updated 07:50 am EDT, Thu August 18, 2011
ATT steering users towards high-tier unlimited SMS
Newly uncovered AT&T update strategy suggests that the carrier will make the unlimited text messaging plan the only option for new subscribers next week. As of August 21, the $10, 1,000-message plan should disappear and leave only the $20 individual and $30 family unlimited plans. Anyone else will have to pay per use, according to Engadget's screen cap, which at 20 cents per SMS and 30 cents per MMS is designed to steer all but very occasional users into a fixed plan.
Anyone who has one of the lower-cost messaging plans is grandfathered in.
The move partly reflects reality, where many use messaging heavily enough that unlimited is more practical. The "vast majority" of customers prefer it, the company memo insists to employees. It regardless is likely intended to raise the minimum price that customers pay. Carriers regularly use ARPU (average revenue per user) as a gauge of their fiscal success and often believe they can do this by encouraging or pushing more expensive data-based services.
Some of the motivation may come from the shift away from voice. Many customers now don't have to depend as heavily on phone calls and can use fewer minutes than they did in the past, in some cases leading to a lower ARPU. AT&T is also poised to sell the messaging-heavy BlackBerry Torch 9810 the same day and may be keen to catch new subscribers that way.