Will Data Plans Squash the Cloud?
Today I noticed an article on IT World stating Verizon will soon eliminate unlimited data plans. The article does have an update stating that they discovered a yet released screen shot of Verizon’s site stating that current customers will be grandfathered in with unlimited data plans. That is similar to what AT&T did.
However the smartphone market is growing. According to my mother (an avid dumb phone user) it is getting increasingly more difficult to find a plain dumb phone. I know mom’s situation isn’t exactly scientific, but the Technolog reports smartphone shipping in the fourth quarter of 2010 rose over 87% compared to fourth quarter 2009. Now I would never say my mom is wrong, but Technolog does, they say smartphones haven’t cannibalized dumb phones yet. However, mom’s experience trying to find a replacement dumb phone could be the canary in the cave. Because Technolog reports interest in dumb phone is lagging in some areas of the country. Now if you were a cell phone maker what type of phone are you going to make, the hot smartphone or the stagnet dumb phone?
Right at the time the smartphone market is growing, the two largest cell phone companies will have capped dataplans or high cost overage dataplans.
Enter the cloud. As David Pogue mentions in his blog post, everything now days is referred to as being “in the cloud” so much so that marketers and people are just using it refer to things being online. But as more and more people get tablet devices like the Google Chrome or the iPad where you can’t store things on the hard drive, the cloud begins to really emerge. In fact Apple’s iCloud is a free service that syncs your email, address book, calendar, bookmarks, photos, songs, etc. to all of your Apple devices using the cloud.
The cloud can be great but it requires Internet access and that is being actively throttled or capped by cell phone companies. But that is using 3G or cell networks to get your data. You can still hop on a wifi hotspot like at home and download data to your glutonous content. Oops not anymore, Pogue reports home data plans are starting to get capped. (I can attest to this, 4 months after we upped our home data plan and dumped Uverse for TV service but kept it for Internet, they are talkinga bout capping data to home data hogs.)
So if the trend in data providers is to cap our data, or make it outrageously expensive to download large amounts then how is the cloud supposed to continue to thrive. How is a a service like Apple’s iCloud full of all sorts of data heavy items like music, photos, movies, etc. going to work with a restrictor plate on?
Something to think about. Perhaps it is wishful thinking that we will all have to go to the library to access the cloud in the future. But the library doesn’t get its Internet for free either. Some institutions already have restrictor plates on the Internet, many hospitals prohibit video and multi media downloading to due to bandwidth issues. What will happen if academic and public libraries are forced to do the same?