Zact Makes Pay-As-You-Go and Pay-What-You-Want Work for Mobile

You probably use a cell phone operating on a plan supplied by a large carrier, allowing you a certain amount of network usage a month.  Or maybe you have an unlimited plan.  Either way, you’re probably paying quite a bit for the privilege.  Today, a new service provider, Zact, launched as an overlay of Sprint’s network to allow customers extremely granular control over their cell phone plans from within a traditional mobile app.  The app requires a great deal of OS integration, so don’t expect to use Zact with an iPhone in the near future.  The best part of Zact’s service is the realtime control (from the Zact app) of the phone’s access to the network, allowing remote shutoff of any app’s data access, and on-the-fly purchases of texts, minutes of talk, or data.  All of this is paired with a “pay for what you use” ethos that will issue refunds of the value of any unused purchases, even with purchases of unlimited service.  It will be interesting to see, with its deep OS integration, if Zact will enter the ad sphere, offering extremely immersive ad experiences as a part of certain service tiers.

Smartphone Shipments Overtake Feature Phones

For the first time ever, there are more shipments of Smartphones than feature phones worldwide in the first quarter of the year, according to a new report from IDC. There were 418.6 million mobile phones shipped worldwide in the March quarter, 216.2 million of which were Smartphones. Not only was this the first time that Smartphones outpaced feature phones, it was also the first time ever that Smartphones represented more than half of the global market. Smartphone shipments increased by more than 40% year-over-year. Much of the growth of Smartphone shipments are taking place in emerging markets like China, Brazil, and India, where the concept of a ‘phone’ as a device that simply makes calls is rapidly vanishing with these nations’ development. 

CES Through The Years

CES has grown from a small trade show in 1967 to the largest technology event of the year with approximately 150,000+ in attendance since 2005. Take a look at event photos through the years in a special feature from The Verge. The Lab will be covering the 2013 event starting Sunday, bringing you breaking news, featured interviews and product demos from the floor.

15 Most Overpriced Gadgets Of All Time

Everyone wants new gear, but how much is too much to spend? Gizmodo’s “15 Most Overpriced Gadgets of All Time” features appearances from some recent offenders, almost all of them tablets, including the Motorola Xoom ($1,079 with two year contract), and the BlackBerry Playbook ($499).  It also takes a look at some products of yesteryear with Apple’s Lisa, launched in 1983 for $10,000 (that’s $22,000 in 2011 dollars), and AT&T’s VideoPhone 2500 from 1992, which cost a whopping $1600.

Reports of CES’ death greatly exaggerated

The techie masses at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show seemed burdened by a general sense of disappointment. Minds were not blown. The digital firmament was not torn asunder. Wallets were not gripped tightly in fearful anticipation of the imminent need to drop a paycheck’s worth of earnings on the new must-have, show-stopping electronic object of lust.

Of course, there was still plenty to see and much technical wizardry on display, but we are a furiously jaded audience. The escalating pace of innovation has created an expectation that each new generation of products will create both terrified awe and wondrous delight. For example, it was a few short months ago that Microsoft started promising the future of gestural control via Kinect, a new peripheral for the Xbox 360. A completely new interface went from the pages of sci-fi to the pages of a Toys-R-Us sales circular overnight. Just four months after its release, few people seemed to crowd the Kinect booth. CES attendees don’t want amazing. We want new amazing.

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