Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sprint's obnoxious "EVERYTHING" policy...

Hey, I'm all for a great deal. Sprint's new "Everything" plans that debuted with the first Samsung Instinct are a great deal for the services offered - Unlimited data, text, pic mail, GPS (telenav), Blackberry services, Sprint TV, you name it. The top tier plan even includes unlimited minutes, and at only $99 is far less than any similar spec'ed plan on any other carrier.

The problem is, its not a great deal for everyone.
Some people don't want to pay for services they don't need. Maybe someone already has a GPS and doesn't care for Telenav, or doesn't beleive in the power of SMS. Heck, some people just want a smartphone for use as a PDA, and don't even want a data package for it!

Apparently, Sprint doesn't care about those people when it comes to their new line up. The Instinct requires that you have one of their "Everything" plans, or else they won't allow your phone on the network. Even if you paid full retail for it.
Perhaps that is because the Instinct was originally designed to directly combat the iPhone, and the primary selling point is that it was able to do things the iPhone couldn't at the time (3G, GPS, record and share video, etc). If they wanted iPhone customers to be impressed, they need every Instinct to be able to show off everything it can do.
Don't like that? Don't buy an Instinct!

The problem is, it didn't end there... The new Palm Pre also requires an Everything plan to be active on the network. That means that if you've owned a Palm for years, waiting for that big new OS overhaul they've been talking about, you're going to need a new plan- even if you love your grandfathered plan that you've had for years.

Some people don't WANT Telenav GPS or Sprint TV... maybe people don't even use texts, or want Data on their line (there are, beleive it or not, people who just bought Palm Treos to use as an organizer while also being a phone- not necessarily interested in the "Smartphone" aspects of it). Some people have been with Sprint for years because they have an old plan that suits them like a glove and don't want to change anything!
Sprint doesn't care about people like that, apparently.

Sprint will tell you that in order to get the most out of your new popular high-end phone, you MUST have an unlimited services plan... implying that it is for your own good, and not worth having without it. Besides, its such a great deal... and I won't argue that, it IS a great deal. But only if you are in the market for such services.

Many business professionals I know have been drooling over the Palm Pre, but currently only pay for minutes and data (a $15 add on). Some of them would have to pay almost double their current monthly bill for the privelage of using the new Palm phone, just to use it the same way they are using their older devices now.
That just doesn't seem fair... since when is it a requirement that we take advantage of EVERY feature a phone has?

Why don't they just require every Samsung Rant or Moto RAZR to have data, sms and Navigation?
Better yet, why is it that new Windows Mobile handsets, such as the Touch Pro, which rivals the feature set of the Pre or Instinct (and then some), does NOT require an Everything plan?

The answer, I think, is because people wouldn't pay it. They'd jump ship to another carrier and pay less to use the same phone with the only features they care about. So why enforce the policy on certain handsets?

Although they've never officially explained their policy, I think I may understand Sprint's logic behind it:
The only other popular phone to date that has special plan requirements like this is the iPhone, on AT&T. Since the iPhone is exclusive to AT&T, the carrier charges whatever they want for it because people can't get it anywhere else.

The Instinct and Pre are currently exclusive to Sprint. Sprint is pulling the same shtick, albeit charging less for more features than AT&T.

So, the good news about this is that the Palm Pre will not be exclusive to Sprint for long... Verizon is slated to get it by the end of the year. The question is, what will Sprint do then? Will they lift the requirement and allow grandfathered users or plain ol' minutes-only plans to upgrade?

An even more interesting question is how they will view the upcoming Android handsets announced... Android is already available in 2 variations on T-Mobile. The operating system isn't exclusive to Sprint. However, the hardware will be, at least in the US.
The two rumored handsets are the HTC Hero, which has been winning hearts of reviewers over in Europe for a while already, and a new Samsung called the InstinctQ.
I would go out on a limb here and guess that Sprint won't enforce the new plans since people can satisfy their Android itch on another carrier. However, Samsung's title of "Instinct" concerns me. The previous Instinct models were exclusive and required the new plans... Is the name here a sign of things to come?
And the HTC Hero is not the same Google-branded version of the OS that T-mobile has... the HERO sports HTC's new Sense-UI that has gadget nerds swooning. Sprint may be the exclusive carrier of that, as well.

So what's it going to be, Sprint? At least there's always the new Windows Mobile handsets for the rest of us... it'd be nice to have options, though.