Should Smartphones Come With Data Plans?

A recent rumor at Boy Genius Report claims that T-Mobile is going to require most of its smartphones to be sold with a data plan. The concept is nothing new – most BlackBerries are sold with an add-on that includes unlimited data connections, and the iPhone is sold with a data package bundled from AT&T. Personally, I think it’s a fantastic idea, and something the carriers should have done a long time ago.

The difference in using any mobile phone, much less today’s smartphone, with or without a data package, is nearly night and day. The extra connection isn’t only valuable for mobile browsing and email, it’s also the window to a whole new level of opportunity, both for the carrier and for consumers.

With bundled data packages, carriers win by getting that higher ARPU. They also win because an unlimited data package opens the door to a host of other services, such as streaming media (audio or video), as well as social networking and other data-oriented services on your mobile. Basically anything you can do on your computer, you can do on your phone through the internet. It’s a whole new opportunity for service upsells. Plus, with unlimited data, you’ve eliminated one barrier that often prevents customers from experimenting with these data-intensive services.

Consumers win because they can do so much more with their phones. Mobile internet is the future of how people will interact with each other, regardless of how you look at it. It enables communication on levels never seen before, and since it’s mobile, there are no geographical limitations. It cuts the cord and allows people to use internet-related products and services without having to be sat in a single place, which means it can more easily enrich and enable their real lives.

Another benefit that we’ve seen with the iPhone is that if the manufacturer knows a user will have unlimited data, they can more easily enable or create different applications. I love my S60-powered smartphones, but they’re held back slightly, specifically with 3rd party apps, because they have to ask permission to connect to the internet. They don’t have the luxury of knowing you have unlimited internet, which means they’ll probably always have that awkward interaction with the user of ‘are you sure I can do this?’

What do you think? Do you use a smartphone without a data package? Do you think it limits you?

Published by rcadden

Just a dude with a phone.

20 thoughts on “Should Smartphones Come With Data Plans?

  1. I don’t think the purchaser of a phone should be locked into any sort of plan but should be able to choose what they want.

    But then again, I think that the carriers, like AT&T and T-Mobile, should just offer a choice of phone minutes, text options, and data plans and let the customer decide what they want to pick and choose. Buffet style.

    1. Ms. Jen – I disagree. However, it’s important that the carriers market it correctly. If they simply raised *every* price plan by $10-15, and said it includes unlimited data, that’s far different than requiring people to purchase an ‘add-on’, even if the end result is the same.

      By lumping it in, they’ll expose people to mobile data so much easier, and there are countless benefits of mobile data, even to someone who only wants to call. So many extra services/features could be enabled and made easier if the fear of overages for data was eliminated.

  2. I don’t think the purchaser of a phone should be locked into any sort of plan but should be able to choose what they want.

    But then again, I think that the carriers, like AT&T and T-Mobile, should just offer a choice of phone minutes, text options, and data plans and let the customer decide what they want to pick and choose. Buffet style.

  3. I don’t think the purchaser of a phone should be locked into any sort of plan but should be able to choose what they want.

    But then again, I think that the carriers, like AT&T and T-Mobile, should just offer a choice of phone minutes, text options, and data plans and let the customer decide what they want to pick and choose. Buffet style.

    1. Ms. Jen – I disagree. However, it’s important that the carriers market it correctly. If they simply raised *every* price plan by $10-15, and said it includes unlimited data, that’s far different than requiring people to purchase an ‘add-on’, even if the end result is the same.

      By lumping it in, they’ll expose people to mobile data so much easier, and there are countless benefits of mobile data, even to someone who only wants to call. So many extra services/features could be enabled and made easier if the fear of overages for data was eliminated.

  4. It makes sense, and as long as the plan is explained to the subscriber then there shouldn’t be any misunderstandings. Here in the UK Vodafone have recently started selling the HTC Magic, which *must* be sold with a data plan. It makes sense, because with this handset constantly logging on to the network, paying for data usage without the data option will be very expensive, much more than the extra £5 per month the data add-on would cost.

    Without a data plan on my own tariff, there would be no point in even using a S60 phone. The whole point for me of S60 is the ease of use, for email, web browsing, and all the extra applications I can use. Without web access, I may as well just use any old phone.

  5. It makes sense, and as long as the plan is explained to the subscriber then there shouldn’t be any misunderstandings. Here in the UK Vodafone have recently started selling the HTC Magic, which *must* be sold with a data plan. It makes sense, because with this handset constantly logging on to the network, paying for data usage without the data option will be very expensive, much more than the extra £5 per month the data add-on would cost.

    Without a data plan on my own tariff, there would be no point in even using a S60 phone. The whole point for me of S60 is the ease of use, for email, web browsing, and all the extra applications I can use. Without web access, I may as well just use any old phone.

  6. It makes sense, and as long as the plan is explained to the subscriber then there shouldn’t be any misunderstandings. Here in the UK Vodafone have recently started selling the HTC Magic, which *must* be sold with a data plan. It makes sense, because with this handset constantly logging on to the network, paying for data usage without the data option will be very expensive, much more than the extra £5 per month the data add-on would cost.

    Without a data plan on my own tariff, there would be no point in even using a S60 phone. The whole point for me of S60 is the ease of use, for email, web browsing, and all the extra applications I can use. Without web access, I may as well just use any old phone.

  7. It makes sense, and as long as the plan is explained to the subscriber then there shouldn’t be any misunderstandings. Here in the UK Vodafone have recently started selling the HTC Magic, which *must* be sold with a data plan. It makes sense, because with this handset constantly logging on to the network, paying for data usage without the data option will be very expensive, much more than the extra £5 per month the data add-on would cost.

    Without a data plan on my own tariff, there would be no point in even using a S60 phone. The whole point for me of S60 is the ease of use, for email, web browsing, and all the extra applications I can use. Without web access, I may as well just use any old phone.

  8. They should come with the plans, but also I think the data plans should be priced evenly across the board. Right now on AT&T, there are several prices for unlimited data, based on the actual device used. There’s the standard unlimited plan, the PDA plan, the iPhone plan, and the blackberry plan. My isp doesn’t charge me based on what kind of computer I connect, why should a mobile provider?

  9. They should come with the plans, but also I think the data plans should be priced evenly across the board. Right now on AT&T, there are several prices for unlimited data, based on the actual device used. There’s the standard unlimited plan, the PDA plan, the iPhone plan, and the blackberry plan. My isp doesn’t charge me based on what kind of computer I connect, why should a mobile provider?

  10. They should come with the plans, but also I think the data plans should be priced evenly across the board. Right now on AT&T, there are several prices for unlimited data, based on the actual device used. There’s the standard unlimited plan, the PDA plan, the iPhone plan, and the blackberry plan. My isp doesn’t charge me based on what kind of computer I connect, why should a mobile provider?

  11. I think there should be a choice. In Canada, a lot of the smartphones are offered with multi year contracts and a min data plan. I think it’s crappy and have always bought my phones outright and rely on wifi. Sure no u/l data but I deal with it.

  12. I think there should be a choice. In Canada, a lot of the smartphones are offered with multi year contracts and a min data plan. I think it’s crappy and have always bought my phones outright and rely on wifi. Sure no u/l data but I deal with it.

  13. I think there should be a choice. In Canada, a lot of the smartphones are offered with multi year contracts and a min data plan. I think it’s crappy and have always bought my phones outright and rely on wifi. Sure no u/l data but I deal with it.

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