Hello! And welcome to our Friday column, Worst of the Week. There’s a lot of nutty stuff that goes on in this industry, so this column is a chance for us at RCRWireless.com to rant and rave about whatever rubs us the wrong way. We hope you enjoy it!
And without further ado:
News this week that Verizon Wireless may or may not begin forcing customers currently on unlimited data plans for their smartphones to bucket plans sent many in the blog-o-sphere into a tizzy. Not helping – or perhaps helping – that cause was the wording used by Verizon CFO Fran Shammo, who speaking at an analyst conference noted:
“So as you come through an upgrade cycle and you upgrade in the future, you will have to go onto the data share plan. And moving away from, if you will, the unlimited world and moving everybody into a tiered structure data share-type plan.”
It seems the phrase “you will have to go” is the part that raised the most ire. Also, this seemed to indicate that even if you have but one device, you will be forced into a data share offering. Perplexing.
Further adding to the furor, Shammo then went on to say:
“So when you think about our 3G base, a lot of our 3G base is unlimited. As they start to migrate into 4G, they will have to come off of unlimited and go into the data share plan. And that is beneficial for us for many reasons, obviously. So as you pick what tier you want to be and we think that there will be some price up in those tiers.”
This part seemed to indicate a greedy nature for the move, something that perhaps came off wrong in the eyes of the general public, but seemed tailor made for the financial audience at the investor conference. Though with such a big statement, I am surprised the event moderator or someone in attendance did not follow up with Shammo on that statement.
Following Shammo’s bombshell, and the uproar that it caused, Verizon Wireless sent out a statement trying to clarify Shammo’s comments. That clarification noted that basically customers could keep their current unlimited data plans if they never partake in a device subsidy going forward. Not quite sure this appeased the rankled masses, but at least the carrier did provide for a way for those that feel the need for unlimited to stay unlimited.
This clarification also came some 24 hours after Shammo’s statement, an eternity for those looking to express their grief virally and seeming to indicate that Verizon Wireless was not prepared to part with this information just yet. You gotta love when a person in charge goes rogue.
Now, I enjoyed the hair-pulling freak out this bit of news caused, but beyond a few people that perhaps spend too much free time with their mobile device, I can’t really see what all the fuss was about. Until Verizon Wireless releases details on its data buckets, we really can’t start screaming bloody murder about what these changes mean.
Sure, there has been an unwritten rule since the dawn of cellular that you never bump a customer from a rate plan, and for the most part Verizon Wireless is keeping its end of the bargain. Heck, it seems to be doing everyone a favor by trying to wean consumers from device subsidies that have hammered the bottom line of many carriers in the smartphone era. Though again, this is a financial viewpoint, something consumers are probably not likely to care about, especially from a carrier that is pulling in the sort of profits Verizon Wireless is posting.
I would also venture to guess that those who feel the need to keep their unlimited data plans are also those that typically don’t wait the full two-years for their contract to expire and thus reap the benefits of a full device subsidy, so again, no harm there.
In my opinion, Verizon Wireless’ biggest foul is how it handled the situation. Letting – if that’s the right word – an executive sort of off the cuff announce a major policy shift was probably not the best way to handle the situation. Then going more than a day before releasing a quasi-explanation left still more ammunition for those wedded to their unlimited-ness.
Is what Verizon Wireless is proposing to do fair? Well, maybe not in a strict sense, but in the world of business there is no room for fair. If anything, Verizon Wireless should be condemned for the handling of the mess, rather than the mess itself.
OK, enough of that.
Thanks for checking out this week’s Worst of the Week column. And now for some extras:
–Quite the dramatic week for would-be prepaid disruptor Voyager Mobile, which was hit by what it termed a “malicious network attack to its primary website” just ahead of its planned launch of an unlimited service offering. The company was planning to roll out its $19 per month, unlimited talk and messaging plan or $39 per month unlimited talk, messaging and data offering this week, only to be vexed by hackers.
With such a disruptive offering set to hit the market, my first hunch fell to those who most likely would be impacted by such a service. However, once I removed the tin-foil hat, I sort of realized that maybe we should not be expecting so much from a company that is forced to delay an all-important launch just because someone hacks its website.
–Nokia might not be selling as many phones as it used to, but they do make some funny commercials:
–Finally, leave it to a Brit to get to the bottom of what is really on my mind. Iain Gillott from iGR, released a report on what people are doing in bathrooms with their phones. Some of the more disturbing highlights include:
Twenty-two percent of those surveyed said they sent or received a voice call. (Major party foul)
Ten percent listened to music. (Whatever helps)
Six percent said they “did something else with the phone.” (What the what?)
Those with an LTE-enabled smartphone are 60 % to 120% more likely to use their phone while in the bathroom.
People with kids are 25% more likely to use their phone while in the bathroom.
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