Sunday, February 25, 2007

Mobile data charges - the second coming of the frog?

I know the title of this entry seems a little random, but bear with me!

First lets look back a little at the crazy frog subscriptions debacle in 2005. The basic problem was that Jamba's ads used didn't make it clear that it was a subscription service as opposed to a one off purchase of the single ringtone - and end users felt they were being ripped off. The net result was a distrust in mobile subscriptions that is felt up to the present day - though PayForIt is now making the first tentative steps to making subscriptions acceptable again.

Stepping back slightly the issue was one of transparency of pricing. Users became worried that they would be overcharged for using PSMS services and that dented their confidence to spend.

We are now seeing the same problem again in the area of mobile data charges. End users (who typically won't understand every dot and comma of their price plan) are getting nice shiny new video etc capable phones and heading off enthusiastically to download rich media like videos from the BBC site and things like that. At the end of the first month they are shocked to find their phone bill has increased by a factor of 10 due to the data used.

Again, other folks hear the horror stories (via tabloids, word of mouth etc) and choose not to use data services on their phones. Their confidence to spend has been dented which is bad for everybody.

This general problem isn't just affecting non-technical etc users as illustrated by Mike Rowhel over at This is Mobility.

This whole area is a major bee in my bonnet so I suspect I will be writing more on this over the next while!

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