The Data Plan Evolves…More

First we had unlimited data plans for our basic 1st gen smartphones, then as Androids and 2nd-3rd gen iPhones came out the amount of data the public was consuming was both clogging carriers and also opening a door to a whole new revenue stream.

That begat the tiered data plan, and now we we’re starting to see the “shared” data plan.

Verizon intro’d their “Share Everything” plan in June, AT&T rolled their’s out last week.  It’s called, “Mobile Share”.  The idea is that you buy a block of data per month for a flat fee, and then you pay an additional amount for each device you link to that bucket of data.  All of your wireless devices share from that block of data and in theory it’s supposed to be a better plan than individual account for each device.  Maybe it will be down the road, but right now the numbers don’t always appear to prove that out.  The idea the carriers are trying is they want you to not only use their service exclusively for all your wireless devices, but they also want you to feel like its easier to buy a tablet, gaming device or car entertainment system with 3G/4G connectivity without having to worry about “another data account”.  This is probably the account model of the future but it is very important you spent the time looking at your options before someone from any company just talks you into it.

For example AT&T’s new plans start at $85 for a single gig of data.  That is a crazy number.  It goes up to $230 for 20 gig, and that’s crazy too, but if you consider that you may have 3-5 devices all pulling from that same block, and also splitting the costs you see how the pricing becomes not too dissimilar to what most are paying per device, per data plan right now.

Wired has a good break down of costs to review.  And there are other links below.  You’re going to start hearing more and more of these new data plans as carriers really begin to capitalize on the fact that smartphones are less and less used as phones and more as internet connections to the web.  This is where providers will make the meat of their revenues in the future and will have to finance the build out of their systems that will only continue to demand more and more bandwidth as technology demands it.

You pay per usage for electricity and water – and the day is coming that your data will also only be billed in this same manner.

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Tablet, Smartphone or Both

One of the really interesting things to watch about the handheld segment of the electronics industry is the never ending battle to figure out what consumers want when it comes to screen size.  At one time there was a race to make the smallest, thinnest, lightest handheld devices possible.  That generally resulted in limited functionality and tiny, hard to read screens.

Then tablets came back in vouge when Apple told the world it was ok to like them with the iPad and its 9.7″ screen.  Of course there was immediate talk of smaller screened iPads and other manufactures began making tablets with 7″ screens.

But with smartphones the size wars went back to trying to find that ideal dimension.  The iPhone’s 3.5″ screen was a standard, but now the most popular Android phones are hitting stores with screens about an inch larger.  Which is best?  That is for the consumer to decide individually, but now there is even a tweener segment beginning to emerge.

The Samsung Galaxy Note is now up for pre-order at AT&T for $300.  With that you get either a giant smartphone or tiny tablet with a 5.3″ screen, and now we’re even back to suppling a stylus with the device so you can write notes and draw stuff on the screen without your fingers.

The Note was shown off in a Super Bowl commercial that continues to poke fun at Apple fans, but I did find the line, “it comes with a pen?!?!” to be high on the irony scale as I thought we were trying to get away from the stylus a few years ago… Remember the Palm?

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