Well, apparently T-Mobile isn’t the only carrier interested in breaking with cellphone industry tradition.
Sprint, along with Best Buy, announced a deal Monday that gives students a year of free service, including unlimited talk and text as well as 1 gigabyte of data per month. (Unlimited data costs $10 per month.)
Students don’t have to sign a contract but do have to pay a different “student activated price” for the phone – prices that are much closer to the unsubsidized price of the phones than they are to the kind of prices people are used to paying when they sign up for a new contract. (See a list below for current phones and prices.)
The deal applies to students, both K-12 and college students, starting a new line of service with Sprint. It is slated to run through Jan. 4.
Those who want even more free service can get extra by persuading others to sign up for a new line of service at Sprint. For every referral, students will get another 12 months of free service.
It’s the latest salvo from Softbank-backed Sprint, which has also been promising customers that they can keep their unlimited data plans for the life of their relationship with Sprint.
T-Mobile, meanwhile, has been taking a number of new approaches to win customers from AT&T and Verizon, including doing away with contracts, offering free international data and introducing a $10-per-month Jump program that lets customers upgrade their phone as often as twice per year.
AT&T said on Monday that it will be the first U.S. carrier to stock Samsung’s 16-megapixel Galaxy S4 Zoom Android camera phone. The device, which features a 10x optical zoom, will be in stores Nov. 8. Price: $199, with a new two-year contract.
AT&T said that it will start taking orders for the six-inch Lumia 1520 phablet on Friday, charging $199 for those who sign a new two-year contract. The large-screen Windows Phone, which will hit shelves Nov. 22, was announced last month by Nokia.
Rather than “rethinking possible,” AT&T is rethinking its plans, as it becomes the latest wireless carrier to offer customers the option to upgrade their phones more frequently. Starting July 26, AT&T will offer new “Next” plans for smartphones and tablets, on a post-paid basis. The plan allows customers to trade in their devices (feature phones excluded) every 12 months, provided the customer pays a monthly installment fee based on a 20-month cycle. So, you would take the full retail price of a smartphone or tablet, divide it by 20 and add that cost to your monthly traditional or family-share AT&T plan. Twelve months later, you trade in that device for a new one, and a new cycle begins. If you decide you want a new phone before the 12 months is up, Next owners still owe the cost of the remaining months’ fees.
Read the full story at All Things D.
Back in April, after extending upgrade periods to a full 24 months, Verizon introduced a new device payment that would allow customers to upgrade phones by purchasing them at full prices with the payments spread out over a 12-month period. According to sources of ours, Verizon will introduce a new upgrade initiative on August 25 called “VZ Edge” that will allow customers to upgrade their phones much more frequently to “stay on the leading edge of technology.” In an training slide detailing the new plan, we can see that Verizon is offering up VZ Edge as a way for customers to avoid signing contracts and upgrade fees, while remaining on the “best network” and with the latest devices. All of the specifics are not yet available, but this slide does mention that if customers are on the previously mentioned monthly payment plan, that they can upgrade to a new device at any time once they have paid off 50% of their current phone.
Read the full story at Droid-Life.
Tech culture is a funny thing. If you track tech news, releases and new ideas closely enough, you’ll notice there’s a very apparent trend that pops up all the time:
- Some company has a truly original idea.
- Every competing company copies that idea.
It’s funny and sad at the same time, and it’s the same thing that happens every time there’s a truly unique idea in the tech world.
A Truly Original Idea
The most recent example of this has been the ability for tech-happy smartphone owners to upgrade their phones far more often than once every two years. T-Mobile made a big splash in the mobile market last week when it announced ‘Jump,’ which would give customers two mobile upgrades every year for an extra $10 per month. (As a refresher to the new way T-Mobile sells smartphones since they no longer have mobile contracts, you can catch up here.)
Jump is a great idea! A truly original idea. People love upgrading their phones and hate having to wait 20 months two years for a new gadget. (Let’s put aside the fact that you don’t save a much money by constantly upgrading your phones and you no longer have back-up phones to give someone or use in case of emergency. It’s still a very original idea.)
… and the Rest Shall Follow
You know what’s NOT original? The fact that AT&T just announced an almost identical program: Next. (All Things D notes that AT&T issued a memo teasing Next before T-Mobile announced Jump, so it’s unclear whose idea came first. The bottom line is still the same: derivative ideas.) Next would be slightly different from T-Mobile’s plans in a few ways: You’re eligible for an upgrade every 12 months, not six; you don’t need to put a down payment on your device; and there’s no additional monthly fee. It would be more forgivable of a copycat if it was better, but the numbers don’t add up. T-Mobile’s not scared, either, as an executive said it’s a “poor imitation” of Jump.
Want to hear a funny story? Verizon’s reportedly planning the same type of program, called VZ Edge, which would launch in August. The plan is almost identical to Next, which means it, too, is a slight derivation on Jump.
It’s just that type of copycat culture. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sprint announce something similar, except Sprint seems to be doing its own thing over there, with Unlimited, My Way essentially giving you unlimited everything forever and ever.
Not an Isolated Incident
Think back to the biggest tech breakthroughs of the last few years: iPhone, iPad, etc. Every major breakthrough has been imitated and copied and modded and tweaked by just about every company under the sun. I’ve just never seen it happen as quickly as we’ve seen phone carriers do their thing this week.
And this isn’t the last time we’ll see this type of behavior this year. The Pebble Smartwatch was last year’s Kickstarter darling, and recently hit store shelves. You know who else is interested in the smartwatch business? Oh, just about everyone: Google. Apple. Mozilla. Microsoft. TomTom. Sony. Dell. It’s amazing. For a while, I seemed to be posting a story about a new company wanting to enter the smartwatch business… and I know we’ll see the same thing once Google Glass becomes more prevalent.
Innovation breeds competition, which helps create better products for all of us to buy and use. I’d just like to see more unique ideas, rather than everyone piling on whichever bandwagon is hot this hour.
Shelly Palmer chats with Dari Alexander and Steve Lacy on Fox 5 s News at 5 about Verizon Edge, AT&T Next and T-Mobile Jump.
Within the space of little more than a week, three of the largest carriers in the US have introduced completely new plans to go alongside traditional contract agreements and prepaid services. T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon Wireless, with their new plans called Jump, Next, and Edge, respectively, are all going after the same thing: subscribers who want to get the newest smartphone as quickly as possible. That’s not the only thing that brings these new plans together, however. They’re all extremely complicated. And make no mistake, carriers like it that way – it’s easier to overcharge if customers don’t know it’s happening. So let’s untangle the secrets behind these plans to see which (if any) are a good deal. The best way to analyze these plans is to take a real-world example. For the charts below, we’re looking at what you’d expect to pay for a Galaxy S4 on each of these carriers using one of their new plans.
Read the full story at The Verge.
Once T-Mobile unveiled Jump, its program that gives you access to a phone upgrade every six months, AT&T and Verizon answered by announcing their own early upgrade plans. Verizon Edge lets you get a shiny new smartphone every six months, while AT&T Next gives you a new phone once a year. Like T-Mobile Jump, both programs require a trade-in of your old device when you upgrade, but unlike Jump, neither program requires a separate monthly fee. And you’re not eligible to upgrade to a new device until you’ve paid off half the cost of your phone. But that’s not the whole story. T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon build the cost of phone subsidies into their monthly service fees, so with all these plans you’re actually paying for the phone twice. Once, built into your monthly phone bill and again in the installment plan. Next and Edge won’t save you money, so go pick the phone with the features you want, and get another new one for free in two years.
Here’s some good news on the unlocking front if you’re in the U.S.
Hot on the heels of the response by the White House to the “Make Unlocking Cell Phones Legal” petition, Democratic senators Amy Klobuchar and Richard Blumenthal, along with Utah Republican Mike Lee have introduced a bill that would make unlocking cell phones legal again.
AllThingsD relays statements issued by the senators:
“Consumers shouldn’t have to fear criminal charges if they want to unlock their cell phones and switch carriers,” Lee said in a statement. “Enhanced competition among wireless services is the surest way to increase consumer welfare.”
“Consumers who have purchased a mobile device, and aren’t bound by a service contract, should be able to use it on another network,” said Blumenthal. “This legislation is common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring healthy competition in the market.”
While carriers like AT&T allow customers to unlock their iPhones after they have fulfilled their contract, activist Sina Khanifar who started the White House petition drive contends AT&T’s unlocking policy does not go far enough.
It does appear that the bill has gained enough momentum to get it passed.