AT&T Pits Kindlers against iPhonies

15Oct09

Well, no one ever doubted  AT&T knows where the money is …

Back in May, there were rumors that AT&T might reach out to the iPhone crowd with lower rates. Laterly, though, we’ve heard that AT&T views iPhone customers as “problems,” because they use the 3G services they’re paying for.

Now we find that AT&T’s discovered a more lucrative market: the Amazon Kindle. Because the data charges are hidden inside the book costs, Kindle customers are lulled into believing that their data plan is “free.” But it’s not! Not to the customers, who pay through their book purchase price, and not to Amazon, who actually writes the checks to AT&T. But this party-game of finger pointing serves the necessary smoke-screen role for proper consumer gouging, in a way that the iPhone data plans do not.

When AT&T starts making noises about throttling iPhone data usage, when AT&T is undismayed by a call drop rate deep in the double digits, when your iPhone suddenly, ridiculously claims you’re “not subscribed to a cellular data service,” as mine has ever since last Friday, then as an iPhone user, you know who you’re paying for this service failure, and you’re able to do all those annoying things like calling customer service. This apparently raises expenses at AT&T, presumably because they have to hire many actual people to ignore the calls, instead of a limited few, or perhaps just a little redirect to /dev/null, to presumably ignore Amazon raising similar complaints, if any.

How about you, iPhone user? Are you using more than your fair share? Yes, I know, your data plan says “unlimited,” but apparently “unlimited” stops somewhere, perhaps at the $2 to $8 per MB Amazon’s passing along (I’m guesstimating one book at about one MB)?

Easy to check:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Go to General
  3. Go to Usage
  4. Look down at “Cellular Network Data”
  5. Divide by how much you’ve paid during the same period for your data plan

Are you “hogging” more bandwidth than 1MB/$8? I’d be interested to collect results in the comments section.

Unfortunately, I can’t contribute my own numbers, as I lost all my history, settings, and downloads hard-resetting the device, hoping to clear the “not subscribed” problem. Fruitlessly.

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3 Responses to “AT&T Pits Kindlers against iPhonies”

  1. 2 jrep

    Now that it’s a few days down the road from my phone reset, I can do some math. I seem to use almost exactly “900 minutes / month” talk time, the dividing line between basic and premium AT&T plans, and virtually no messaging. I likewise seem to use about 150MB/month data.

    AT&T (att.com) shows I could get that talk service for $60/month, and skip the messaging, and add on a data plan for $30/mo.

    Figuring just the cost of the add-on data plan, that’s 150MB/month, $30/month: I’m paying $0.20/MB for my data.

    Even if you “charge” the whole plan fee to my data usage, $90/150MB is $0.60/MB. Or $0.30/book.

    So, yeah, it seems like AT&T makes a lot more off their “free” Kindle downloads than they do off my “paid” iPhone data plan.

  2. 3 jrep

    Early tweet-back (http://twitter.com/storming/status/4894113191) suggests a typical book is only about 1/2 MB, so maybe “unlimited” stops even sooner, say $4/MB.



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