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Posts Tagged ‘data plans’

Nokia Makes Plans, Samsung Makes Moves

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

In June I posted on Nokia’s vision of the mobile market and specifically how they view the space in which tablet devices are intended to fit. While Nokia has been continuing with its planning (and re-planning, as they have since realised their initial tablet outlines do not match the market expectations), Samsung have surged ahead, taking centre stage with the same strategy.

Samsung recognised that a tablet at the right size can be the ultimate portable device, but even with its vast array of features, it can not truly replace the mobile phone. With this realisation, the Korean company looked for another way in, and it seems they came to the same conclusion as their Finnish rivals. Although it is not possible to completely replace a mobile handset, creating a device that prioritises the typical use cases of a phone (web browsing, text messaging, email, music, video, gaming) limits the benefits of the smaller device to one core feature – calls. If they can convince users that it is just as convenient to use a tablet for everything other than calls, while also giving an improved overall experience due to the larger screen, consumers will begin to look at tablets as not just mini-computers, but super-sized smart phones.

This approach immediately opens up tablets (and in particular, the Galaxy Tab) to the masses, but this alone is not the end game. As I highlighted in June, this development brings with it the opportunity for operators to sell consumers a second handset, and with it, a contract. The ultimate goal is for consumers to purchase 2 devices: 1 a portable browsing device and the second will be their handset for traditional calls and messaging. This may seem familiar and it most certainly is, as network operators have been trying to push netbooks alongside mobiles for a couple of years already. This however, is not in anyway the same thing. The tablet will replace your smart phone as you use it today; the second device will be pushed as a “minimalist” product, for when you are out on the town and only need a phone to stay in contact. These devices will more often than not be feature phones (such as the HTC Wildfire or the Samsung Wave 2) with displays no larger than 3.5 inches. The user experience will be largely transferable between a tablet and its “partner” phone, as manufacturers including Samsung and HTC have used their custom skins for Android as the basis of their feature phone UIs. Ultimately operators will attempt to make “bundles” of a tablet and a phone, allowing users to pay one monthly cost for both products.

The Samsung Tab is the trial run for how operators and manufacturers hope to position and market their products in the future. The early adopters will pay more for the convenience of a tablet and mobile phone with 1 contract, but as this type of bundle becomes more prevalent and our options broaden, we as consumers  should come out on top. The only real question is whether Nokia will be able to get its house in order quick enough to become one of those options.

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No More Unlimited Data…

Unlimited data never lived up to its name. The operators consistently hid behind the banner of “Fair Use”, as if your expectation that their understanding and use of the English language would be correct was arrogant and imbecilic. The operators simply assumed that you who has a fair understanding of the vernacular would recognise that there was a limit. We through our lack of understanding of forced what is merely a clarification of their original stance on the matter. And look, the limits of 500mb on the cheaper tariffs is more than adequate for our current needs…

Here in lies the trick. This is not a short term strategy, this is most definitely a long con.

Our data usage up to this stage has been built around text based content, mostly email and other text based social networking methods such as Facebook, Twitter etc. The odd picture is sent here and there but these are then scaled down to be delivered to mobile phones. The vast majority of images viewed on devices are downloaded from websites where images are rendered for maximum flexibility and minimal size. All of this adds up to much less than 500mb of data downloaded each month.

The networks foresee however the changing of the tide, as streaming audio and specifically video content becomes mainstream. Netflix, ABC, ESPN, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and many more are already available and streaming content on mobile devices. Its convenience, flexibility and variety makes s mobile phone almost the perfect way to catch up on your favourite show on the move…. Except for the data costs.

In the future you will be forced to be think just as much about your exact data usage as you are right now about your fuel economy. Its that network operators are evil, they’re just like any other business, here to make money any way they can. This does not mean that your bill will inevitably increase regardless of your decisions; you can still decide that video in the move isn’t for you. its not like you can’t wait all day to see that awesome new episode of American Idol and see that performance everyone in the subway seems to be talking about…has it really made the papers as well? I seem to have no choice but to take a quick look….