Vodafone Chief Predicts Flat Rate Pricing

Rather an odd story in Friday’s London Evening Standard. Hard on the heels of 3’s announcement¬†on pricing for its X-Series, Arun Sarin, CEO of Vodafone “predicts” that flat rate monthly pricing would be the norm “within a matter of years”.

To someone who doesn’t work for an operator, this is a little puzzling. I mean, if it’s truly inevitable, as Mr Sarin suggests, why not just do it? What purpose is there¬†to delaying the inevitable and particularly when any analyst and pundit you speak to agrees that it’s holding back the usage of the mobile web.

Paul Goode at M:Metrics was doing a speaking slot at the Visiongain Mobile Advertising Conference last week, which I was also presenting at. He told a story of a colleague who got a new phone and was merrily putting it through its paces for his colleagues at work. He streamed a couple of videos and surfed the net generally, only to find a few weeks later that his lunchtime playing had resulted in a £41 ($81) charge from his friendly, cuddly operator.

He was also overheard complaining later about the charges, saying that he didn’t even actually download the videos and had nothing to show for his money – and that “anyway, it wasn’t even porn!”. I wonder if it had been porn, if he’d have felt any happier?

Bur seriously, this was a chance to¬†create a young, passionate advocate for the mobile web and what happened? The operator created someone who’s going to go round warning people NOT to use it as they’ll be shafted with a hefty and unexpected bill.

At the Library House’s MediaTech¬†(I’ll be writing more about my little speaking tour in due course) I also had a chance to play with one of¬†3’s X-Series phones and I’m pleased to say that the product is as stunning as the price. Really fast, nice UI – the future of mobility has arrived at last on a phone.

Like many, I’ve gone in for a fair amount of criticism¬†of 3 over the years,¬†never gratuitously, I hope, but¬†trying to be constructive in my comments. But¬†they’ve done themselves proud with this.

I only hope that the other operators start to follow suit and stop incentivising their customers not to use their data products. Let’s hope that 2007 will the the year that the walls come tumbling down, as well as fixed data plans being offered as standard. Then we’ll see the mobile web really start to rock.

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