Alltel, the fifth-largest wireless carrier in the U.S., isn't afraid of its much larger competitors. On the contrary. It pokes fun at the...

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Alltel, the fifth-largest wireless carrier in the U.S., isn’t afraid of its much larger competitors.


On the contrary. It pokes fun at the big four — Cingular Wireless, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA — on a Web page introducing its “My Circle” service, which allows users to make unlimited calls to 10 people.


Over the shoulder of an Alltel representative stand four small animated men. To hear what they have to say, all you have to do is click.


The first guy, dressed in the Cingular orange, steps forward and says: “If you ask me, circles are for needy people, the only friend I need is me.”


The Verizon guy, in a red shirt, says: “Who wants to talk to people outside the network anyway? That sounds like something my mom would tell me to do.”


The third guy, a Jack Black look-alike dressed in yellow, says: “You know, ever since the merger with Nextel, we have a lot going on. I mean, why would you want to be burdened by the circle when you can play with walkie-talkies? Anyone up for a game of cops and robbers?”


And, finally, T-Mobile, which is launching a similar service today that allows free calling to five numbers, gets a chance to offer its two cents. The guy in the magenta shirt steps forward and says: “Why call 10 numbers for free, when you can call five?”



Home computing


Among U.S. households with an annual income of $85,000 or more, the number with five or more computers grew almost 35 percent from 2005


to 2006.


Source: JupiterResearch


Now, to be fair, we can only imagine what words those carriers would put in Alltel’s mouth.


Perhaps a guy in blue would step forward and say something like:


“We are America’s largest network unless, of course, you are in Washington, Oregon, California, parts of the Midwest, and, oh yeah, the Northeast.”


Imitation, flattery?


The Apple Computer commercials with the hipster vs. the corporate suit, representing the Mac and the Windows PC, respectively, have been spoofed and spoofed again.


We heard tell of Microsoft turning the tables in its company meeting two weeks ago.


Now, Greenpeace borrows the Mac vs. PC format in a campaign against e-waste generated by high-tech items of all stripes.


But the Green my Apple campaign is targeted squarely at Cupertino, which is apparently the platform of choice at the environmental-activism group.


A promo on www.greenpeace.org proclaims, “It’s Showtime” — the tagline Apple used recently to build hype around a refresh of its iPod and iTunes lines.


In the associated video, the guys tell us “we’re a lot alike these days. Cousins under the skin. My brother from another mother.”


They go on to list features, including 80-gigabyte hard drives and 17-inch screens, but quickly get to the poisonous stuff that’s filling landfills in China and India: cadmium, beryllium, led, brominated flame retardants, hexavalent chromium, mercury.


The video ends with the tagline, “I love my Mac. I just wish it came in green.”


Flying high


Deloitte & Touche is out with a list of the 50 fastest-growing Northwest technology companies.


Insitu Group, the maker of unmanned aerial-surveillance drones for the military and other customers, topped the chart with revenue growth between 2001 and 2005 of 9,140 percent.


The Bingen, Klickitat County, company ranked high on another list: It was 34th on the 2006 Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies, the highest rank for a Washington state business. Inc.’s report pegged its revenue at $29.5 million.


Founded in 1992 by Tad McGeer, Insitu’s head count has zoomed from three employees in 2002 to more than 100 listed on its Web site now.


Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff. We can be reached at 206-464-2265 or biztech@seattletimes.com.