Google Fiber officially debuted last week in the Kansas City area after a long testing phase as the Internet giant has begun taking pre-registrations. In essence, Google is taking telco and cable companies head on with a value proposition to build a super fast (allegedly 100 times faster than any other U.S. ISP’s average broadband speeds) fiber infrastructure in return for a $300 installation fee, which can be paid at once or in $25 installments, per household. Google then complements the fiber solution with three service package options.
AT&T has joined Verizon Wireless in offering a shared data plan option for its customers. Not surprisingly, the plan is similar in nature, based on the premise that the voice and messaging minutes should be unlimited, while the data component is offered in various buckets (1GB for $40 scaling up to 20 GB for $200). But are these plans simplifying the purchase experience or further complicating it?
I lost my shorts on Friday (I should mention that I wasn’t wearing them at the time). The loss of shorts, while annoying, was nothing more than a minor inconvenience. But Friday 13th had more in store: in my shorts were my wallet and my smartphone (I still wasn’t wearing them!). Whoops. Frantic calls to my phone took me to voicemail, suggesting that either the phone had been switched off or was crushed, and so I began “the process.”
The success of the mobile phone market over the past 10 to 15 years came at the clear expense of the landline market. The insipient creep of cord-cutting behavior coupled with the younger generation that never saw the point of having a cord, has resulted in lower landline numbers and pretty much a universal agreement that the landline will fade, if not to obscurity then at least to a dusty corner of the living room.
Microsoft’s Surface announcement packed a one-two punch. Of course, the big surprise was that Microsoft would compete with its OEM partners in its central revenue source of Windows–licensed devices. But it also seemed clear that the Surface introduction brought to the fore many aspects of Windows 8 and RT that are not germane to Surface, such as the idea that a device could be considered a tablet and a PC (the main rationale of Windows 8’s design).
Verizon Wireless has announced its much-anticipated share plans, and has effectively bridged the two opposing options of sharing across device types while also appeasing the needs of the family unit. And, even more significantly, the company has commoditized voice plans down to a single, unlimited offering.
When Nokia announced that it secured AT&T’s commitment to sell the LTE-powered Lumia 900 a little over a month ago we alluded to the fact the attractive price point, coupled with the aggressive marketing campaign to reintroduce the Nokia brand, would help the vendor and the Windows Phone platform overcome its biggest challenge – attracting the developer community.
When Google Wallet launched last September MasterCard was named a key partner. This summer MasterCard will launch a partnership with wireless carrier mobile wallet player, Isis, in select markets (Salt Lake City and Austin). Clearly, though, MasterCard is prioritizing mobile wallet solution capabilities because now the credit card giant is launching its own mobile wallet solution – PayPass Mobile Wallet.
Over the last few weeks, Amazon has been on the move to enhance and extend app developer monetization opportunities distributed through its branded Amazon Appstore, and supported across all platforms including Android smartphones, tablets, and Kindle Fire. The in-app billing capability, announced on April 10, extends monetization beyond one-time sales to ongoing purchases within the app, including expansion packs, virtual currency and subscriptions.
AT&T has formally announced what many high-use smartphone users already knew: throttling is here to stay. AT&T users on a 3G plan will be throttled at 3GB, while 4G LTE users will see throttling at 5GB. The 3G/4G differentiation is a key point, as 4G users will blow through their data far quicker than 3G (the bigger pipe means better quality video, but also greater data use – and better efficiencies for AT&T).