T-Mobile's Danger Money
T-Mobile U.S. will bust by a mile the $100 a month all-the-data-you-can-eat barrier in the U.S. with its expected October launch of the Danger Inc. HipTop device (see Biff! Bang! Pow! It's Danger!), according to a research note from RBC Capital Markets.
The Danger device, which T-Mobile is calling Sidekick, will be offered with a $40 per month plan that includes unlimited data usage -- email, Web surfing, and messaging -- as well as a fairly generous allocation of voice minutes. At the moment, unlimited usage data-only packages from carriers such as Verizon Wireless cost $100 a month.
It's not so surprising that T-Mobile is the first to offer this kind of package, as the HipTop is aimed at a much younger end of the market than some other smartphones, such as Handspring Inc.'s Treo, most of which are targeted at the business user.
However, the combination of the monthly price and the $200 HipTop/Sidekick could find fans beyond its core market, according to Jonathan Atkin, senior analyst of telecom Services at RBC.
"While the initial marketing efforts for Sidekick appear aimed at the 18-25 segment, we believe its email, calendar, and other service features make it potentially as suitable to businesspeople as the Handspring Treo and other higher-priced devices," he writes in the research note.
Aitkin says that, while the $40 a month plan is likely to drive "significant adoption" for T-Mobile, it could also provoke a price war as rival carriers adopt similar pricing plans, all of which could lead to reduced average revenue per user (ARPU) figures across the board.
Frankly, Unstrung thinks that's going to be the trade-off if carriers want to bring wireless data services to a mass market. With $500-plus devices and $100 data-only monthly plans, they'll have a few users bringing in a high ARPU. With $200 devices and $40 plans, they'll have lower ARPUs but, hopefully, many more subscribers.
— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung