Among the ways to cut corners and pinch pennies in these hard economic times is to reduce monthly expenses. On the small business front this has meant cutting down on some features on mobile phone plans, or even going with pre-paid phones. However, the drawback of going pre-paid has usually meant that you’re stuck with a low-end phone that doesn’t exactly offer much beyond making calls.
The times are indeed changing and pre-paid handsets aren’t limited to the bottom-end models. According to a new survey from the New Millennium Research Council, many smartphones are now starting to become available in pre-paid packages.
Some options suggested by NMRC include:
- Straight Talk: Wal-Mart’s own brand, which is owned by TracFone Wireless, has rolled out the Samsung R810C “Finesse,” a touchscreen phone that can run apps, includes a 2 megapixel camera and offers a full QWERTY keyboard, as well as Blutooth and high-speed data access.
- Verizon: The Big V offers numerous smartphones with regular contracts, and is now exploring the pre-paid option as well. Among the more advanced pre-paid handsets offered is the Samsung Intensity, which features a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, 1000-entry phone book and two e-mail addresses.
And while prepaid phone providers T-Mobile and Boost Mobile are still getting in the game, each is starting to offer more upscale and advanced phones as well. Boost has introduced the Samsung i465, which includes a QWERTY keyboard. I’ll be sure to watch the pre-paid space and see how this evolves in 2010. Likely, we’ll see even more smartphones, as well as advanced feature phones in the pre-paid space.
Should Microsoft Move On From Mobile
Making the rounds last week was a discussion on whether Microsoft should throw in the towel and abandon the mobile market. Part of the problem says Mark Anderson, writer of the influential Strategic News Service, in an interview last week with The New York Times is that Microsoft lacks the consumer DNA.
Anderson suggests that Microsoft is more in the enterprise category with IBM, Dell and Cisco than with the consumer camp that includes the likes of Apple, Google, Samsung and LG. While this is still debatable, the issue isn’t so cut and dry. Who could have predicted just five years ago that Apple would be dominating the mobile phone space and Motorola would be on the ropes?
Technology evolves and companies that are up one moment are down the next. One factor that shouldn’t be ruled out is whether Google will get too big and draw some notice from regulators, while on the other hand, there’s a question of whether consumers will continue to embrace Apple’s iPhone year after year? If a product could be perfect from the beginning and never require innovation we’d still be driving Model T cars and 78 rpm records would be good enough. But technology moves forward and people want something new.
And before we decide that Microsoft is down for the count let’s see how Windows Mobile 7 shapes up. This could be the next best thing, or just the next thing. That will be a major factor on whether Microsoft has lost the consumer battle.