This week has been a disappointing one for critics of the wireless industry. First, Motorola launched its new CLIQ handset. The CLIQ, along with many of Motorola’s future offerings, will run on Google’s Android operating system. Motorola’s last hit phone, the RAZR, was released in 2004, and since then the company has taken a dive in terms of unit sales and market share. Motorola also plans to launch a second Android device (codenamed “Sholes”) for Verizon in the coming weeks, and will incorporate the open OS in many of its upcoming handsets.
Next, the Sprint network announced an unprecedented new subscriber plan. Deemed the “Any Mobile, Anytime” plan, for $69.99 a month, customers can place calls to any mobile phone in the U.S. regardless of carrier. Each of the “Big Four” wireless carriers has a roughly equivalent and equally priced standard package of about 450 anytime minutes, unlimited texting and data. Now, Sprint is upping the ante by tossing the “My Circle/Faves/A-List” restrictions and giving customers unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling. You can bet that this plan will be particularly popular among younger demographics that have eschewed land lines.
Will the mobile industry’s critics please stand up? As I’ve said before, competition among wireless carriers is alive and healthy. Companies are continuing to add more features and perks to their service packages. Just a couple of years ago, “in-network” calling was unheard of – you were charged for any and all calls you made. The iPhone launched in 2007 with a sticker price of $500; today you can get one for either $200 or $99. The number of Internet-capable phones on the market today is remarkable, with many offerings for under $100 (I just got my Blackberry for $50).
Claims that there isn’t enough competition among wireless service providers are preposterous. The last thing we need is the FCC or Congress to meddle with the wireless market.