AT&T's new user plan: Buy another phone!

For the past decade, the big U.S. wireless carriers have been long-term commitment matchmakers, of a sort. In order to get you to buy expensive phones for affordable prices, cell phone companies have convinced customers to 'tie the knot' with their fancy new gadgets. Now, it seems, cell phone companies are becoming more like divorce attorneys. They want you to break up with your phone.

One week after wireless carrier T-Mobile announced a Smartphone-upgrades-allowed plan, AT&T has come out with its own competing plan. The details and requirements and costs for AT&T's plan are different than T-Mobile's Jump, but it has in common the ability to upgrade your phone more often, instead of locking customers in to long-term plans.  Why are all the phone companies making the same decisions?  Mobile phone analyst Tero Kuittinen told the New York Times that the problem is there are no 'killer' features in new phones and so users aren't upgrading as frequently:

“We’re entering a barrier of slow innovation,” Mr. Kuittinen, with Alekstra, said. “We’ve reached the limits of the camera and display.” Traditional cellphones with black and white screens had a similar slowdown before color displays came out, he added.

 

About the author

Stan Alcorn is a multimedia journalist in New York City. He has reported for NPR and WNYC, where he has focused on business and the New York tech scene.
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