Alec Saunders has written a long post comparing the rates for data plans and carrier revenues internationally called Talking Turkey on Canadian Data. Alec brings out the numbers behind the point that I’ve been making based on instinct for some time now – the problem with exorbitant data rates isn’t just that people WANT more data or somehow deserve it – which is how it’s usually portrayed. The problem with high data rates is actually that the carriers are leaving huge revenues on the table over (it seems) some kind of “we DESERVE to be able to meter every byte” principle. Canadian carriers are not acting in the best interests of consumers or their shareholders by being so intransigent on this issue.
Late last week Shel Israel wrote an An Open Letter to the Twitter Guys. He’s right on, and his post stands in stark contrast to the chatter a couple of weeks ago that Twitter proves that the only important thing is to aggregate users – leaving aside a biz plan for later.
No one seems to care about mobile Twitter (which seems insane to me), but my 250/week limit was reached in the early evening today – Tuesday. The limit is simply a cost-cutting measure by a company bleeding money on every tweet. The problem for Twitter is that I can easily defect – everyone I get messages from (more or less) is on Facebook, and I can subscribe to their status updates on my mobile – half the time they come from Twitter anyhow.
Part of the problem may be that US companies are backed by US VC – and so they focus primarily on US adoption and usage. The social networking world in general makes that a very dangerous position to take – social network adoption rates are generally lower in the US than most other “rich” countries. A company that is primarily concerned with US results for a US exit will throw the rest of us under the bus pretty quickly.
…And I’m not referring to the Macworld keynote failure they experienced.
Sometime in the last day or so, Twitter put in place a new policy that effectively breaks the service for everyone outside of the US. Details are available at this Twitter Support page.
Essentially, there’s now a limit of 250 twits via SMS per week. A lot of people don’t seem to care about Twitter via SMS – they call it simply “micro-blogging” whereas the mobile part of it – say, “mobile micro-blogging” has always been THE key distinction between Twitter and, say, a normal link blog or whatever. The mobile experience is at the very core of what Twitter is – so these limits are very much a problem.
The other thing is that the 250 limit is extremely low – I reached it at some point today and I only follow 37 people! I hope they reach a more acceptable resolution to whatever problem they were having with non-US carriers soon – any social networking application that is US-only is pretty much irrelevant.
Update: by the way I know that there has been a limit for a long time in places that don’t have a short code – what’s new is that even places that have a short code – and therefore an agreement with carriers – now have the same limits.
A couple of days ago we had big news about Canadian wireless spectrum – today, the news is from South of the border in the US. Google has long been rumoured to have been preparing to enter the auction, and today we learn that Google [has confirmed their] Spectrum Bid. The rumour mill will now turn to wild speculation about Google’s intentions for wireless spectrum should they succeed in winning at auction.
Industry Canada divulged plans for the upcoming auction of additional wireless spectrum: Government Opts for More Competition in the Wireless Sector. The good news is that they have set aside a good proportion of the new spectrum to new entrants into the Canadian market, as well as mandating things like shared tower space (for antennas). Hopefully this will put some price pressure on the incumbents in the Canadian wireless industry – Rogers, Telus, and Bell.
Update: Thomas Purves has written a post about this at StartUpNorth which lays out some of the implications of this announcement.
Lots of words today throughout both the blogs and the regular media about Kindle, Amazon’s e-book reader that was launched today. It’s a testament to Amazon’s juice that anyone’s paying attention at all – e-book readers in the past have been greeted mostly by crickets.
Is it going to keep our attention? That’s harder to say. It seems that the specs are reasonably interesting – long battery life, decent (though not exceptional) storage capacity, interesting (if fussy) form factor.
Beyond that, there’s a huge differentiator – the built-in EVDO magic means that it can be a standalone device that nevertheless has very good access to a potentially very deep well of material.
The devil, however, is always in the details. To do what Amazon is doing requires pretty heavy DRM and very controlled pathways into (and out of) the device. The main comparison has been to the iPod – but there’s a huge difference (one that Gruber’s Daring Fireball also mentioned): you can’t get your own content in there. Other than high-production-value game consoles (and even those have opened up recently), can you think of a single other successful platform that has been tied to a single content supplier?
On the Internet, content may be king… but we’ve learned in the last 4 years or more that a LOT of that content is going to be my own in some way – my own writing, or at the very least, my own collection (or playlist). Along the long tail, the things that I make myself become just as important to me as the things I can buy, and curating all of that is the primary way of interacting with the long tail. If you assume that the long tail (of text) refers only to things that can be bought… I think it’s a vision of the long tail that might seem reasonable but will confound most users.
I just canceled my Rogers data plan. I finally had a come to reality moment, and I decided that a tiny (3Mb) data plan was actually worse than none at all. When you have a tiny plan, you are always conscious of each and every link you click on and email you download – to the point of distraction, really. And since you pay for overages at an even higher rate, a mistake can be costly. In actual practice, what that meant was that I wasn’t using my mobile data at all. So I decided to stop paying the insane service fee Rogers charges – $25 a month. I’d rather save my money than use a premium service whose very design makes it almost unusable.
I would still love to have a data plan, but one that is a lot more useful than Rogers’ current plans. I wonder if I’ll ever get the chance.