Is Apple Orchestrating Telco Data Plans?
America’s Communication companies have been riding a decade of success driven by the cell phone and protected by regulatory agencies. Huge profits from text messaging have helped to build a more robust data delivery model. So are they ready for the transition to a data only model? The Telco industry is difficult to analyze; business strategy used to be driven by ARPU, Average Revenue Per Unit. All of their efforts focused on maximizing profit from creative and intentionally confusing cellular plans. But those plans dealt with understandable parameters – minutes, time of day, text messages per month, etc. The consumer is not going to understand MBs and GBs let alone K or Mbps. I bring this up as I try to interpret how the Telcos are trying to figure out this new business model.
The iPhone shook everything up. The early days of AT&T trying to figure out how to sell a data plan did not tell us much because the competition was left out of the equation. In recent months I have seen signs of hope at least for how the Telcos plan to penetrate the lucrative student data market. Could they actually be thinking proactively about controlling data subscriptions before they replace voice subscriptions? AT&T mentioned an interest in university iPhone data portals. T-Mobile has pushed a gateway between our WiFi to their Voice/Data network. And Verizon brought their “Network” to my office mostly to listen. I think they understood the significance of social networking evolution such as what might be influenced by Google’s Wave. I think they understand that there is a huge new device market about to explode. Devices that only need basic data plans to fuel their need to stay connected.
I still believe that the MacTouch will be the next piece of this puzzle and rumors about Verizon being allowed to offer the Data plan makes for interesting news. But I believe the key is that we are not talking about “Friends & Family” anymore, we are talking about my family of devices. There is no way you could only have a Verizon plan for your MacTouch or NetBook and an AT&T plan for your iPhone. Is Apple orchestrating a level playing ground of device independence? Think of the possibilities: our students might even be allowed to buy data plans based on the fact that they are secondary to their university’s WiFi plan.