It wasn’t that many years ago when AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and other cell phone companies charged you by the call minute with a confusing array of monthly plans. The cell phone companies decided which phones you could buy, how much you’d pay, and even charged for ringtones and text messages.
How did that change?
Thank You, Apple
Apple’s iPhone not only changed the smartphone industry, it scattered former handset market leaders into near oblivion.
Along the way, Apple also disrupted the cell phone business and turned AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and others into simple purveyors of dumb wireless pipes.
Look at the most popular smartphone plans available today on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint.
The growing popularity of the so-called all-you-can-eat plans highlight the simplicity that has overtaken the industry.
Voice and text messaging are included and unlimited. Plans are broken down by how much data your smartphone needs each month.
Gone are the days of crazy cell phone plans with evening minutes, weekend minutes, and extra charges for text messages, and outrageous prices for ringtones.
For the most part, cell phone companies these days are not much different than the phone companies of yesteryear– purveyors of dumb pipes, though in this case, dumb wireless pipes.
Who Did This?
It was Apple. How? By revolutionizing the smartphone with the original iPhone, forcing the rest of the industry to adopt the iPhone’s unique look and feel (and growing data consumption), and by pushing AT&T into a simpler pricing strategy.
The dust has mostly settled in the last year or so, and cell phone companies have been reduced to owners of wireless pipes where almost anyone with a smartphone can get on board, sometimes without paying a dime up front.
While cell phone company executives say they want to get rid of the subsidized model which lowers the barrier to entry for customers, the public is smart enough to know there is no real subsidy, and competition between carriers is sufficient that even the best smartphone models– iPhone 5s– can be hand for nothing down, and many plans are reduced to no-contract status.
Thank you, Apple. You revolutionized yet another staid old industry.