So we’ve been hearing that song for about a month now… And yesterday it finally happened.
Regarding that, Michael Gartenberg brings up an interesting point.
Michael says that wireless carriers have missed the boat regarding data services, and become “wireless bit pipes.”
He’s right, for now. But I wouldn’t give up on those guys just yet. The problem is, companies like Sprint don’t have any Vision (pun intended). They keep trying to leverage their ownership of the pipe by restricting what users can do. Several of these carriers intentionally cripple their devices and limit how they can be used for data access.
They do that so that they can sell unlimited data plans for SmartPhones at $15/month, but charge $90/month for their laptop PC cards – even though you get exactly the same service.
That’s not how they should be making money. Yes, the pipe is important. And having the fastest, most reliable, most competitively priced wireless pipe will definitely bring you customers. And there should be money to be made there, especially when everyone is paying you for data access (and soon that may be all they’re paying you for… who needs anywhere minutes when I have Skype, anywhere).
So how can these companies start making money for premium services? Advertising! That is, after all, how everyone else on the net does it.
But why re-invent the wheel? Don’t try to compete with the companies already providing free mobile services (Google, MSN, Yahoo, TextAmerica, etc.) – Join them! Make a deal. Give them priority on your network. Give them prominent placement in your default phone setups. Work on making their services easier to use on your phone than anyone else’s.
Sell the package. Sell the usability.
Oh, and drop the damn contracts already. I can’t stand that system. All of these companies have us locked-in to bi-annual contracts. It only takes one company to drop the contracts, and the rest will be forced to follow (or suffer hugely).
I shouldn’t stick with your company for 2 years because I’m forced to… I should stick with your company because I like your service. “Loyalty” bonuses are great. But requiring a contract – or making it entirely infeasible to do without one – should be criminal.