Friday, July 11, 2008

Front page text on texts

Post Details:
• Free daily publishes front page editorial on texting charges
• My texting story
• An editorial on the FRONT?!


Yesterday (7/10), I noticed something unique on the cover of the Tampa Bay Times – called tbt* and a free daily published by the St. Petersburg Times. It was an editorial. While not a hard-hitting political topic, the editorial did catch my eye – it was a photo of the new (I assume) iPhone surrounded by a sea of text with the headline “Text Robbery” at the top.

The full text follows:


A tbt* EDITORIAL
TEXT ROBBERY
It really doesn’t cost the cell phone companies anything to transmit a text message, so why do they keep jacking up the price?


The new Apple iPhone 3G, which comes out tomorrow, is just the latest example of this gouging. iPhone buyers used to get 200 text messages as part of the basic voice and data plan; now they will pay $5 extra for those 200 texts.

And if they go over the limit, look out. Since 2005, rates to receive and send a sin­gle text message on the major phone net­works have doubled, from 10 cents to 20. (As blogger Marguerite Reardon noted in a posting on cnet.com, that’s a bigger in­crease in the last three years than even the price of gasoline.)

There’s genius in the phone companies’ strat­egy, of course. They are forcing consumers to fork out for $20 or so a month for an unlimited texting plan, or to risk a budget-breaking bill.

Text messaging is essen­tially an alternative form of e-mail for people who can’t afford a smart phone. In other words, a lot of younger people. And while smart-phone users send and receive gazillions of bytes of data, they’re not paying much more each month than the poor soul confined to sending a 160-character (max.) text to his girlfriend that he’s running late.

Someone needs to send the phone guys a message. — The Editors, tbt*



For teenagers and their parents who pay the cell phone bills, it’s tough to swallow that texts are so expensive. Even 10 cents per text was ridiculous. When my plan only included 250 messages (sent and received) per month, I would very carefully try not to go over, but it was very hard not to. My sister especially had a hard time - once or twice slapped with a triple-digital text overage charge (my mother was not happy).

Luckily for me, I have unlimited texts now.

The editorial brings up a great point though. Overage charges are the bread and butter for cellular companies. Everyone will at one point or another go over their minutes, their texting allotment, or other digital date services. AT&T and Apple really understand this. Why give something away for free when customers would – begrudgingly, of course – pay for the service? The other interesting item with the new touchable phone is that, while the phone is less expensive, all the subscription fees have increased. Thus, the phone really is not less expensive at all.

So be warned cell phone users.

One final thing that got me thinking on this Friday… and it’s not just about the message but the editorial/viewpoint idea. Most times one would only find an editorial on the front page of a European newspaper. The front page is sacred space normally reserved for news. But then again, the editorial is very timely and coincides with the new iPhone 3G launch today (Friday). Here’s hoping the new iPhone users buy an unlimited plan.

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