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?