Ina Fried

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Wireless Carrier Tries to Make Cellphone Bill Fun

Swedish customers of cellphone carrier 3 have access to a new app that is trying to make fun out of a typically un-fun experience — the monthly bill.

The Android and iPhone app, created with design firm Fjord, offers a bunch of different visualizations, including a look at data use by time, and which contacts are gobbling up the most of your minutes.

Customers can also see trends over the past six months, as well as how they compare to a typical customer of the Hutchison Whampoa-owned carrier.

“With My 3, we wanted to do something completely new to help our customers really understand their mobile phone usage,” 3 Sweden VP Johan Gertell said in a statement. “By partnering with Fjord, we have created a beautiful, innovative way to give our customers access to their data and show our commitment to transparency.”

Showing customers how they use their data is a particularly important task for carriers as they aim to shift from unlimited plans to those that require customers to manage a pool of megabytes or gigabytes.

The notion of a gigabyte of data use is far more difficult to understand — let alone track — than the idea of a minute of voice use.

Here’s a video from Fjord showing the app in action.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus