Verizon is getting ready to roll out a new cheap cell plan nationally, while Sprint is upping its early termination fees in time for the iPhone to come onto its network.
Sprint is raising termination penalties as high as $350 per phone if you want out of your contract. That fee had previously been $200.
As I mentioned, Sprint is about to have the iPhone. As you probably know, iPhones are heavily subsidized for the consumer by the wireless carrier. In this case, Sprint is taking a loss of $400 to $500 on every handset, so they’ve got a lot of exposure there. (Many of their Androids are subsidized to tune of $300.)
So you get a good price on the iPhone with the handcuff of a contract and those early termination fees if you want out. That business model is typical of the contract players in the industry. But the industry is splitting between contract and non-contract plans.
Speaking of no contracts, it’s now official that Verizon rolled out its Unleashed service nationwide on Sept. 15.
Unleashed offers unlimited calling, texting, web surfing and data for $50 month with no contract. But the phones being offered through Unleashed are basic with no frills. The idea is to appeal to just the price sensitive, not those who want fancy phones. (Editor’s note: There is an indemnification on the Verzion website stating: “Mobile Web does not provide full web browsing.”)
So the trade-off with Unleashed is this: You get the best cell phone network in the nation, a better price and no contract. But you have to settle for a crummy phone. That’s a choice for you to make.
I’ve been on book tour around the country for Living Large in Lean Times. During the five weeks I’ve been out, I’ve taken a lot of pictures with people who came to see me. That’s given me a chance to remember the changes I’ve seen in how people take pictures over the years.
It used to be that when I went on book tour, it was all disposable film cameras. Then you had the digital cameras. Then three years ago, it was the camera phones. This time out, I saw a lot of smart phones.
I must have seen every possible smart phone that’s out there! The coolest one to me? The EVO 3D, which takes still photos in three dimensions that you wouldn’t believe.
Editor’s note: This segment originally aired Sept. 7, 2011