Back to the 80's...

Most of my first week in Mexico was spent doing battle with two cellular companies:  Boost Mobile and AT&T over cellular coverage and pricing.

As the loser of said battles my only remaining recourse is to document the events within this blog so to serve as a warning to those in similar predicaments so that they will learn from this experience and not waste time getting gobsmacked by indifference and incompetence.

Prior to moving, I enjoyed AT&T cellular service in the SF Bay area.  I very recently changed back to iPhone ownership because the iPhone would pair with my hearing-assist device where as my HTC (Verizon) would not - this, despite spending a full day at the audiologist coaxing the phone, like a groundhog emerging from it's hole, to "see" the bluetooth device.  Eventually I abandoned my HTC phone in favor of the iPhone since the iPhone took the pairing on the first attempt.

(side note: to the credit of Verizon, when they learned of why I was switching phones, they waived the contract cancellation fee.  Well-played, Verizon - you have, through your sense of humanity, ensured an advocate in me!)

Anyway, life was good until I crossed the border into Mexico.  Within inches, AT&T graced me with a free text message informing me that cellular roam rates would now be incurred at $0.99/minute of talk-time and $19.97/megabyte of data.

Considering I had an unlimited data plan, with tethering, $20 per meg struck me as wee bit...shall we say, excessive...  Off to the interweb lumbered I, searching for call plans for my phone that would allow me to use my US phone in Mexico (albeit within a few miles of the international border) without the looming threat of immediate bankruptcy for doing so.

I was unsuccessful in locating a comparable AT&T plan that included Mexico in it's cellular goodness without having first to pledge most, if not all, of my future earnings to this corporation in return for minimal utilization of their services.  So, back across the border to the nearest AT&T store where I met a most-helpful clerk.

Jonaton was aware immediately of my "special" needs -- I don't care for cellular minutes being hard-of-hearing but, instead, rely heavily on data use for my communication needs.  In other words, I communicate with emails and text messaging.  I can use the phone but it's an involved process and, I assure you, I will not hear every word spoken with accuracy.

The best plan, even after he called advanced customer care, was something called the Viva-Mexico plan -- where I can have 450 minutes of talk time per month (on either side of the border) but data would be offered only as a pay-as-you-go option:  text messages would cost $0.50 each and data can be consumed at the rate of a mere $5/mb.  This would also lower my basic bill by half - to about $55/month.

I commented: Boost offers me unlimited text, email, phone and data, with international support, for $55/month -- how can you (AT&T) compete with this?  He just threw me a sad look and said: We can't.

Having, literally, no other choice being a new contract holder, I accepted the new calling plan.  When I later crossed back into Mexico, I tried the cellular service and it works ok.  Texting still seemed really flaky and I don't want to pay $0.50 per text, so I turned off all cellular service and now only use the phone, while in-country, when I can access wireless.  Basically, I am paying AT&T $55/month to not penalize me for the cost of the phone (new plan) or contract cancellation, said total being close to $1,000.

Phoneless, I next went to Boost Mobile because (a) everyone in Mexico uses the radio over the phone, and (b) the phones work in Mexico this close to the border over voice and text as well.  Finding a radio-phone, however, turned out to be an epic quest as all stores in the US have stopped stocking the phones in preparation for the removal of the IDEN towers which provide radio communications, making the (what I like to call the "beep-beep") part of the service go the way of the dodo.

Boost is actively tearing-down their IDEN towers - radio, a far superior communication service in terms of speed and clarity imo, for some reason is going away in the US at the end of this year.

I visited a total of five Boost stores without finding a single radio-equipped phone.  I finally decided on the smart phone option but the last store was out of stock of the particular model I wanted, (weird -- phone stores with no phones) so we headed back to the first store we stopped at.  Where at I learned that the store manager had contacted her manager who hand-delivered his last two radio-phones to the store.  Of which one had already sold.  Awesome!

I snatched the other one up (prematurely) declaring victory over the phone consortium's efforts to thwart my communication needs!  Huzzah!

We activated the phone and I returned to my new home...where I learned that the phone would not work on the cellular or text network.  Dialing 611 -- Boost's customer service number which they promise on their website will never be restricted was, on my phone, restricted.  The split-second I pressed the "ok" button to send a call, a screen pop-up declared "Service Restricted" on my call.

Two people, sitting next to me on my couch, both with Boost service, both with the exact same model of phone, were able to make cellular calls (to the US and Mexico) and send text messages.

At least my radio worked.

The next morning I searched their web site for solutions and, finding none, called customer service.

Remembering how difficult it is for me to use a phone, stumbling through Boost Mobile's IVR (interactive voice response) system was an absolute nightmare of chaos and misdirection.  I challenge you to get to a live person within five minutes of making the connection.  Not hold-time, mind you, but simply by navigating through their IVR options.  It took several tries - hanging-up and recalling - before I learned which options to not press.

As a former support manager, I've designed IVR systems.  Companies use them when they either (A) want to quickly route customers to the right person to talk with or, (B) do not want to talk to their customers.  Boost was clearly in category B - you have to have the persistence and patience of a diplomat to get to a real person.

I finally reached a live person and was further aggravated by having to repeat all of the information I plugged into the IVR back to the CSR.  This, to me, screams of incompetence and ambivalence towards the customer.  If you're not going to use/save the information I provide, then don't waste my time asking me for it.  (IVR Design Note:  A good way to reduce turn-over in your customer service organization is to not have your customers so spun-up and angry that they free-rage on your CSRs when they finally reach them.)

The CSR was clearly ESL (English as a second language) and I spent several minutes explaining the situation to her.   She attempted to "fix" my phone by having me turn the phone off and on several times, and performing master resets from the advanced settings menu.  Restricted service prevailed.  We quickly exhausted her catalog of diagnostic options.

I was escalated to level 2 -- which was another ESL person, who immediately asked me for all of my information starting with everything I plugged into the IR and why I was calling.  So, in addition to the IVR not recording anything, the CSRs apparently do not record anything about why you're calling them so that people in other departments can access (and learn from) the information.  Or they silo the info and the tech folks simply cannot see what the non-tech folks write.

Then the tech informed me (as did the CSR) that the IDEN service was going way at the end of the year leaving me with the impression of: since my phone has radio and this service is expiring, they don't feel as if they are obligated to help me with my issue.

First thing level-2 wants me to do is reset the phone: turn it off/on, master reset, remove the battery, etc.  I wondered if he thought that if he asked me to do this, if it would differently from when the CSR asked me to do this.

Still restricted service.

Side note - on my phone display, I show full bars, that line-1 is ready, and I am connected to the Boost network.  There's no reason why the phone should not work.

So eventually, the tech gets frustrated and takes the cop-out response of: well, since you're in Mexico, our $5 international plan only means that calls are guaranteed to work from the US to Mexico and not from Mexico to anywhere.  Doesn't care that services work on other phones in my proximity and has no interest of pursuing the issue further.

And that's how we ended the call.

So, my next thought was that maybe the counter-person at Boost (back in the US) forgot to register my cell with the network.  I gave my phone to one of my friends with an identically-working phone because she was heading over the border the next day and agreed to stop by the Boost store and ask them to look at it.  However, when she got to the border with the phone, she called her husband from my phone and since cellular service seemed to working, she decided to not go to the store and instead returned with the phone.

Which was still service restricted.

So, I called Boost back, and within about 30 minutes finally made it back to a level-2 tech who was quite puzzled as to why my phone wouldn't work.  We tried several variations of the reset, but nothing worked.  I opined to him that because the "Service Restricted" message was popping up so quickly when I pressed the send key, that the problem was in the phone's ROM and service restriction was software and not tower based.

He agreed that this was a possibility especially considering that my phone, chronologically, was a year or two older than my friends' phones that were working.

I asked him to call me, to see what he heard on his end and that was the end of that call as I was dropped.  Apparently too much to handle, the tech either intentionally dropped my call or his phone system was at a level so advanced he cannot work it properly.  In either case, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to get resolution from him.

Contacting Boost CSR a final time about my brick, that I've yet to use successfully, I asked about returns and refunds and was informed, in no uncertain terms, that I have pre-paid for my service.  They have no refund program.  Is there anything else we can "help" you with today?

So I paid about $110 for a brick -- at least I can use the two-way for the time being.  $3/day for 30 days (more or less) with more features I can't use than I can.  Sweet deal, yo.

Yesterday, I went to the Nextel store in Rosarito to inquire about IDEN and cellular service.  tl;dr - I can get a minimal calling plan (120 minutes) with unlimited radio for about $40/month.  I only get 20 text messages per month but additional texting is about $0.06 per message.  (It's nice when a phone company doesn't subject you to violent sex acts for a service, isn't it?)  All services on the phone work into California up to about Bakersfield at which point they become 1-way only.  Not sure how I feel about that but, hey, at least it works and I would have full services.

So, I'm going to chuck my Boost phone into the ocean once my month is up and buy the Mexico Nextel phone.  I use my Google-Voice number, which is paired to my Skype number, for all other phone services and eventually I'll add a Vonage number to my house that has a US number (to which I'll forward my Google phone to) and I'll be set.

Side note - I made the mistake of enrolling in auto-pay on the Boost mobile website assuming I would have a working phone similar to what my friends enjoy. While it was super easy to enroll, it's impossible to un-enroll from autopay on the website.  So another dreaded call to Boost is looming.  If you ever have to call Boost mobile, I recommend this information to help you get to a live person as quickly as possible.  I want something in writing from them canceling my autopay so that when they autobill me next month, I can force a refund.  (Look!  A windmill!  Chaaaarge!)

My AT&T phone I can use as a data terminal over wifi (facetime calls with the office and such) but I won't turn it on unless I'm back over the border in the US.  Once my contract is at a point where I can quit for $200, I'm out.

I have my Mexican Nextel for calling when I'm not at home.  If you're in the US and you want to call me, you're going to have to deal with your cellular provider and pay the extra fees that they'll extort from you.  Good luck with that.

Finally, I'm really hoping that Richard Branson does something spectacular with his Virgin line of phones.  It would be awesome to see a cellular company erase international borders and just have a phone that works, regardless of where you are, for a consistent fee.

Other than shoveling obscene amounts of profits into the never-satiated maws of the phone conglomerates, I just don't understand why this should be so difficult.  I honestly look forward to untethering myself -- like a heroin junkie coming clean -- from the cellular leash.  Freedom, I crave thy sweet sting!

I'm taking the path of least resistance.  If the phone companies don't want to offer something reasonable in return for my hard-earned dollars, then I have absolutely no problem converting those dollars to pesos and spending them here.

Just saying...

HTC Thunderbolt - The Honeymoon? Definitely Over.

First, let me begin by saying that I have been an Apple fan for a long time. In addition to using their computers, I was a first generation adopter of both the iPod and the iPhone.  I've gone through the original iPhone, the 3G and the 4. What I like about the iPhone can be summed up by saying that it represents exemplary engineering on top of a ghastly deployment.

After all those years of being an iPhone user with AT&T, I could no longer justify paying for AT&T's sub-standard cellular services.  The times I could complete a conversation on my iPhone without dropping the call, or losing call quality was an extremely rare event.  (And I live in the Bay area, home to AT&T which is touted as one of their major coverage areas....)

AT&T's cellular service is simply pathetic.  As a matter of fact, I deemed it justifiable to pay the contract cancellation penalty with AT&T to come to Verizon.  I never realized how bad AT&T service was, however, until switched to Verizon.   Within my first week of using my Thunderbolt, I experienced NO dropped calls, NO poor signals, NO service interruptions of any kind.  (Unless I was connected to an AT&T cellular customer...)

And, while Apple is, in my opinion, the best hardware engineer in the business, the other factor in my decision to move phone platforms was that Apple never quite got the whole synchronization thing down. (Pre-iCloud)  I really don't need seven different listings for my veterinarian in my address book.  Syncing services with Google have been working for me perfectly - and I don't have to pay them $99 per year to screw up my address book contents or my calendar.

So I dropped .me and my iPhone for a Google phone living in a Google world.  Since the Android requires a Google account, (Hey! I have one of those!), setting up my phone required that I only provide it with my account information and everything from that point was auto-magically configured for me.  Insta-integration with all my Google-based services.  Plus really cool stuff like Google Voice for messaging.


It's now been six months with the Android. Apple has just released their iPhone 4S...and, within a day, I find myself browsing the provider's pages looking/comparing contracts and service offerings.  What the hell am I doing?!?

The shine on this Android HTC Thunderbolt phone is definitely gone.  While I like most of the Verizon services, specifically the quality of the cellular coverage, I am really dissatisfied with some of their processes and, as far as the phone is concerned, the HTC Thunderbolt is a complete a total piece of crap.  I will NEVER, EVER buy another phone from HTC every again.

Problems with Verizon and the HTC Thunderbolt Nobody Talks About:

1. Crapware

I rooted my Android within a week of getting it.  Verizon pre-loaded the Thunderbolt with an amazing amount of crapware that they don't allow you to delete off their phone.  Seriously bad software.  That does nothing except eat tons of space in my memory store.  Once I rooted the phone (similar to the jail-breaking process for the iPhone), I was able to delete that bloatware and regain my lost storage for other applications.

2. Say My Name, Bitch!

Of course there's a problem with rooting your phone -- and that's dealing with Verizon's never-ending attempts to force software updates down your throat and to your phone.  Should you make the tragic mistake of leaving your phone "on" (which I do when sitting at my desk with the phone plugged into the charger) then Verizon assumes control of your phone by forcing your phone to accept updates over the network.

Since you've rooted your phone, said updates (which are image zip files stored to your cache) will not install after the download completes and the phone reboots itself.  All without any confirmation or interaction from your part.  Special, no?

When your phone reboots, you're presented with the broken-android symbol and you have to go into your root-tools menu to delete the cached files from your phone.  This removes the forced-download and allows you to reboot your phone into it's previously rooted state.  Of course, leave your phone on for too long and here it comes again!

There's no "off" switch to disable the forced downloads.  Verizon's attitude, gleaned from the forums, is that: "It's our network.  Suffer, bitch."

3. Random Reboots and Disappearing Apps

My co-workers claim that my phone re-booting itself (without an "upgrade" being pushed down) is because I rooted my phone.  After reading the complaints about the HTC Thunderbolt out on the etherstream - I beg to differ.  I think the HTC/Verizon mash-up operating system is just so crappy it crashes and forces a reboot.  I've noticed that this happens when the network flips around a lot.  I've also noticed it booting for no apparent reason.

What's also special is that apps just disappear off your phone following a reboot.  Once your phone restarts, you have to give it several moments of 4G time to restore whatever apps it randomly deleted.  Totally weird behavior.  It's almost like using a Windows operating system.

4. I've Lost My Network and I Can't Get Up

Several times with this Thunderbolt I've noticed that I'm stuck in 1G mode.  I try toggling the mobile network connection off/on to reset it, but it always comes back to the 1G network.  This occasionally happens when it gets stuckin 3G mode as well.  (Funny, I've never seen 2G...)

The only way I've found to fix this problem is to force a restart.  When the phone regains consciousness, it happily joins the 4G network.

5. Sucks like a Starving Vampire

Granted, the Gingerbread update is supposed to fix a lot of the issues with the HTC Thunderbolt's ability to drain your battery faster than a starving vampire in a blood bank.  I even upgraded, spending about $50, for a uber-battery, doubling the phone's weight and thickness.  It's worth it, though, having a battery that can last me on the train ride between San Jose and San Francisco.

There's entire web pages devoted to tricks and tips to prolonging the battery life on this phone all of which basically involve crippling, or at least diminishing, all of the features that justified the purchase of your phone in the first place.

I'm really hoping Gingerbread offers better battery life as, since I don't live in a winter-zone anymore, it's a shame to waste the hand-warming features of a rapidly depleting battery.


So...I un-rooted my phone so that I could get the Gingerbread update, replacing Froyo on this phone.  I have no idea why it takes Verizon so long to roll-out these updates.  Perhaps their visual basic programmers are having a hard time with all the Android unixey stuff.  Who knows?  I mean, you have to make sure that the user can't delete the fucking golf demo, right?

When Gingerbread was finally available for the Thunderbolt, the update lasted all of a day, if that, before Verizon yanked the update from the download stream.  It was as if they were like: QA testing?  We've heard of that...  The update was so bug-ridden that it was disabling or severely-impairing phone functionality.

Now, as of yesterday, they're starting to push the Gingerbread update back out to the users.  At a time when Google is announcing the Ice Cream Sandwich update (the successor to Gingerbread), Verizon, after one false-start, is now only 1 release behind on the operating system.

Tell me -- why am I paying premium rates for a phone Verizon and HTC can't keep current?

So, as soon as I come into a little cash, I think I will call Verizon customer services (snicker) and complain to them about this phone and their inability to provide a stable (or current) operating system platform.  I'd like to negotiate them into a new Motorola Android phone...Verizon seems ti play better with Motorola -- timely updates, better hardware, non thermo-radioactive battery, etc.

I want to stay in the Google universe because everything works there.  The iPhone is looking sexy -- but it's still not 4G...not yet...

HTC Thunderbolt (Verizon) vs. iPhone 4 (AT&T)

I'm writing this post while traveling home on CalTain using my iPad which is hotspotted (tethered) to my new HTC Thunderbolt smartphone on Verizon's 4G network. To do so, all I had to do was tap a couple icons in the phone to get the mobile sharing up and running, then have my iPad scan for a wireless network and connect (authenticate). I normally would. Before you know it, my iPad is seamlessly online and communicating with whatever I need to talk with on the Internet. The current power level is at 68% so we'll see how that serves us by the time this article is finished.

The tl;dr for this review is simply this: Thunderbolt > iPhone 4.

Now, let me explain why...

First, let me begin by saying that I have been an Apple fan for a long time. In addition to using their computers, I was a first generation adopter of both the iPod and the iPhone. I've gone through the original iPhone, the 3G and the 4. As a matter of fact, I deemed it justifiable to pay the contract cancellation penalty with AT&T to come to Verizon.

What I like about the iPhone can be summed up by saying that it represents exemplary engineering on top of a ghastly deployment. AT&T's service is, by comparison, pathetic; it is the Dan Quayle of service and performance - at best, AT&T's service can only be described as "mediocre".

Switching to Verizon made me realize just how bad AT&T's service actually is. Within my first week of using my Thunderbolt, I experienced NO dropped calls, NO poor signals, NO service interruptions of any kind. Certainly not what I was accustomed to after years of (ab)use from AT&T.

And, while Apple is, in my opinion, the best hardware engineer in the business, the other factor in my decision to move phone platforms was that Apple never quite got the whole synchronization thing down. I really don't need seven different copies of my veterinarian in my address book. Syncing services with Google have been working for me perfectly - and I don't have to pay them $99 per year to screw up my address book contents or my calendar.

So, at this point, I've dropped .me, and my iPhone, for a Google world. Since the Android requires a Google account, (Hey! I have one of those!), setting up my phone required that I only provide it with my account information and everything from that point was auto-magically configured for me.

What I Love About the iPhone

  • Overall Design -- the iPhone(s) have always spearheaded the industry standard on look-and-feel.  The phone feels solid regardless of it's size and it's simply umatched in terms of it's aesthetic beauty.
    • Add to this the on/off button located at the bottom-front-center of the phone.  Incredibly convenient, easy to locate by-touch.  You won't realize how much you miss it until it's gone.
  • Easily Rooted - rooting the phone takes place in one-click and is easily reversible.  Your phone is automagically backed-up and, when a new version of the OS is released, you're not waiting very long for the geniuses to release the updated rootkit.
    • The additional software available for the phone once you've rooted it makes the phone a delight to use.  Specifically, my favorite programs were Intelliscreen and BiteSMS.

Things I dislike about the iPhone:

  • DRM music.  While this isn't an iPhone-specific feature, I do (did) use my iPhone extensively with iTunes to download music.  The fact that Apple now wants about $200 to remove the DRM from the existing content I already own really pisses me off to the point where I stopped downloading music through the iTunes store altogether on my phone.
  • AT&T -- seriously bad cellular service.  I live in San Jose.  I spend a lot of time in San Francisco.  To have a call start and end without dropping, without having to repeat myself because of the crappy connection, is just like winning the lottery.  It never happens.
    • 3G is so slow that it's speeds are measured in geological terms.  It's slow to the point of worthless.
  • Sync -- sorry Apple, it just doesn't work.  In all the years I was using .me -- which I was willing to pay the $99/year for just to have a clean address book, it never happened.  Having duplicates in my address book, sometimes as many as a half-dozen for every contact, makes it unusable.  Wake-up.  The fact that one of the hottest-selling apps on the app-store is address-book-cleaner should be a clue.
  • Battery -- I can't get through the day without a re-charge.  I don't use my phone all that much for voice (see above) but I should be able to get the battery to last an entire day from just music and texting.  (This was on a new phone, too.)
  • UX -- stale.  Other than creating folders, there's not a lot I can do with the UX unless I root the device.  TBF, I can understand Apple's slow-moving approach to updating/modernizing the UX, but I think it's quickly being passed by other (agile) devices.
  • Having to enter my AppStore password every freakin' time I update and/or download.  Why?

What I like about the Thunderbolt:

  • 4G/Speed -- this sucker is so fast, it'll make your jaw drop.  Downloads are near instantaneous.  Applications load in a flash.  It's painfully noticeable when it drops down to 3G -- so much so, I usually turn it off and look for something else to do.
  • User-Interface -- I like the Android UX.  It's clean, modern, and customizable.   It encourages exploration and discovery.  It's intuitive.  I also love the time widget and it's incorporation of the weather based on my current location.  While not a fan of anthropomorphic devices (and, honestly, who is?), I like this non-intrusive approach to personalization.
  • App Market -- While the UI of the App Market (counter part to the iTunes or App Store) is less-than in every way to Apple's implementation, it is chock-full of neat stuff.  I immediately found all of my paid-for apps (bought on the iPhone) on the Market and installed them.  Overall,  a nice surprise.
  • Default Applications -- The positive thing about all the crapware installed on the Android is that it gives your creative-juices a nudge.  Something along the lines of "Wow, I didn't realize that existed."  I like all the music-based programs, for example, installed by default.  Although I'm pretty much a Pandora devotee, it has been interesting to explore the alternatives.
  • SMS - The first time I got a voice message it kind of freaked me out.  Don't know if the iPhone supports this without being rooted as I never received one until I had the android...
  • Google Apps Integration -- Since I've moved off .me to Google -- all my apps are integrated.  Flawlessly.  Including address book.  Yay!  I can even let Google Voice be my default voice mail for vm transcription.  (Which is a very nice-to-have as I'm hard-of-hearing.)
  • Verizon -- A positive point since it's not AT&T.  Simply put, I never realized how much AT&T's service sucked until I started using Verizon.
  • The connect-the-dots security unlock - because I have too many damn passwords and pins already.

Things I Don't Like About Android:

  • Blech engineering on the look-and-feel.  Truth be told, Apple spoiled me with respect to my expectation for Engineering.  Yesterday, a co-worker said: "HTC - isn't that a Korean company?" with the insinuation that my phone, physically, was inferior.  I looked at the plastic case, creaking and clicking in my hand, and just muttered an agreement.
  • Battery Life -- the phone is a vampire for energy.  The little crappy 1450ma battery that comes with it can be effortlessly drained in under two hours of intensive use.  I replaced the battery with an HTC-made 2750ma unit and a new case.  My phone is now a tank -- with respect to both battery life and look-and-feel.
  • Default Software -- Blockbuster?  Seriously?  The fact that I can't delete this application is probably one of the highest incentives I have to root the device.  There is a lot of bloatware crap installed on the phone that you can't get rid of...and., come on...Blockbuster?
  • Lack of Documentation -- this is a complex instrument.  Due to the nature of it's operating system and it's Google integration, the granularity of options available, it requires more information than some splashing marketing booklet that ships with the device.  I spent several calls with technical support the first few days I had the phone on basic set-up stuff.  I've also gotten intimate with several of the droid sites to learn how to exploit all the features of the phone since.
  • Rooting -- rooting the phone is considerably more-complex of an operation than it is on the iPhone.  And, apparently, there's the possibility that you can screw-up and brick your phone.  Also, never made clear to me, is how to recover (re-root) following a OS-update --- which can be pushed down to your device without your explicit permission?  WTF?  (One of the reasons I loathe Microsoft operating systems is that they take liberties with your environment without your explicit consent.)
  • Engineering -- the back chome-bar that folds out to stand the phone up as a display in desk-top mode is really, really a great idea.  Putting the usb-port on the bottom side (in display mode) shoots the idea right in the head.  Seriously?  Did no one test this?

I'm sure I forgot to list some stuff -- as my experience continues with the phone, I'll add to the article via comments.

In summary, once I swapped out the battery for something more apropos, I've come to really like my Thunderbolt and the Android OS.  I don't miss the iPhone 4 at all.  Everything works and works well.

Apple lost a loyal customer, I believe, because they moved too slowly in a market place where they mistakenly believe they have (had) dominance.  I recently read where they're activating about 400,000 android phones a day!  I believe it.  I didn't even mind paying the early-termination fee to walk-away from AT&T - that's how happy I am with this phone and it's service.