Thursday, 14 February 2008

User tenacity: why operators need to shape up

Some of the team members have returned from the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. There was one anecdote that I found fascinating and another wake-up call to the operators - are they listening?

On T-Mobile the cost of mobile data roaming when abroad is £7.50 per MB - this means the BBC homepage alone costs £2.25!!!! Sensible as they are the guys recognised this as a rip-off and bought local SIM cards to pay local rates while they were there. By the by, this is now standard practice for any sustained trip in our company.

They went further. They downloaded JoikuSpot which allowed one of them to establish their phone as a Wifi hotspot using the local data connection and then routed all other WiFi enabled phones through that.

Granted that these are techy savvy users I will take the point that this will not worry T-Mobile too much. However, what tech savvy users are doing today is test prototype methods for avoiding costs tomorrow for the mass market.

If T-Mobile had charged less then the team would not have gone to such efforts, but their pricing is well above the sweetspot and this behaviour ensued. Remember that SMS evolved only because it was cheaper than voice calls - one can hardly call the interface user friendly.

As a result of their pricing T-Mobile did not receive one cent of revenue from a significant number of high using early adopters.

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