Monday, May 4, 2015

Apple's New 12" MacBook



On the 9th of March, Apple introduced the new MacBook and with it gave us a glimpse at the direction they are going with their lineup of portable computers.  This spectacular new machine is an amazing 13.1mm thin, weighs in at 2lbs and features a stunning 12" 226 pixels per inch Retina display.  The laptop sports a revolutionary full-size, amazingly thin LED backlit keyboard.  And with thoughtful engineering and the latest microprocessor technology available from Intel, this Macbook is the first laptop computer Apple has released that does not have a fan.  Additionally, Apple has taken a cue from their popular iPod, iPhone and iPad product lines in making this latest MacBook available with traditional silver,  space gray and gold color options.

And what Apple product launch would be complete without a series of detractors and naysayers who take to their keyboards and publish post after post deriding the engineering decisions Apple has made.  It reminds me of when Apple dropped the floppy drive from their iMac lineup and the Internet erupted in a fury.  The denzines of the interwebs once again got their panties in the proverbial wad when Apple decided optical drives were no longer mandatory facets of their notebook lineup.  With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that neither of these decisions have had a negative impact on the Mac platform which has enjoyed quarter after quarter of Mac unit sales growth for years now - outpacing growth (or decline as it were) in the PC market.

Last year, I could no longer resist the siren call of the 15" retina model and it's screaming fast solid state storage options.  I will admit that I also purchased a USB SuperDrive as part of me felt as if I could not live without it.  After spending a year and two months with this amazing machine, I can count the number of times I have pulled the SuperDrive out of my Brenthaven Professional 17 Video Backpack on one hand. Each of those times, the only reason I used the DVD drive was to transcode a physical DVD movie I had purchased into a file I could load into our iTunes library.

More than anything, it seems people are lamenting the lack of ports on the new MacBook.  The new machine features a single USB Type-C port which is used to either connect to external peripherals or charge the notebook.  Apple does sell a number of different adapters for use with their newest notebook:

SanDisk has already announced a USB Type-C flash drive.  Amazon features a virtual cornucopia of USB Type-C hubs.  As time goes on, the market will respond with more and more products.  And from a portability perspective, is the lack of ports really that much of a problem?  When people do travel, are they really carting around a bunch of peripherals they need to plug into their computer?  And if they do, I suspect the case they are using to transport those peripherals will have enough room for a USB hub which will provide more than enough ports to suit their demanding needs.

Personally, I was disappointed to hear that the new USB Type-C port does NOT feature Apple's MagSafe technology.  As such, I speculate this translates into a slightly higher risk of pulling the laptop off the table where it is charging should you trip over the power cord when it is plugged in.  I do like the fact that the USB Type-C connector borrows from Apple's proprietary Lightning connector in that it is dual-sided, so there is no "wrong" way to insert the cable.  Finally, the USB Type-C port on Apple's newest portable supports the same data transfer rate as the first generation of USB 3.1 - five (5) gigabits per second (Gbps).  For reference purposes, the original Apple/Intel Thunderbolt connector supports a data transfer rate of ten (10) gigabits per second whereas the Thunderbolt 2 connector has a double the transfer capacity ringing in at a blazing twenty (20) gigabits per second.  

Does the average user really need the speed offered by a Thunderbolt 2 connection or is the MacBook's USB Type-C port's five (5) gigabits per second fast enough?  Most USB flash drives max out at around 800 megabits per second (mbps) data transfer rates - a fifth of the supported transfer rate of the USB Type-C port.  A traditional 7200RPM hard disk drive typically has a disk-to-buffer sustained data transfer rate of about 1,030 megabits per second (1.03 gigabits per second).  So five (5) gigabits per second still provides more than enough capacity to support the sustained data transfer rate of 7200 RPM hard drives.

The USB Type-C port on Apple's new MacBook provides sufficient capacity for all but the most demanding of computer users.  The main problem people will have is that their existing peripherals may not be able to plug into a USB Type-C port.  And if that's the case, there is an adapter for that.  Alternately, plug your non USB Type-C peripherals into a USB Hub and connect the hub to the MacBook with the aforementioned adapter.

I consider myself to be something of a power user.  My absolute favorite hobby is developing computer software.  As good fortune would have it, that also happens to be my chosen profession.  As such, I spend a considerable amount of the waking hours of the day working in either the Eclipse, Netbeans, or SQL Developer integrated developer environments writing and compiling code.  At times, I need to spin up a copy of Microsoft Wwindows in a Parallels Desktop virtual machine because much to my chagrin, there still are some products I need to use which are only available on the Windows platform (fortunately, that is becoming less and less of a problem every day).  Is the new Macbook enough "power" for me?

According to the Geekbench 3 processor benchmark developed by the fine folks over at Primate Labs, the new Macbook delivers about 65% of the single core and 38% of the multi-core computing capacity of my Late 2013 15" Retina MacBook Pro.

Late 2013 15" MacBook Pro Geekbench 3

Early 2015 12" MacBook Geekbench 3

I am not so certain that I would regularly experience any type of significant performance problem using the new MacBook as my machine really only consumes the majority of available CPU cycles when I'm compiling my code or using Handbrake to transcode video.

The number of ports isn't particularly troublesome for me.  As a general rule, when I am at home, I have my MacBook sitting in one of Just Mobile's AluRack (TM) mounted to the back of my 27" Cinema Display.  The USB hard disk drive I use as my Time Machine backup volume is plugged into the back of my Cinema Display.  As are my NeatDesk scanner and Epson Stylus Photo 2200 printer.  I use one of Apple's Wireless Keyboards as well as their amazing Magic Mouse as my primary input devices.  There is a single cable with three different connectors (MagSafe, DisplayPort, and USB) that runs from the back of my display and attaches to my computer.  Consolidating those three connectors down to a one would, in my opinion be a very good thing.

Connectivity is not a problem for the new MacBook.  The machine supports the state-of-the-art 802.11ac Wi-Fi specification along with Bluetooth 4.0.  There is no physical Ethernet port  on the device; however, I can say from personal experience that isn't something I really miss.  My MacBook Pro sits on the back of my Cinema Display most of the day and I connect to my home network using WiFi even though the gigabit ports on my AirPort Extreme base station are only about eighteen inches away.  

The only time I had felt compelled to physically plug my MacBook Pro into a network was when I would go into the office in a previous life.  Their wireless network was absolutely atrocious and it always befuddled me that a Fortune 500 company would have such a horrendous Wi-Fi network for their employees.  Of course, I also did all of my work on my personal MacBook Pro because it was vastly more capable than the brick that was issued to me and spent years Kensington locked underneath my desk.  That too was telling.

Suffice it to say that I do not believe the absence of a plethora of ports will be that much of a problem for this machine's target demographic.  This brings me to my final point which is that this machine is not designed for everyone.  Apple currently has eleven different models of Macintosh computers that make up six different product lines.
Almost all of the above mentioned Macintosh computers feature different sets of build to order components which you can use to further tailor your perfect Mac to suit your unique set of needs.  Apple even provides a handy little comparison tool that you can use to help determine which Mac is right for you.

The new MacBook is a stellar product.  It is super thin, features an amazing display, and it weighs next to nothing.  The system's processor is a state of the art chip from Intel that just sips power.  The meticulous focus on reduced power consumption coupled with Apple's unique battery design provides nine to ten hours of battery life!  I have no problem recommending this machine to most of the people in my life as I think it is more than capable of meeting the majority of people's needs.

If you want a physically bigger screen, faster (or more) CPU(s) or better graphics, then buy one of the other MacBooks Apple has available.  Those we entrust for providing us with a thoughtful analysis of the capabilities of a machine should not get caught up in their own hubris and deride a product simply because they feel it doesn't meet their unique set of needs.  They should realize that unlike the Ring of Power, there is no one computer that will rule them all.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Hello Left Hand, I'd Like You To Meet Right Hand

One of the best articles I read yesterday was "FCC Chairman Mocks Industry Claims That Customers Don't Need Faster Internet" by Jon Brodkin over on the ARS Technica site.  What elated me the most was how Chairman Wheeler used the industry's own words against them to refute their assertion that the then current state definition of broadband (4Mbps down/1Mbps up) was sufficient.  He noted how the industry's lobbying arm argued against redefining the minimum upload and download speeds a service must offer in order to qualify as broadband.  He then pointed out how each of the major ISPs fighting the updated minimum levels were ALL actively marketing speeds in excess of the new limits to their customers.  The telecommunications companies are upset because existing DSL services meet the old 4Mbps down/1Mbps up; however, they no longer qualify for the "broadband" moniker based upon the updated definition.

AT&T

AT&T offers high speed internet service via Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and U-verse.  AT&T's DSL comes in three flavors: 768kbps, 3Mbps and 6Mbps.  Their advertising page for DSL illustrates that a 4GB video file take more than 12 hours to download on the low tier, 3.1 hours to download on the middle tier and 1.3 hours to download on the "Xtreme 6.0" tier.    Their highest level of service is the ONLY level of service capable of serving up even a single HD video stream in real time.  The "AT&T U-verse High Speed Internet" product page lists service that begin with a 3Mbps service tier and continue with 6, 18 and 45 Mbps tiers. 

As of yesterday, AT&T can no longer claim their DSL service is "broadband" as it is no longer capable of meeting the new definition for minimum level of service.

Comcast

The "High Speed Internet from XFinity by Comcast" product page lists 6Mbps, 25Mbps, 50Mbps and 105Mbps service tiers.  Their description of the "Performance" tier service which offers download speeds of 25Mbps is good for streaming online video and sharing photos.  It is not until we get to the 50MBps "Blast!" tier where they start talking about streaming and downloading HD video content, gaming online and supporting households with three to five devices making use of the internet connection.

Time Warner Cable

Time Warner Cable has a nice little "WiFi*Denti*Fier" page which lets you "Dive in and Learn How You Can Enjoy the Internet Even Better".  They recommend a 15Mbps connection for a single person watching television, streaming video and using a computer online.  Add your significant other and one additional computer into the mix, and you're now better served by their 30Mbps tier.  Bumping their model up to a family of four, where each person has a computer, and you have two video streams and the "Ultimate" 100Mbps package is what you need.

Verizon

On Verizon's "Check Out the FiOS Experience" site, they describe the 25Mbps download tier as being good for normal, every day use if you live alone or perhaps share your connection with up to two people.  They describe usage such as web surfing, reading and responding to e-mail, online shopping and using social media.   They also indicate you can stream two high definition videos simultaneously.  The FiOS 50Mbps download tier is described as being the best for your family's day to day use allowing you to share photos and files quickly, enjoy online gaming and stream up to five high definition videos at the same time.  Verizon also features 75, 150, 300, and 500 Mbps plans.

Party Line Vote

What I also find telling is how the votes on re-definition of broadband followed party lines: Chairman Wheeler, Commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel voted in favor while Commissioners Pai and O'Reilly dissented.  Pai and O'Reilly are the two Republicans on the commission and they sided with the industry against updating the minimum requirements to qualify as "broadband" service.  The two Democratic commissioners sided with the Mr. Wheeler in support of the new definition.

O'Reilly argues that the FCC's report indicating a 25Mbps download service level is required for streaming 4K television supports a TV format that is "...not expected to be widely adopted for years to come."  As a counterpoint to Mr. O'reilly's assertion, I would like to cite a statement made back in March of last year by Barbara Kraus who is a Director of Research at Parks Associates.  In a their study entitled "4K Today: Bringing Ultra HD to Market", Ms. Kraus is credited with the following assertion:
The price curve for 4K TVs will be similar to that of HDTVs but at a slightly faster rate of decline. While 4K is priced at the high end now, it will decline to mass-market levels over the next two to three years. Like flat-panel HDTVs, 4K TV prices will continue to decline as unit sales volume increases.
A few months later in September, Marco Chiappetta describes how Vizio's launch of a its P-Series of 4K Ultra HD televisions with an entry level price point of $999 for a 50" television illustrates 4K televisions are closer to mainstream adoption.

Contrast this with Commissioner Rosenworcel asserts "[w]e invented the internet. We can do audacious things if we set big goals, and I think our new threshold, frankly, should be 100Mbps. I think anything short of that shortchanges our children, our future, and our new digital economy..." 

Summary

The cable and telephony duopoly are fighting against the FCC's recent moves to provide more oversight for the broadband internet market.  Their excuse is that it is incredibly expensive to maintain and upgrade their existing networks and FCC regulations would place an undue burden upon their shoulders.

To me, it isn't a question of the availability of funds but rather where these companies want to spend their money.   Comcast, for example, purchased AT&T's cable television business back in 2001 for $47 billion dollars.  They spent $4.8 billion to acquire MGM in 2004. In 2009, Comcast spent $30 billion dollars for a 51% stake in NBCUniversal.  Four years later, they spent an additional $16.7 billion to acquire the remaining 49%.

AT&T clearly has some extra funds available considering they agreed to Federal conditions on approval of their $48.5 billion dollar acquisition of DirecTV back in August.  A few months later, on the 7th of November, AT&T announced that they are going to acquire a Mexican wireless provider for $2.5 billion dollars.

Back in 2005, a book entitled "$200 Billion Broadband Scandal" was published.  The book outlines how during President Bill Clinton's tenure, there was an aggressive "National Infrastructure Initiative" to rewire ALL of America with fiber optic cable.  The Bell companies at the time agreed to step up to the plate and complete the work.  It is estimated that the Bell companies netted $206 billion dollars in excess profits and tax credits and in exchange, American Citizens got DSL.

The incumbent ISPs have demonstrated that they will only invest to improve their networks unless they are forced to.  Given the limited choices consumers have, they have little if any compelling reason to do so.  I applaud the FCC for taking steps to protect consumers and move to improve the current state of affairs in the broadband world!

References

Abrams, Rachael. "Comcast Hast History of Big Deals." New York Times. 13 Feb 2014. Web. 30 Jan 2015. <http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/02/13/comcast-has-history-of-big-deals/?_r=0>

AT&T. "AT&T to Acquire Mexico Wireless Provider Lusacel." 07 Nov 2014. Web. 30 Jan 2015. <http://about.att.com/story/att_to_acquire_mexico_wireless_provider_iusacell.html>

AT&T. "AT&T DSL Internet and Home Broadband Service." Web. 30 Jan 2015. <https://www.att.com/shop/internet/internet-service.html>

AT&T. "AT&T U-verse High Speed Internet." Web. 30 Jan 2015. <https://www.att.com/shop/internet/u-verse-internet.html>

Broken, Jon. "FCC Chairman Mocks Industry Claims That Customers Don't Need Faster Internet". ARS Technica. 29 Jan 2015. Web. 30 Jan 2015. <http://arstechnica.com/business/2015/01/fcc-chairman-mocks-industry-claims-that-customers-dont-need-faster-internet/>.

Chiappetta, Marco. "4K Ultra HD Inches Closer to Mainstream Adoption". Forbes. 29 Sep 2014. Web. 30 Jan 2015. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/marcochiappetta/2014/09/29/4k-utlra-hd-inches-closer-to-mainstream-adoption/>.

Federal Communications Commission. "FCC Finds U.S. Broadband Deployment Not Keeping Pace." 29 Jan 2015. Web. 30 Jan 2015. <http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2015/db0129/DOC-331760A1.pdf>.

Kosman, Josh. "AT&T Agrees to Conditions With Feds in $48.5B DirecTV Purchase." New York Post. 25 Aug 2014. Web. 30 Jan 2015. <http://nypost.com/2014/08/25/att-agrees-to-conditions-with-feds-in-48-5m-directv-purchase/>

Kushnick, Bruce. "The Book of Broken Promises: $400 Billion Broadband Scandal & Free the Net".  New Networks. 01 Oct 2014. Web. 30 Jan 2015. <http://newnetworks.com/bookofbrokenpromises.htm>.

Tretbar, Alex. "Study Projects 4K Will Expand Like HD, Only Faster". Digital Trends. 28 Mar 2014. Web. 30 Jan 2015. <http://www.digitaltrends.com/home-theater/4k-will-follow-path-similar-to-hd-growth-pattern-but-faster/>.

Parks Associates. "4K Today: Bringing Ultra HD to Market". 20 Mar 2014. Web. 30 Jan 2015. <http://www.parksassociates.com/bento/uploads/file/research/ParksAssoc-4K-SpecialResearch-TOC.pdf>

Verizon. "Check Out the FiOS Experience". Web. 30 Jan 2015. <http://www.verizon.com/home/fios/#fios-experience>


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Cavalcade of Dumb

Yesterday, Apple announced their financial results from the first quarter in their 2015 fiscal year.  It was good.  They announced a record $18.04 BILLION dollars in PROFIT for the quarter.  That is the most profit for a single quarter than any OTHER COMPANY IN THE WORLD. Ever!  Prior to this, the record was $16.2 billion reported by Russia's Gazprom.  The following are some of the other highlights are:

  • 74.5 million iPhones sold (best quarter ever)
  • 5.5 million Macintosh computers sold
  • App Store revenue up 41%
  • 21.42 million iPads sold

As Tim Cook noted, Apple was selling 34,000 iPhones an hour, twenty-four hours a day for EACH HOUR in the quarter.  Their gross margins were reported to be 39.9%.  The number of iPhones sold represent a 46% increase over the volume sold in the year-ago quarter.  The number of Macintosh computers was up 15% from the year-ago quarter.

But it's not all rosy.  iPad sales continued their downward sales trend - 21.42 million iPads represent an 18% decline from volume in the year ago quarter.  Have a look at the following illustration of iPad sales numbers by quarter since the iPad's release in the third fiscal quarter of 2010.


Disturbing, isn't it? 

Well, that is what some pundits and naysayers want you to believe.  They will insist with absolute conviction that  things are dire for the folks in Cupertino.  They will insist that Apple must take immediate action to address this manufactured "problem" facing the iPad line.  Add a stylus!  Release a "pro" version!  Drop the price! 

They just don't get it.

The iPad Air has a 98% customer satisfaction rating. 82% of all U.S. e-commerce transactions coming from tablets, came from iPads. More than 70% of all table-based web traffic comes from the iPad - according to Chitika. Of the iPads that are sold in the US, 50% go to new iPad buyers. In China over 70% of the iPad purchases are from new customers. According to IBM's review of point of sale data, iOS devices accounts for twice the online traffic and four times the commerce sales relative to Android-based devices.  Apple has sold a staggering 258.61 MILLION iPads.

iPad sales are down 18% from the year ago quarter.  Given that fact, they still delivered 21.42 MILLION iPads into the hands of consumers last quarter.  iPad usage is SIX TIMES that of its nearest competitor!

The iPad is just fine.  Apple's problem, if you can call it that, is exactly as Robert Cringely observed back in May of 2014 - the iPad is just made really, really well.  Apple does not include planned obsolescence in their products.  Apple's paramount concern is releasing the best product in a category.  Because of this, people tend to use their products for longer periods of time.

Half of the people buying iPads in the United States are buying their first iPad.  Since its inception, Apple has sold 258.61 MILLION iPads and the majority of those sales are going to NEW customers.  We do not know the average replacement cycle for iPads, but I would speculate that it is a lot closer to that of the Macintosh than it is to the iPhone.

Since 2002, because of my work as a consultant, my primary computer has been a laptop. On average, I get a new laptop every four years.  When I get a new laptop, the previous machine is used by other members of our family when they don't feel like sitting behind their desktops or when we travel.  Consequently, the useful life of a Macbook for our family is between seven and eight years.  The 17" Intel Core Duo Macbook I bought in 2006 is still actively being used by my father on a daily basis, so that machine is closing in on nine years of utility.

My wife used a 450Mhz G4 as her primary machine at home for about five years when it was replaced with a G5 PowerMac.  The two 1Ghz CPUs in the G5 desktop provided more than enough computing capacity to sustain her for seven years.  There was NOTHING that machine couldn't do!  The only reason we replaced the G5 with a 27" iMac was because the Adobe Creative Suite of products stopped supporting the PowerPC architecture.

I see our family's use of iPads following a similar trend.  I pre-ordered one of the first generation iPads the moment it went on sale in 2010.  When the second generation iPad came out in March of 2011, I ordered one of those because my wife and I discovered that any time one of us wanted to use the iPad, the other person had it.   For me, it seems that the iPad replacement cycle is two years and eight months because that is how long I waited before I got the iPad Air.  However, the second generation iPad is still used in our family on a daily basis so I would submit that it still has some legs.

In my opinion, there is still tremendous upside to the iPad story.  I do not believe Apple ever intended for the iPad to fully replace personal computers.  It will for some, but not for everyone.  What the iPad will do is replace traditional computers for people that only used computers for web surfing and light e-mail use.  Tablets in general and the iPad specifically afford us the opportunity to bring computing into more scenarios where a desktop or laptop computer may have been a cumbersome or awkward fit.

Speaking from personal experience, there is not a day that goes by where I do not use my iPad, iPhone and MacBook Pro.  Each device fills a specific need and purpose.

Still.  In spite all of this, there will be those who forsee a bumpy road ahead for Apple's tablet.  No volume of logic or reason will sway them from their pulpit of doom.  Perhaps someday they will be right.  After all, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

References

Cringely, Robert . "Apple's iPad Problem." I, Cringely. 19 May 2014. Web. 28 Jan 2015. <http://www.cringely.com/2014/05/19/apples-ipad-problem/>

Kumparak, Greg. "Apple Just Had the Most Profitable Quarter of Any Company Ever". Tech Crunch. 27 Jan 2015. Web. 28 Jan 2015. <http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/27/apple-just-had-the-biggest-quarterly-earnings-of-any-company-ever/>.

"Apple Earnings: 74.5M iPhones Sold, Record-Breaking Profit". GigaOm. 27 Jan 2015. Web. 28 Jan 2015. <https://gigaom.com/2015/01/27/apple-earnings-jan-2015/>

"Global Apple iPad Sales from 3rd Quarter 2010 to 1st Quarter 2015 (in million units)." Statista. 27 Jan 2015. Web. 28 Jan 2015. <http://www.statista.com/statistics/269915/global-apple-ipad-sales-since-q3-2010/>

"Notes of Interest from Apple's Q1 2015 Conference Call." AppleInsider. 27 Jan 2015. Web. 28 Jan 2015. <http://appleinsider.com/articles/15/01/27/notes-of-interest-from-apples-q1-2015-conference-call>

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Great Bandwidth Cap Boondoggle



Figure 1: Current Internet Usage Report
As of Monday, the 9th of January, our family was about to blow through Mediacom's 350GB data cap with 6 days left on the billing cycle. Over the past three months, our family's data usage has averaged 249.13GB per month. Our browsing habits have not changed dramatically this month; however, I did pick up the 50th Anniversary collection of all 23 James Bond films from iTunes and have been working to download those to my local media library.
Figure 2: Past Three Months Internet Usage
What makes me chuckle a bit is that according to Mediacom's Internet Usage page, the data I have consumed to date is equivalent to watching ninety-two (92) HD movies.

How Much Bandwidth Do I Need?
According to Giga OM, Netflix indicates that 1080p HD streaming video will use 4.7GB of data per hour.  Using that figure, 341.4 GB translates to 72.64 hours of 1080p video (which is the quality I choose). Using Mediacom's 2 hour run-time example coupled with Netflix's bandwidth recommendations, then my current usage 72.64 hours translates to 36 movies - NOT 92.

As Gizmodo reports, the picture gets even worse when you consider UltraHD (i.e., 4K video) which will use 4 times the amount of bandwidth as 1080p content - 18.8GB/hour. The new H.265 codec (which is not yet found in many consumer electronics devices) will drop streaming requirements for UltraHD video to 7GB/hour. Using the more efficient codec, the 350GB bandwidth cap will afford our family the opportunity to watch 25 UltraHD movies.

Take a look at this 2012 paper entitled "Capping the Nation’s Broadband Future?" which talks about how data caps have very little to do with network congestion. While traffic on US broadband network has increased, the cost to deliver that service is declining. Consequently, "...broadband is an incredibly profitable business, particularly for cable ISPs." In addition, "[t]iered pricing and data caps have also become a cash cow for the two largest mobile providers...".

The following are Internet Connection Speed Recommendations from Netflix:

  • 0.5 Mbps - Required to be broadband (under previous rules - now its 25mbps)
  • 1.5 Mbps (0.675 GB/h) - Recommended broadband connection speed
  • 3.0 Mbps (1.35 GB/h) - Recommended for SD quality
  • 5.0 Mbps (2.25 GB/h) - Recommended for HD quality
  • 25 Mbps (11.25 GB/h) - Recommended for Ultra HD quality

The Sound and Vision had a nice little infographic illustrating bandwidth requirements.  For 720p, they recommend 3.375 Mbps (1.52 GB/hour). For 1080p, they recommend 6.75 Mbps (3.04 GB/hour).
Mediacom's estimate on the number of movies that one can watch with 354.2 GB of bandwidth is 95. This equates to 1.86 GB/hour or 4.133 Mbps. Per the Netflix web site:
"HD availability is subject to your Internet service and device capabilities. Not all content is available in HD. A download speed of at least 5.0 Mbps per stream is recommended to receive HD content (defined as 720p or better), and you'll want to make sure the Netflix plan you're currently on allows streaming in HD. To see which plan you're on, visit the Change Streaming Plan page."
So Mediacom's estimate of 4.133 Mbps for HD quality is below what the leading purveyor of streaming media recommends. Even at those minimum rates, we are talking about 720p as a MINIMUM - not 1080p. Netflix stating that streaming 1080p video consumes 4.7 GB/hour equates to a 10.44 Mbps connection speed.

Mediacom's estimates for the number of HD movies one can watch with the bandwidth cap allocation is, in my opinion, overstated.

Exceeding the Additional Limit
By today  four days later, I've gone through another 50GB. In that time, I've downloaded the following movies from my iTunes account to my local computer. The only new movie that I purchase was John Wick - that came out digitally this morning at 12:00 AM.



This collection of movies did consume 45.15 GB of disk space. In addition, I did stream John Wick at 1080p (another 3.28GB). So there is no question in my mind that I used the bandwidth. But according to Mediacom's Internet Usage reports, 341.4GB is the equivalent of 92 HD movies. 399.1 GB of bandwidth is the equivalent of 107 HD movies - a difference of 15. Yet, 6 1080p HD movies consumed 45.15 GB of my bandwidth allocation.

At today's prices, buying those movies would cost me $93.94. Mediacom's policy is that once you hit your quota, every block of bandwidth over 50GB is an additional $10. So effectively, there is a 10.6% tax levied on the purchase of each movie.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I did get an automated e-mail message from Mediacom indicating that since this is the first time I've exceeded my bandwidth cap, I won't be charged for the initial overage.


Figure 3: Important Usage Notice
It is just infuriating as a consumer especially when you consider, according to analysis performed by Nate Anderson from ARS Technica, that ISP costs and current state revenues do not justify the need for bandwidth caps.

Let's Examine the ISP's Costs
Up until I made a change to my account back in August, they used to itemize the costs of the different services. Now it's buried into one package price. I'm still using the EXACT same services as I was - they're just being billed differently. When they itemized the bill, the package price for the 25Mbps download rate that I have is $49.95. This works out to be $0.14/GB. Bandwidth becomes more expensive when you go over your quota - then it's $0.20/GB. You have to push the electrons EXTRA hard when you're over your quota.

Since I don't really know what fees ISPs incur for Internet transit, I'm going to use some analysis of what it costs Netflix to stream movies across the Internet. I'll reference the "Stream This!: Netflix's Streaming Costs" article from July of 2009 published on the Streaming Media! At that time, it was estimated that Netflix paid their transit providers $0.03 per GB to relay a movie across the Internet. So the 1080p version of John Wick that I watched this afternoon (which rings in at a whopping 3.28GB) would cost 9.84 cents to convey across the Internet - in 2009.

According to the "Internet Transit Prices - Historical and Projected" article featured on the Dr. Peering web site, average transit costs in 2009 started at $9/Mbps (discounted from there based upon volume).  For 2015, Dr. Peering reports that transit pricing runs at $0.63/Mbps - a 93% reduction from what costs were in 2009. Assuming all other things remain equal, the 3.28GB HD movie that would cost 9.84 cents to convey across the Internet in 2009 would cost 0.69 cents today or .21 cents/GB.

Using this as an example, let's consider my monthly allocation of bandwidth of 350GB. We'll assume that ALL that data comes from outside my ISP's network and is NOT available from any peering partners so Internet transit, the most expensive form of bandwidth, must be used to get it on my behalf. 350 GB multiplied by $0.0021 per gigabyte would cost the ISP $0.735 in transit costs.

Assuming I use my full allocation of bandwidth each and every month, the $49.95/month I pay for my high speed Internet service would leave $49.22 to cover ALL other overhead associated with providing my service and profit which the ISP does deserve to earn.

Mediacom charges $10/50GB in excess of your data cap. Assuming the cost basis is accurate, that 50GB of excess bandwidth costs Mediacom $0.105 in Transit fees leaving - $9.895 to cover profit and overhead.

Seems like it's good to be in the last-mile ISP business!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Misguided Attempts by CVS and Rite Aid To Subvert Market Adoption of Apple Pay

I agree with Kevin Tofel’s summation of the current CVS and RiteAid decision to wholesale disable the NFC capabilities of their point of sale equipment because they are supporting the merchant-supported MCX platform called CurrentC.
Companies disabling their existing NFC retail terminals just to blunt momentum from Apple Pay or Google Wallet are being shortsighted and are creating a situation that could very well backfire on them. 
- Kevin Tofel
Slash Gear has posted a copy of an internal memorandum that was distributed by Rite Aid management which states the following:
Please note that we do not accept Apple Pay at this time. However we are currently working with a group of large retailers to develop a mobile wallet that allows for mobile payments attached to credit cards and bank accounts directly from a smart phone. We expect to have this feature available in the first half of 2015. 
If customers attempt to pay for a transaction with Apple Pay, a message will prompt both customer and cashier for a different form of payment. Please instruct cashiers to apologize to the customer and explain that we do not currently accept Apple Pay, but will have our own mobile wallet next year.
The Wall Street Journal covered how the Merchant Customer Exchange was first announced more than two years ago - back on the 9th of August 2012.  And this consortium has been trudging away at cobbling together a solution that they have yet to bring to market.  The $5 billion lawsuit Wal-mart filed against Visa Inc likely goes to the heart of the motivation behind MCX (of which Wal-mart is a founding member) and CurrentC.  In Paul Ausick's "CVS Follows Rite Aid, Shuts Off Apple Pay" article, Mike Dudas' Tweet relays that Lee Scott, the former CEO of Wal-mart from January 2000 to January 2009, is reported to have said "I don’t know that MCX will succeed, and I don’t care. As long as Visa suffers." Merchants are looking for a way to eliminate the interchange fees they pay to banks and credit card processors which they currently pass on to consumers.  Their justification is that if the interchange fees are eliminated, then they can reduce their prices by an additional 1.5% to 2.5%.
What I find amusing is how hypocritical the actions CVS and Rite Aid have taken. Consider the following excerpt from the MCX web site.
No-one likes to have their choices limited. So we are building in the freedom to pay using a variety of financial accounts, including personal checking accounts, merchant gift cards and select credit and debit accounts. 
- Davidsond, Dekkers
So members of the MCX are actively prohibiting a method of payment that their customers actually want to use because it stands in conflict to a payment system they support which. They are actively denying their customers access to Apple Pay - a system that has been described as “…the most secure PAYMENTS scheme on the planet.” [Notes]
I guess the “freedom” the MCX wants to protect is the luxury of being able to choose exactly which method CurrentC will use to gain access to your checking account.  Any benefit to consumers that result from participation in the CurrentC is simply fodder for use marketing the service to consumers. Another benefit to participating merchants is that MCX plans to build a profile of consumers and their purchases processed through the system.  Just look at the pitch points for CurrentC:
Thoughtful customer relationship management 
Protect and leverage valuable data to offer your customers better experiences and interactions throughout the path to purchase. 
Secure transactions and customer data storage 
Safeguard every customer transaction through industry-leading security and technology. 
Prominent marketing and product integration 
Integrate your loyalty programs and promotions to provide relevant experiences for your most valuable customers.
MCX pitches CurrentC to vendors under the pretense that they will be able to customer transactions for information they can use to market products to those very customers.
Contrast this with Apple’s pitch to consumers for Apple Pay:
Keep your purchases private. 
Apple doesn’t save your transaction information. With Apple Pay, your payments are private. Apple Pay doesn’t store the details of your transactions so they can’t be tied back to you. Your most recent purchases are kept in Passbook for your convenience, but that’s as far as it goes.
For a more detailed thrashing of CurrentC, have a look at the tech crunch “CurrentC Is The Big Retailers’ Clunky Attempt To Kill Apple Pay And Credit Card Fees” article.
References




Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thoughts on  Pay Adoption

[2015-01-20: Updated to reflect additional banks, vendors, and apps.]
[2014-12-19: Updated to reflect additional bank, vendor and iOS app support.]
[2014-10-23: Updated to reflect Visa's and Mastercard's announcement of supported banks]
[2014-10-20: Updated to reflect additional vendors committed to supporting Apple Pay based upon information conveyed during Apple's iPad and Mac announcements on October 16th]


I've read through a number of articles that talk about how there are merchants that have no plans to actively support  Pay and it made me wonder why and whether or not it will matter.

Both Appleinsider and Macrumors have articles outlining how there are some retailers who have expressed unwillingness to support  Pay.  Both sites describe how Best Buy and Walmart have come out and stated they have no plans to support  Pay.  Both Appleinsider and Macrumors talk about how Best Buy and Walmart are supporting a separate effort, the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) (http://www.mcx.com) which was announced back in August of 2012.  It is worth noting that MCX is an out-of-network payment system that eliminates banks from the transaction scope.  This stands in stark contrast to the strategy adopted by Apple in which they have actively been working with banks and credit card networks since January of 2013.

Apple may well have timed the release of  Pay well given the fact that, as Pandodaily notedEuropay Mastercard Visa (EMV) standard for credit cards equipped with microchips are going to become the standard in October 2015.  After October 2015, vendors that DO NOT accept EMV certified cards will be liable for any fraudulent purchases made with counterfeit or stolen credit cards.  As such, vendors that are not on board with EMV-compatible card readers will bear more of the risk of fraud.  It stands to reason, as noted by Datacard Edge, that as vendors will be required to install new credit card reading terminals to support the forthcoming EMV standard, it is likely they would opt to support contactless payment technologies such as NFC.  So these vendors who are actively going on record as not being interested in supporting  Pay may well end up supporting Apple's new service indirectly.  In the "Use Apple Pay in these stores" section of Apple's Apple Pay web site indicates that any point of sale system that features the following "EMVCo Contactless Symbol Mark".


In addition, vendors such as Target who are members of the Merchant Customer Exchange have indicated that they will support Apple pay through in their iOS application.  And restaurants that are a part of the "Pay with Open Table" initiative will indirectly be supporting Apple Pay through OpenTable's support of the payment system.  If you consider the table below, there are fifty-eight (58) members of the Merchant Customer Exchange which does not necessarily preclude them from supporting Apple Pay.  There are five hundred twenty-six (526) vendors and banks that have committed to support Apple Pay directly (or via partnership with Visa and MasterCard), and 199 vendors who will feature Apple Pay support via their app (or indirectly via Open Table's app).

I think the chances it will give the mobile payments initiative a BIG push are pretty good.


Merchant/Bank MCX  Pay  Pay
via App
!Ay Chiwowa (via OpenTable)

1st Colonial Community Bank

1st Community Federal Credit Union

20Stamps

25 Lusk (via OpenTable)

7-Eleven

76

A la bonne franquette (via OpenTable)

A+ Federal Credit Union

A16 Rockridge (via OpenTable)

Acabar (via OpenTable)

Acme (via OpenTable)

Acme Fresh Market

Actors Federal Credit Union

Advantage Federal Credit Union

Advantage One Federal Credit Union

AĆ©ropostale

Affinity Federal Credit Union

Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union

Agave (via OpenTable)

Aggio (via OpenTable)

Airbnb

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union

Albertsons

Alliant Credit Union

Alon

ALPS Federal Credit Union

Alternatives Federal Credit Union

Altra Federal Credit Union

Amarillo National Bank

Amaro Bistro (via OpenTable)

Amegy Bank National Association

America First Credit Union

America’s Christian Credit Union

America’s Credit Union

American Airlines

American Airlines Federal Credit Union

American Chartered Bank

American Eagle Outfitters


American Express

American Flatbread Tribeca Hearth (via OpenTable)

American Heritage Bank

American National Bank of Texas, The

American Savings Bank

AmeriCU Credit Union

Andanada (via OpenTable)

Andrews Federal Credit Union

Anthropologie

APCO Employees Credit Union

Apple Store
Applebee's

Aretsky’s Patroon (via OpenTable)

Arlington Community Federal Credit Union

Artisan House (via OpenTable)

Artisanal Fromagerie Bistro & Wine Bar (via OpenTable)

Artisans Bank

Arvest Bank

Associated Bank

Atlantic Grill (via OpenTable)

Auburn Bank

Avidbank

Babies ‘R Us

Bahama Breeze

Banana Republic

Bancorp Bank, The

Bank of America

Bank of Colorado

Bank of Greene County, The

Bank of Hawaii

Bank of Idaho

Bankers Trust Company

Bankers Trust Company – Cedar Rapids

BankIowa

Bar Tartine (via OpenTable)

Barbounia (via OpenTable)

Barclaycard

Bask (via OpenTable)

Baskin Robins

Baton Rouge Telco Federal Credit Union

Baxter Credit Union

Bay Atlantic Federal Credit Union

BB&T

BCM Federal Credit Union

Bed Bath & Beyond

Bellco Credit Union

Bellwether Community Credit Union

Belmont Bank & Trust

Benoit Restaurant and Bar (via OpenTable)

Best Buy

Bestia (via OpenTable)

Bethpage Federal Credit Union

Bi Lo

Bierhaus

Big Daddy’s (via OpenTable)

Bill’s Bar & Burger (via OpenTable)

Bisou (via OpenTable)

BJ’s

Black Hills Federal Credit Union

Blackhawk Community Credit Union

Bloomingdale’s

Blue Hill at Stone Barns (via OpenTable)

Blue Plate (via OpenTable)

Blue Water Grill (via OpenTable)

BMI Federal Credit Union

Boeing Employee Credit Union

BofI Federal Bank

Bottlefork (via OpenTable)

Boulder Dam Credit Union

Boxing Room (via OpenTable)

Branch Banking and Trust Company

Brazos Valley Schools Credit Union

Brown County State Bank

buybuy Baby

Cafe Bastille (via OpenTable)

Cafe Cluny (via OpenTable)

Cafe Luxembourg (via OpenTable)

California Bank & Trust

Camboni (via OpenTable)

Cambridge Trust Company

Camden National Bank

Campus USA Credit Union

Capital City Bank

Capital Grille, The

Capital One

Capitol Credit Union

Capitol Federal Savings Bank

Cardinal Bank

Cardinal Community Credit Union

Cascade Federal Credit Union

Cassis (via OpenTable)

Centra Credit Union

Central Florida Educators Federal Credit Union

Central Keystone Federal Credit Union

Central Valley Community Bank

Chairish

Chambers Eat + Drink (via OpenTable)

Champs Sports

Changing Seasons FCU

Charish

Charter Oak Federal Credit Union

Chase

Cheektowaga Community Federal Credit Union

Cheff Geoff’s (via OpenTable)

Chevron

Chevron Federal Credit Union

Chilli’s

China Grill (New York) (via OpenTable)

Chippewa County Credit Union

Choquet’s (via OpenTable)

Chouquet’s (via OpenTable)

Christian Community Credit Union

Christmas Tree Shops

Circle K

Circo (via OpenTable)

Citi

Citizens and Farmers Bank

City Crab & Seafood Company (via OpenTable)

City National Bank

City National Bank of New Jersey

Clearview Federal Credit Union

CME Federal Credit Union

Coast Central Credit Union

Coastal Federal Credit Union

CoastalStates Bank

CoastHills Credit Union

Coastline Federal Credit Union

Colicchio & Sons (via OpenTable)

Columbia Bank

Columbine Federal Credit Union

Comenity Bank

Comenity Capital Bank

Commerce Bank

Commonwealth Credit Union

CommonWealth One Federal Credit Union

Community & Southern Bank

Community America Credit Union

Community Bank of Pleasant Hill

Community Bank of Raymore

Community Choice Credit Union

Community Credit Union of Florida

Community First Credit Union

Community First Credit Union of Florida

Compass Bank

Connex Credit Union

Conoco

Conservation Employees’ Credit Union

Consumers Credit Union – Illionois

Copper Canyon Grill (via OpenTable)

Coulee Dam Federal Credit Union

County Educators Federal Credit Union

CoVantage Credit Union

Cozymel’s Mexican Grill (via OpenTable)

CPM Federal Credit Union

Craft (via OpenTable)

Craft Los Angeles (via OpenTable)

Craftbar (via OpenTable)

Cross Keys Bank

CTECU

Customers Bank

CVS/pharmacy

Cyprus Federal Credit Union

D4 Irish Pub and Cafe (via OpenTable)

Dapper

Dealflicks Movies

Deer Valley Credit Union

Del Campo (via OpenTable)

Del-One Federal Credit Union

Denver Community Credit Union

Denver Fire Department Federal Credit Union

Desert First Federal Credit Union

DFCU Financial

Diablo Valley Federal Credit Union

Dick's Sporting Goods

Digital Federal Credit Union

Dillard's

Directions Credit Union

Disney Store
Dort Federal Credit Union

Dos Caminos (via OpenTable)

DOSA on Fillmore (via OpenTable)

Drync

Duane Reade

Duck Inn, The (via OpenTable)

Duke’s (via OpenTable)

Dunkin' Donuts

Dupaco Community Credit Union

DuPage Credit Union

DuPont Community Credit Union

Dutch Point Credit Union

Dutch, The (via OpenTable)

E Federal Credit Union

East & West at Yotel New York

East River Federal Credit Union

East Texas Professional Credit Union

East Wisconsin Savings Bank

Eastman Credit Union

Ed’s Chowder House

Eddie V's Prime Seafood

Educators Credit Union

Eli Lilly Federal Credit Union

Employees Credit Union

EN Jamanese Brasserie (via OpenTable)

EN Japanese Brasserie (via OpenTable)

ESL Federal Credit Union

Evansville Federal Credit Union

Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union

Eventbrite

Evergreen Credit Union

ExtraMile

ExxonMobil

F&A Federal Credit Union

Face Values

Fairfax County Federal Credit Union

Fairwinds Credit Union

Family Meal (via OpenTable)

Fancy

Farm Bureau Bank

Farmers Bank

Farmhouse Tavern (via OpenTable)

Fidelity Deposit & Discount Bank

Fifth Third (via Mastercard)

Fifth Third Bank

Fig & Olive (via OpenTable)

Financial Plus Credit Union

First Atlantic Federal Credit Union

First Bank and Trust Company

First Bank of Dalton

First Citizens’ Federal Credit Union

First Class American Credit Union

First Community Credit Union

First Credit Union

First Entertainment Credit Union

First Federal Savings Bank

First Fidelity Bank N.A.

First Financial Bank NA Cincinnati

First Financial Credit Union (CA)

First Financial Credit Union (IL)

First Florida Credit Union

First Hawaiian (via Mastercard)

First International Bank and Trust

First National Bank

First National Bank of Bosque County

First National Bank of Omaha

First National Bank of Omaha (via Mastercard)

First National Bank of Ottawa, The

First National Bank of Pontotoc

First National Bank-Arcadia LA

First Niagara (via Mastercard)

First Northern Credit Union

First Technology Federal Credit Union

First Tennessee Bank

First Utah Bank

Firstbank

Flextrip

FNB Community Bank

Food Maxx

Foot Locker

Footaction

Fort Worth City Credit Union

Fort Worth Community Credit Union

Founders Federal Credit Union

Fourth, The (via OpenTable)

Frankies 570 Sputino (via OpenTable)

Franklin Room, The (via OpenTable)

Free People

Free Printss

Freedom First Credit Union

Fremont Bank

Frost Bank

Gametime

Gap

Garcon (via OpenTable)

GE Credit Union

Generations Community Federal Credit Union

Georgia Brown’s (via OpenTable)

GetGo

Giant Eagle

Giant Eagle Express

Giant Eagle Market District

Golden 1 Credit Union, The

Golden Plains Credit Union

Goldenwest Federal Credit Union

GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine

Good Cents

Great Basin FCU

Greater Iowa Credit Union

Greater Nevada Credit Union

Grotta Azzurra (via OpenTable)

Groupon

Gruner (via OpenTable)

GTE Federal Credit Union

Guaranty Bank & Trust Company

Guaranty Bank & Trust, N.A.

Gulf Coast Bank and Trust Company

Gulf Coast Educators Federal Credit Union

Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union

H

Hartford Healthcare Federal Credit Union

Harveys Supermarket

Hawaii County Employees Federal Credit Union

Hawaii State Federal Credit Union

Healthcare Systems Federal Credit Union

Heartland Federal Credit Union

Heinz-Del Monte Federal Credit Union

Henrico Federal Credit Union

Heritage Community Credit Union

Heritage Grove Federal Credit Union

Highmark Federal Credit Union

Hiway Federal Credit Union

HMS Host

Hobby Lobby

Honda Federal Credit Union

Honesdale National Bank, The

Hotel Tonight

House of Hoops by Foot Locker

Houston Texas Fire Fighters Federal Credit Union

Houzz

Hubbard (via OpenTable)

Hudson River Community Credit Union

Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union

Hughes Federal Credit Union

Huntington Federal Savings Bank

HyVee

Iberiabank

Idaho Central Credit Union

Il Bistro (via OpenTable)

Il Buco (via OpenTable)

Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria (via OpenTable)

Il Fornaio - San Francisco (via OpenTable)

ilili (via OpenTable)

Illiana Financial Credit Union

Illinois National Bank

Illinois State Police Federal Credit Union

Indiegogo

Innovations Federal Credit Union

INOVA Federal Credit Union

Instacart

iQ Credit Union

J. Paul’s (via OpenTable)

J.P. Morgan

Jack’s Sliders and Sushi (via OpenTable)

Jackthreads

Jaleo Crystal City (via OpenTable)

Jardiniere (via OpenTable)

Jax Federal Credit Union

Jewel Osco

John Barleycorn (via OpenTable)

Johns Hopkins Federal Credit Union

JoJo (via OpenTable)

Justice Federal Credit Union

Kane County Teachers Credit Union

Keep Shopping

Keesler Federal Credit Union

Kemba Credit Union

Kent Credit Union

Key Bank (via Mastercard)

KeyPoint Credit Union

Kids Foot Locker

Kinetic Credit Union

Kirtland Federal Credit Union

Kmart

Kohl's

Kum & Go

L&N Federal Credit Union

La Caraquena Latin American Cuisine (via OpenTable)

La Terre Federal Credit Union

La Toscana Ristorante (via OpenTable)

Lady Foot Locker

Lafayette (via OpenTable)

Lake Michigan Credit Union

Lake Sunapee Bank

Landmark Credit Union

Langley Federal Credit Union

Laramie Plains Community Federal Credit Union

Le Cirque (via OpenTable)

Lecosho (via OpenTable)

Legend Bank NA

Levi’s Stadium

Liberty Savings Bank, F.S.B.

Library at the Public - Joe’s Pub, The (via OpenTable)

Library of Congress Federal Credit Union

LIFX

Lincoln (via OpenTable)

Listerhill Credit Union

Locande Verde (via OpenTable)

Lone Star State Bank of West Texas

Longhorn Steakhouse

Los Angeles Federal Credit Union

Loulay (via OpenTable)

Lowe's 

Lucky

Lure + Till (via OpenTable)

Luther Burbank Savings

Lyft

M&T Bank

Macy’s

Maggiano's 

Maloney & Porcelli (via OpenTable)

Marine Bank & Trust

Marion & Polk Schools Credit Union

Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges, The (via OpenTable)

Market District Express

Market Street Grill (via OpenTable)

MassMutual Federal Credit Union

Mastercard

McDonald’s

McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union

McHenry County Federal Credit Union

Meadows Bank

Meadows Credit Union

Meijer

Meijer Credit Union

Mendo Lake Credit Union

Menlo Grill Bistro & Bar (via OpenTable)

Mercantile Bank

Mercantile Bank of Michigan

Mercer Kitchen (via OpenTable)

Merchbar - Merch & Vinly

Merck Employees Federal Credit Union

Merco Credit Union

Meridian Trust Federal Credit Union

Merrill Lynch

Merrimack Valley Credit Union

Michaels

Michigan State University Federal Credit Union

Michigan Tech Employees Federal Credit Union

Mid-Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union

MidFirst Bank

Midflorida Credit Union

MidState Federal Credit Union

Miller’s Guild (via OpenTable)

Mississippi National Guard Federal Credit Union

Mississippi Telco Federal Credit Union

Missoula Federal Credit Union

Missouri Bank

MLB.com

MLB.com Ballpark

Moe’s Cantina (via OpenTable)

Montgomery County Federal Credit Union

Mountain America Credit Union

Mountain Credit Union

Mountain Valley Bank

Municipal Credit Union

My Goods Market

NAPUS Federal Credit Union

NASA Federal Credit Union

National Bank & Trust Company of Sycamore, The

National Bank of Arizona

National Bar & Dining Rooms, The (via OpenTable)

National Institutes of Health Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union

Neighborhood Credit Union

Nevada State Bank

New England Federal Credit Union

New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union

New Yorker Restaurant (via OpenTable)

Nike

NJ Gateway Federal Credit Union

Northeast Credit Union

Northwest Federal Credit Union

Nostrana (via OpenTable)

Novartis Federal Credit Union

Nucor Employee’s Credit Union

NuMark Credit Union

Numerica Credit Union

Nymeo Federal Credit Union

Obica - Mozzarella Bar (via OpenTable)

Ocean Grill (via OpenTable)

Odeon, The (via OpenTable)

Office Depot

Old Glory (via OpenTable)

Old Navy

Old Point National Bank

Olive Garden

One Bank & Trust, N.A.

One Nevada Credit Union

Ontario-Montclair School Employees Federal Credit Union

Open Table

Oregonians Federal Credit Union

Otero Federal Credit Union

Pacific Community Credit Union

Pacific Enterprise Bank

Pacific NW Federal Credit Union

Pacific Postal Credit Union

Paducah Bank and Trust Company, The

Panera Bread
Paolo’s Ristorante (via OpenTable)

Park Bistro & Bar, The (via OpenTable)

Parlin DuPont Employees Federal Credit Union

Partners 1st Federal Credit Union

Partners Federal Credit Union

Pasadena Federal Credit Union

Patelco Credit Union

Paulaner Brauhaus & Restaurant (via OpenTable)

Peapack Gladstone Bank

Pearl and Ash (via OpenTable)

PenFed (Pentagon Federal Credit Union)

Penn East Federal Credit Union

People’s Community Federal Credit Union

People’s Trust Federal Credit Union

Peoples Bank

Peoples Choice Credit Union

Permier Community Credit Union

Perry St (via OpenTable)

Petco

Petsmart

Petty Cash Taqueria (via OpenTable)

Phillips 66

Piccino (via OpenTable)

Pima Federal Credit Union

Ping Pong Dim Sum (via OpenTable)

Pinnacle Bank

Pinnacle Bank Sioux City

Pinnacle Bank Texas

Pinnacle Bank Wyoming

Pittsford Federal Credit Union

Plouf (via OpenTable)

PM Prime (via OpenTable)

PNC

Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union

Portland Prime (via OpenTable)

Pose

Postmates

Prasino (via OpenTable)

Premier Community Bank

Premier Credit Union

Premier Members Federal Credit Union

Prestige Community Credit Union

Priceline Hotels, Flights and Cars

Pricerite

Prime Meats (via OpenTable)

PrimeTrust Financial Federal Credit Union

Print Studio

Priority One Credit Union

Proponent Federal Credit Union

Provident Credit Union

Publix

Pulaski Bank

Pump Room (via OpenTable)

Purdue Federal Credit Union

Pyramid Federal Credit Union

Quality Italian (via OpenTable)

QuikTrip

RaceTrac

Radioshack

Radius - San Francisco (via OpenTable)

RadPad

Range (via OpenTable)

Redwood Credit Union

Regions Bank

Reliant Federal Credit Union

Revival Bar+Kitchen (via OpenTable)

Riegel Federal Credit Union

RingSide Fish House (via OpenTable)

RingSide Steakhouse (via OpenTable)

RiteAid Pharmacy

River Valley Credit Union

Rivermark Community Credit Union

Roanoke Valley Community Credit Union

Rockit Bar & Grill (via OpenTable)

Roofers Union (via OpenTable)

Royal Credit Union

Ruby Foo’s (Times Square) (via OpenTable)

Run by Foot Locker

Sabine Federal Credit Union

Sacramento Credit Union

Sage - A Plant Based Bistro (via OpenTable)

Salal Credit Union

Sam's Club

San Diego Firefighters FCU

San Francisco Federal Credit Union

San Francisco Fire Credit Union

San Mateo Credit Union

Sandia Area Federal Credit Union

Sauce: Belden (via OpenTable)

Save Mart

Savings Bank of Danbury

Schools Financial Credit Union

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union

Scient Federal Credit Union

Sears

Seasons 52

Seasons Federal Credit Union

SeatGeek Tickets

Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union

Security Service Federal Credit Union

Sephora
Service Credit Union

Seven Seventeen Credit Union, Inc.

Shaws

Sheetz

Shell

ShopRite

Short Order (via OpenTable)

Silicon Valley Bank (via Mastercard)

Simmons First National Bank

Siouxland Federal Credit Union

six:02

SkyOne Federal Credit Union

Smith & Wollensky (New York) (via OpenTable)

Sonoma County Grange Credit Union

Sons of Essex (via OpenTable)

Sooper Credit Union

Sosh

South Carolina Federal Credit Union

South Florida Educational Federal Credit Union

South Metro Credit Union

Southern Federal Credit Union

Southern Hospitality (via OpenTable)

Southern Mississippi Federal Credit Union

Southwest

Southwest 66 Credit Union

SPIRE Credit Union

Spokane Teachers Credit Union

Sports Authority

SpotHero

Spring

SSFCU (via Mastercard)

St. Vincent (via OpenTable)

Staley Credit Union

Standard Grill, The (via OpenTable)

Staples
Star Market


Star Tech Federal Credit Union

Star USA Federal Credit Union

Starbucks

Starwood

State Bank of Chilton

State Department Federal Credit Union

State Employees Credit Union of Maryland, Inc.

State Highway Patrol Federal Credit Union

Statewide Federal Credit Union

Stayful

Stockman Bank of Montana

Stones Throw (via OpenTable)

Stubhub!

Subway

Summit Credit Union

Summit Federal Credit Union, The

Suncoast Credit Union

Sunda (via OpenTable)

Sunoco

SunTrust

Sussex County Federal Credit Union

Synchrony Bank

Synchrony Financial (via Mastercard)

Tamarind (Tribeca) (via OpenTable)

Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union

Target
TCF National Bank

TD Bank N.A.

Tech Credit Union

Technology Credit Union

Teddy & The Bully Bar (via OpenTable)

Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union

Tete Charcuterie (via OpenTable)

Texaco

Texas Bank and Trust

Texas Capital Bank

Texas First Bank

Texas Telcom Credit Union

ThirdLove

Threadflip

Three Restaurant & Bar (via OpenTable)

Ticketmaster

tickets.com

Tomah Area Credit Union

Torrington Municipal & Teachers FCU

TouchOfModern

Town and Country Bank

Toys ‘R Us

Transportation FCU

Tray Kitchen (via OpenTable)

Trenchermen (via OpenTable)

Trona Valley Community Federal Credit Union

Trou Normand (via OpenTable)

True North Federal Credit Union

TruMark Financial Credit Union

Tucson Federal Credit Union

U-Mass Five College Federal Credit Union

U.S. Bank

U.S. Trust

Uber

Ume Federal Credit Union

Uncle Credit Union

UniBank For Savings

Union Sushi + Barbecue Bar (via OpenTable)

Unite Urban Grill (via OpenTable)

United Community Bank

United Federal Credit Union

United Nations Federal Credit Union

United Southern Bank

United Supermarkets

University Credit Union

University Federal Credit Union

University First Federal Credit

University of Toledo Federal Credit Union

unleashed by Petco

Urban Outfitters

US Bank

US Bank (via Mastercard)

US Community Credit Union

USAA

USAlliance Federal Credit Union

USF Federal Credit Union

Utah Federal Credit Union

Utah First Federal Credit Union

Utah Power Credit Union

UW Credit Union

Vectrabank Colorado National Association

Vera (via OpenTable)

Veridian Credit Union

Vermont State Employees Credit Union

Virginia Credit Union

Visa

Vons Employees Federal Credit Union

VyStar Credit Union

Walgreens

Walmart

Walt Disney World

Wanigas Credit Union

Washington Community FCU

Washio

Wawa

Wegmans

Wells Fargo

Wendy's 

Weokie Credit Union

WesBanco Bank

Wescom Credit Union

Westmoreland Community Federal Credit Union

Whole Foods

Wings Financial Credit Union

Winn Dixie

Winthrop Area Federal Credit Union

Winthrop-University Hospital Employees Federal Credit Union

Wood & Huston Bank

Wood & Vine (via OpenTable)

Wright Patman Congressional Federal Credit Union

Yard House

Yolo Federal Credit Union

York Educational FCU

Zia Credit Union

Zions First National Bank

Total 63 526 199
725