan with the 400,000 number and the plans to expand that service model to the mobile devices it makes me still believe in the future the new customers driven by the new offerings will bring better earnings in the future. They have also said that the ARPU (average revenue per user) has risen 4%.
I am still holding this stock because I don’t think the news was that bad and this stock has a history of violent up swings on any good news (such as a new application release)
The stock drop has been pretty big but this is a pretty volatile stock. I surely have had worse days and this is 50% of my greed portfolio.