To the surprise of no one, today Apple unveiled the fourth version of its iconic device: iPhone 4. While some features such as the higher resolution camera, LED flash, and front facing camera qualify more as upgrades that put Apple back on par with leading competitors, others such as the "retina" display and the gorgeous industrial design will maintain Apple's mindshare and market share growth rates.
Apple is going to sell a lot of iPhone 4s. They'll sell them to those who simply have to have the new new thing (many of whom are iPhone owners already), and to iPhone owners who were off contract and waiting for the new version. They'll also sell a lot of iPhone 3GSs, especially to iPhone 3G owners who can't stomach going without iOS 4's multitasking, and also to those for whom $15/month is a manageable addition but $30/month is not. That's a whole lot of good news for AT&T and Apple's other carrier partners, though that good news is more in the form of loyalty than in net additions to their networks.
This morning AT&T announced new data pricing for its mobile customers. Today's $30 per month unlimited use plan will be replaced by two plans:
$15 per month for up to 200 megabytes of data, with additional blocks of 200 MB at $15 each.
$25 per month for up to 2 gigabytes of data, with additional blocks of 1 GB at $10 each.
AT&T's CEO of Consumer, Ralph de la Vega, has publicly suggested on multipleoccasions that network operators need to address the small percentage of subscribers that abuse unlimited usage plans and degrade the experience of others on the network. These suggestions have been met with howls by many, and I expect that we'll see similar reactions to this latest change. But will those reactions be justified? The answer depends on whether you believe AT&T's data on its current data users.
Mark Collins, AT&T's Senior VP of Data and Voice Products, told us that 65% of today's smartphone data users consume less than 200 MB of data per month, and 98% of them use less than 2 GB of data per month. These data plans then represent an opportunity for virtually all of AT&T's data customers to reduce their monthly data charges. For consumer product strategists, this change shows a remarkably (and, for some, surprisingly) customer-centric viewpoint. Why?