Ina Fried

Recent Posts by Ina Fried

Those Family Data Plans Are Finally Coming to the U.S. Next Year

The days of needing a data plan for each wireless device one owns may be numbered.

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said on Wednesday that he expects his wireless unit to be offering some form of shared data plans by sometime next year. Such plans would allow multiple devices to share a single pool of megabytes or gigabytes.

“I think in 2012 we’ll see it,” McAdam said. “We’ve been working on this for a couple of years, frankly.”

McAdam noted that the company expects some customers to be viewing content on four or even five devices.

“Customers don’t want — and neither do we, by the way — want an individual account for each one of those devices,” McAdam said. “It drives them crazy and it would raise our costs a lot. Getting to one bill and having account-level pricing is the right way to go.”

AT&T’s Ralph de la Vega said at our D9 conference in June that his company is also working on such a plan and expects it to be available before too long.

“We’re working on one,” he said at the time. “It will be soon. I can’t comment on a quarter (when it will launch) but it will be soon.”

Such plans have been widely anticipated and have popped up in a few places already. France Telecom, for example, is offering a couple of different plans in certain European markets.

McAdam sees a continued shift away from feature phones and into smartphones.

“I don’t see any reason why 70 percent (penetration) isn’t in our future,” McAdam said.

McAdam also defended the company’s practice of introducing high-end phones at prices higher than the $199 entry-level iPhone 4S price.

“They are selling very well,” he said of those $299 Android phones. “To me, the issue is ‘are we going to have the applications that justify it?’ And if we do, then I think we will be fine.”

One thing that is going to decline, McAdam acknowledged, is the revenue the company gets from things like text messaging, amid the rise of third-party voice- and data-messaging applications.

“I do expect SMS to be under attack,” McAdam said, noting that has already started to happen in some European countries.

“We haven’t seen as much of it on our side, frankly, but I think it is going to come,” McAdam said. “It’s kind of like long distance and the other stuff you saw fade away.”

The key, he said, is always having the next great thing, whether that is video or adding wireless to new kinds of devices.

On the mobile payments front, McAdam said things are reaching the prototyping stage with the Isis consortium that Verizon is a part of, with trials slated for next year.

“That should be significant deployment by the end of next year,” he said. “I think it becomes a real revenue stream for us in 2013.”

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google