Saul Hansell suggests that hated U.S. cellular carrier practices such as text message markups and fee-packed contracts
ultimately give American consumers what they really
want: predictable bills.
In pursuit of this we learn of the psychological "nuances" of pricing and the "supersized logic" of using fat overage fees to upsell customers to expensive all-you-can-eat plans.
"This year," he writes, "the deals are becoming even better."
His piece even claims that the industry would love to give up the adhesive contracts, early termination fees and locked-in subsidy handsets that it won't give up, even when threatened by congress
Now all the carriers are selling heavily subsidized smartphones. They hate this state of affairs -- and wish that American consumers would just pay full price for the phones, the way people do in Europe.
Hansell's evidence for this is the iPhone, which was "unsubsidized" when it was $600. It only dropped to $400 and then $200, he writes, when they moved to subsidies. He implies that the iPhone launch was initially unsuccessful and that this shows Americans won't buy contract-free phones: "Consumers balked at the high upfront cost. By the second generation of the iPhone, Apple reverted to a traditional subsidy model."
For customers, however, the only practical option with the $600 U.S. iPhone was to activate it on the standard subsidy-payoff contract, with a compulsory data plan to boot. Whatever the unsubsidized payment arrangements between Apple and AT&T, the contract arrangements between AT&T and consumers always
assumed a subsidy. In fact, my recollection is that AT&T itself wouldn't even sell you that "unsubsidized" iPhone without activating a 2-year contract on the spot. Buying one from the Apple store did not enforce activation, but everyday customers couldn't activate on other carriers (or on a pre-paid AT&T plan) without using warranty-busting hacks that emerged only later.
In fact, AT&T didn't market a no-contract iPhone until March, 2009
-- for $600-$700 depending on model, more than the original iPhone model ever cost "full price."
Throughout his piece, Hansell writes often of people's confusion. He claims that even economists find cellphone plans baffling. But they're not hard to understand except in the nickel-and-dime details. Hansell's repeated evocation of "confusion" is reminiscent of when characters in novels continually ask what's going on, or when they wake up in white rooms: it's because the writer himself doesn't know.
Excepting the Yale professor whose words introduce the article, the people quoted in it are carrier flacks and cellular industry analysts: a fair sign of a piece tossed off inside a snowglobe of PR.
If you think that your phone may have been hacked so that your adversaries can watch you through the cameras and listen through the mics, one way to solve the problem is to remove the cameras and microphones, and only use the phone with a headset that you unplug when it’s not in use.
Lured by the internet’s pervasive insistence that it represents a superior, more comfortable typing experience, I recently went back to an old-timey mechanical keyboard. This was a mistake. I am now a hamfisted ASCII jazz disaster.
SpareOne Emergency Phone is a basic cellphone powered by AA batteries. This gives it a relatively short time on a charge, but means that it will have a charge after being stuffed in a drawer or glove box for months. I came across this during my search for the perfect basic phone, but be warned: […]
We’d all love a 75-inch TV screen on which to view our favorite shows. But not all of us can drop the cash needed to get one of those broadcasting beauties (or even have the space needed to house them).Thankfully, there’s an alternative. With the SainSonic Mini LED Portable Projector (only $59.99 in the Boing Boing Store), you can project a picture […]
If you want to add some real firepower to your programming repertoire, learn Java–one of the most adaptable, widely-used programming platforms around. You can easily do that with this Ultimate Java bundle, now just $69 in the Boing Boing Store.Across 14 lectures and 117 hours of content, the educators at online academy eduCBA will walk you through […]
Every company wants to harness the power of social media, but few understand how to make that happen. Be one of those select few with this Social Media Marketing Course & Certification package, now just $29 in the Boing Boing Store.Over 12 modules of course material, you’ll learn what it takes to increase a brand’s […]