Stop Chatting

by Colin Berkshire

The new iPad does not allow FaceTime calls to be made using LTE. FaceTime is the Apple picture phone service that lets you video chat.

Now, most businesses want to sell you their products. When you visit a store they get happier when you buy more things. They start to provide better service and as your arms are full they off to go and get you a shopping cart. At some point when the cart gets pretty heavy a store clerk offers to push your heavy shopping cart for you.

Things are different in the telecom business. They carriers seem terrified that you will actually use their service. Mind you, they want to sell you that 10GB data plan for $80 a month. But then in the most perverse of ways they don’t want you to actually use it.

So, the carriers ask Apple to disable FaceTime out of the fear of how much data you might consume. AT&T asks Apple to disable the tethering service out of the fear that you might connect multiple devices up and use their service. Even if you are on a use-more+pay-more plan the carriers seem terrified that you will use up the bandwidth you have bought and paid for.

To fill the analogy, imagine that you are at Best Buy and you have just loaded the cart up with some things. Then, a clerk comes by and whacks one of the wheels with a hammer so that the cart wobbles as you push it. Later, you enter the flat-screen TV section and inquire about buying a new TV. The clerk then applies grease to the shopping cart handlebar.

What is with the carrier mentality? On the surface they act like they want you to buy their super-great network. Then, once they have you as a customer they seem to do everything possible to keep you from being an even better customer? What sort of MBA thinking is that all about?

In the printing and publishing business we love getting more customers. We love when customers read our stuff. We love when magazines get thicker with more articles and more ads. Yes, those thick magazines cost more to print and they cost more to mail. But we know that behind a thick magazine is a happy customer and a lot of happy advertisers.

What makes the Telcom business one where the carriers seem to do everything possible to keep you from using up their services? Is there actually sound business thinking behind their disabling bandwidth consuming services, or is it just a sadistic desire to dominate the customer relationship?