At today's Goldman Sachs investor conference, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo had a bit to say about unlimited data plans, and what he (and presumably Verizon) thought about them. There's a link to the full transcript below, but here's a direct quote.
So what customers are understanding and through our good sales routine is once you explain to a customer their usage on a monthly basis, unlimited is just a word, it doesn't really mean anything and that people don't really — I think a lot of consumers think they consume a lot more data than they really do. So that whole unlimited thing I think is going by the wayside and they see the benefit of going to the shared.
Shammo is probably right. Most people don't need unlimited data plans. But for those that do need them, it's not very good news to see that there's little chance of them ever returning. Should Sprint get their LTE network in a more usable state, or T-Mobile expand their high-speed HSPA+ beyond highways and metro areas, there could be a shift among power users away from Big Red. Both carriers now have data-friendly full unlimited plans at reasonable pricing.
I've no dog in this fight. I'm one of the lucky few (very few) with good T-Mobile service, and my ancient Android data plan gives me all I can eat. I'm curious to hear from the rest of you guys. Agree with Mr. Shammo? Hit the break and answer the poll, then fill the comments with
blind rage your thoughts.
Source: Verizon (pdf transcript); via CNET
Google CEO Larry Page wandered into the touchy territory of Android tablets during this afternoon's investor conference call. That's, of course, relevant because while there are 5 bazillion models of Android tablets out there, none has really come anywhere close to the popularity of the iPad. That, and longstanding rumors have Google putting out its own tablet this summer, likely on the 7-inch side of things with a price that may or may not compete, depending on which rumor you go by.
So did Page shed any light on what might or might not be coming? Not so much.
Here's his answer:
I think that we're very excited about tablets. I think, you know, there's a number of Android tablets out there. Obviously, we have strong competition there as well. I think you've seen us really invest substantially in things like Google Play, which really gives you great access to entertainment, media, books and videos and so on, as well as the apps. And we think that's an important component on what we're doing.
I think there's also, obviously, there's been a lot of success on some lower-priced tablets that run Android — maybe not the full Google version of Android. But we definitely believe that there's going to be a lot of success at the lower end of the market, as well, with lower-priced products that will be very significant. It's definitely an area we think is quite important and that we're quite focused on.
Not that we expected him to blurt out future plans or anything. Far from it. But you can't help but wonder that that says about the current state of Android tablets when Google's CEO trumpets the low-end ones that do more to muddy the waters than propel the ecosystem forward.
Verizon will likely introduce shared data plans by mid 2012, CFO Fran Shammo said at an investor conference on Monday. Shammo didn’t give many details about the oft-discussed introduction of family data plans, but he did confirm that such options will be an important part of Verizon’s LTE network strategy.
FierceWireless obtained a transcript of Shammo’s comments at the conference, and quoted him as saying:
“This is going to be a long-term migration into where we want to get data plan sharing, but this will be more of a 4G play for us and I think it will be critical for us. And you’ll see something launched–even [Verizon CEO] Lowell [McAdam] alluded to it–you’ll see something launched mid-year this year from us.”
Shared data plans would allow customers to pay for one data package and split its use among various devices. A family of four could then have a combined 20 GB of data that everyone could share rather than limit each phone to 5 GB. That way, the Mom and Dad who only use 1 GB each could donate their remaining data to kids who are more likely to watch Netflix, video chat, stream music, and do other activities that consume more data. (I’ve been on family plans on Sprint where I accounted for the vast majority of data consumed.)
It could also come in handy for single-plan users with multiple devices. I currently have a Galaxy Nexus on Verizon and tether when I need to use data on my Galaxy Tab 10.1, but I limit that activity because I don’t want to consume too much data. I would never sign-up for a contract on my tablet, but if Verizon had a reasonable price for combined devices, I’d be more willing to consider it.
AT&T and Sprint have also flirted with the idea of shared data plans, but Verizon is the first to explicitly state when it will introduce it. Expect to see offers made to new and existing subscribers in late spring or early summer.
Yesterday, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse made comments that suggested that the company throttles the top 1% of its customers who use the most mobile data. That was in direct contradiction to the massive ad campaign that Sprint has used since 2010 to say that its
Google’s director of Android global partnerships, John Lagerling, addressed the issue of patent lawsuits against Google’s partners while speaking at a Pacific Crest investor conference. At a time when everyone under the sun is suing everyone else, I assume Mr. Lagerling felt the need to explain to investors that Google does have a strategy to assist and protect Android from legal issues, though he didn’t give much detail. His take on the subject:
Without going into too much detail, I do think that we have very strong paths that we can take to protect the values of Android that we have built through the open-source Apache 2 license with our partners. Obviously, Google doesn’t build — we don’t build phones and devices, but we had a vested interest in protecting the values of the Android ecosystem.
So when our partners are being attacked by aggressors, which we see as materially unfounded, it’s something that we join up together with our partners to resolve. And we have, I think, several options that we can take that will help protect the values of Android.
So again, we want to protect innovation. Patents were supposed to be there to enable innovation and monetization of innovation. When it’s being used in a prospective which is more to, as we see it, stifle innovation, it’s not something that is good for consumers.
Android is the only operating system, modern smart-phone operating system, that exists on devices that cost $200 or less. That is what is enabling the next billion of users of the Internet on mobile in the world. There might be players that are not so excited to see the margins and the prices go down like that and the variety that Android enables, but I think we are very convinced that we will be able to continue and create and protect the value of Android.
This echoes what Eric Schmidt and Larry Page have said, while saying just as little. It stands to reason that Google has a strategy to protect the interests of their partners, and we can only assume that we’ll see it when the time is right. Or on Twitter.