19 May 2010

Google's Nexus One and unsubsidized handsets

I found this item over at the Technology Liberation Front interesting and worth reading. The article points out that the primary cause of Google's failed experiment is Americans' unwillingness to give up subsidies. This may well be largely true, but it fails to capture other aspects of the American telecom environment and this particular experiment that are also contributing factors.

My last two handsets have been unsubsidized and unlocked (by choice), and yes, one of them is a Nexus One. My carrier (AT&T) does not give me a discount for an unsubsidized handset, so I am paying the monthly price assuming I had a subsidized handset. In a sense, then, I am paying twice. I chose this route not for lower cost (obviously) but for flexibility. I am now free to use SIM cards of my choosing and I have a month-to-month contract, which I also like.

The other aspect of the Google experiment is that consumers did not have the opportunity to "try before buy". The brick-and-mortar retail experience does allow this while the virtual one does not. For a complex product like a smart phone, user experience is key (a lesson that Steve Jobs taught us). User experience cannot be assessed via a web page, no matter how well designed it is.

13 May 2010

Verizon is considering licensing their 4G spectrum to rural carriers

This item is interesting. It seems that they would be engaging rural carriers as partners in building the LTE infrastructure. I get the distinct impression that the carriers would have to make the infrastructure investments. If so, Verizon is taking a page out of Western Union's playbook (yes, Western Union) by engaging partners to build infrastructure.

Update on wireless only households

The latest CDC report on wireless only households in the US came out. Overall, the number of wireless-only households with children increased to 25.9% from 21.3%. Techdirt was wondering if this constitutes a tipping point. Except for social acceptance factors, I don't see the positive feedbacks that normally exist in dynamic systems with tipping points; instead, I think the value proposition of a landline is no longer persuasive.

The more interesting figure in the report is the one below, which shows that 25 year olds are 50% likely to be wireless only. This is clearly something that should be worrisome to telephone operating companies, since this is the demographic that defines their future.