On the one hand Peter Rojas should be applauded for proposing that the broadband carriers adopt a multi-device plan instead of having each device tied to a contract. On the other hand he’s tilting at windmills even though he’s proposing what many have proposed before. And much like Don Quixote, he’s on a fool’s errand that might make us feel good at heart, but will ultimately prove fruitless.
Peter actually begins his post by saying we are going to sooner or later witness the demise of “unlimited” plans in favor of tiered plans. I think that’s ancient history. Let’s remember we’re dealing with folks here who mangled the English language for quite some time by saying “unlimited” equaled 5GB of data. And they got away with it. Goodness knows, we’ve railed about there here on the pages of GBM for quite some time.
Let’s face it. The carriers are selling crack and we’re all addicted. Bloggers and journalists have complained about the way carriers treat customers this way but ultimately have accepted it, and often apologized for the carriers’ behavior, citing the huge demand on the networks as one reason. The ultimate moment in this farce is that we all continue to take what we’re given because, frankly we have no choice. AT&T is going to be, if it is not already, an amazing case study in how to piss off your customers and still make millions off of them while doing so.
Peter is correct that the carriers need to think differently, but that’s not going to happen as long as users keep feeding the beast. There’s too much money flowing. The fact that some, like me, think that pieces of these plans like $.20 for a text message demonstrate the futility of it all, proves that the carriers are taking advantage of a market they’ve been allowed to create and I don’t think anything short of government regulation will change that. Don’t count on that happening.
Rojas thinks the carrier that moves towards a multi-device plan has the opportunity to grab market share. He might be correct there, but I’d propose that if carriers had any interest in the long term, they’d go further. Tie whatever agreement you’re going to reach to the customer and not the device and get rid of the subsidized model entirely. If you want to build customer loyalty focus on the customer and not the contract. But then the economics of the current model mean that we’d all pay more for the devices, or so we are told. Somehow I just don’t think the math adds up completely there.
The bottom line here is that the current model is a muddled mess and puts consideration of the customer last. The providers thrive on that muddle. The carriers are like a land holder in the old west who constructs a dam upstream and then controls the flow of water to all of those downstream. But there’s a flaw in that logic as well. In the case of the land holder there was water to provide it was just being controlled. But, in the case of wireless broadband we’ve been discovering that there is less than we all imagined, regardless of the false advertising that promises us an “always on” connected lifestyle.
Keep in mind that these broadband networks were constructed with taxpayer subsidies that many of us helped pay for and as the next wave of 4G networks is set to roll out, we’re already seeing some interesting hanky panky. 4G was originally talked about as being an ITU standard providing at least 100Mib/s connectivity with up to 1Gibts/s as possible. The marketers have already succeeded in erasing that definition as well and the tech media has basically accepted the reality that they helped define by their own acquiescence.
Don’t get me wrong, I applaud Peter Rojas’ efforts here. He’s got some clout and already his thoughts are getting wide circulation. But both Cervantes’ original story of Don Quixote and the musical that was created from it (Man of La Mancha) have been enjoyed by millions for generations. For those who might not know the story, the good guy loses in the end. But then we all like Impossible Dreams.
Note: So, I’m a doofus, too tired and too lame. Apologies to Ryan Block and to Peter Rojas who actually wrote the piece.