Wednesday, June 2, 2010

AT&T: Morons

And you thought AT&T's corporate management couldn't get any dumber. Just as the Death Star is poised to land millions of new subscribers, they yank the rug out from under their customers by going back to the bad old days of metered billing:

In time for the widely expected launch of a new iPhone model, carrier AT&T Inc. is pulling in the reins on data usage by its customers with smart phones and iPads.

The sole U.S. carrier of the iPhone is introducing two new data plans, starting June 7, with limits on data consumption. They'll replace the $30 per month plan with unlimited usage that it has required for all smart phones, including the iPhone.

With the change AT&T is adopting a carrot-and-stick approach to assuage the data congestion on its network, which has been a source of complaints, especially in cities such as New York and San Francisco that are thick with iPhone users. The new plans will take effect just as Apple is expected to unveil the next generation of its iPhone at an event Monday in San Francisco.

This is stupid in so many ways, even an AP reporter could figure it out:

Paradoxically, the data caps arrive at time when carriers have started to lift the limits on other forms of wireless use, by selling plans with unlimited calling and unlimited text messaging. That's not a big gamble, because not many people have the time to talk phone for eight hours a day or spend every waking minute sending text messages. But smart phones can draw a lot of data, depending one where and how they're used. With the new plans, de la Vega hopes to see high-consumption applications like Internet video being steered toward hot spots, where they don't clog up AT&T's cellular network.

It's just stunning. There's no better example of the monopoly incumbent mentality than a company that sets out to limit how much its customers use the product they're buying from that company. If I may quote last year's epic rant from the Fake Steve Jobs:

Randall, baby. we’ve got a hit on our hands. We’ve got the smartphone equivalent of Meet the Beatles. It’s not like that album was the first rock album ever. It’s not like nobody ever made a band with some guitars and drums before. But it was radical. It was new. They took old forms and made them new. Same with us. We didn’t invent the smartphone or the PDA or the music player or the Web browser. We just made them better. We made them new. We changed the [bleeping] world, Randall.

And when I say that “we” have a hit on our hands, I’m really giving you way too much credit, because let’s be honest, the success of iPhone has nothing to do with you. In fact, iPhone is a smash hit in spite of your network, not because of it. That’s how good we are here at Apple — we’re so good that even you and your team of Bell System frigtards can’t stop us. You know what it’s like being your business partner? It’s like trying to swim the English Channel with a boat anchor tied to my legs. And yes, in case you’re not following me, in that analogy, you, my friend, are the [bleeping] boat anchor.

So let’s talk traffic. We’ve got people who love this goddamn phone so much that they’re living on it. Yes, that’s crushing your network. Yes, 3% of your users are taking up 40% of your bandwidth. You see this as a bad thing. It’s not. It’s a good thing. It’s a blessing. It’s an indication that people love what we’re doing, which means you now have a reason to go out and double or triple or quadruple your damn network capacity. Jesus! I can’t believe I’m explaining this to you. You’re in the business of selling bandwidth. That pipe is what you sell. Right now what the market is telling you is that you can sell even more! Lots more! Good Lord. The world is changing, and you’re right in the sweet spot.

I would have paid serious money to have been in the real Steve Jobs' office when he got this news. You think he was mad at the kid who lost his prototype iPhone? Forget it, man. The reaction he must have had to the Death Star's dinosaur thinking must have made that explosion look like a damp squib by comparison.

Hey, AT&T: I've got three letters for you: A-O-L. They were the last would-be Masters of Internet Access who thought they owned their customers, instead of the other way around. How well did that work out for them?


  1. I posted this at Vodka Pundit
    Its good to note, that for smart phones, data is unlimited with verizon. For now. I think all the other carriers will follow suite, and this will be the industry standard.

    Its stupid, and these phone companies are so greedy, that you can never expect getting more for less. Just paying more for the same or less. I use around 7 gigs monthly on my droid, and thats without breaking a sweat. I will not have a smart phone any more if the prices do what ATT did.

  2. We dumped AT&T two years ago for Verizon. Never looked back.

  3. I think the real stupidity is all the people now paying $30 / month, who are going to switch to paying $15 instead.

    The 3% will keep their unlimited accounts. The 40 - 50% (SWAG) who never get close to using 200 MB / month will say $15 / month.

    Win - win for users, lose - lose for ATT