Dodging the Bullet

It’s no secret that I’m significantly against the junk that a lot of the carriers setting up to ultimately bleed consumers dry. The mobile space evolved rapidly and, like the banking system, carriers are seeing a great opportunity to sink their teeth into some of that sweet mobile meat. They’re actively working (behind the scenes for now) to create a situation that is incredibly anti-competitive and anti-consumer.

As the Internet evolves and becomes increasingly more mobile, we will undoubtedly begin to see carriers introduce “competitive” mobile internet plans, “tiered” pricing, “premium” services and/or access to certain services, etc. We aren’t seeing that right now because most people access their internet through terrestrial (land-based) wiring. Cable modems, DSL, and fiber are still the de facto standard, but imagine what the Internet landscape will look like next year. How about three years from now? Yeah. Mobile carriers want in on that, and they’ll lie and cheat their way into that system to do so.

So how does the consumer protect him or herself against this impending battle?

My solution, thus far, has been the trifecta of Google Voice, Apple, and another unlikely hero: TracFone

I can hear you saying it right now. “Whoa whoa whoa…TracFone?” Yes, TracFone. Any other prepaid service will do just fine (Net10, StraightTalk, etc.)

To understand my thought process on this, we’re going to have to take a little trip in the Wayback Machine. Here we go.

Not so very long ago, Apple unveiled, with the release of the iPhone 4, a technology (or protocol) it calls “FaceTime.” I predicted a little while ago that Apple will be using this technology as a way to skirt the carriers and get all their iOS devices to level where they are capable of “making a call” to other iOS devices. With a huge number of people around the world using the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad on a daily basis, it wouldn’t be far fetched to think that this can become a way for people to call each other and talk face to face (in case you haven’t noticed, we live in the future). I also predicted that they will be leveraging a rumored update to MobileMe that will essentially be the backbone of this new “service,” routing their FaceTime calls, allowing people to update their statuses so people know when they’re available or busy, etc. Now, the source link is outdated (I chalk that up to iPad 2 media insanity). We’re nearing the end of April and we haven’t heard so much as a peep from Apple. I still stand behind this idea, however.

People have asked me (as they always do), if I’m going to buy the next iPhone. This time, I don’t think so. I don’t think that the iPhone has the same value it did when it was first released, mostly because it comes with a pair of leg irons in the for of a service contract from either AT&T or Verizon. I wouldn’t touch either of those plans with a ten foot pole anymore. I believe that the iPod Touch is where it’s at right now. It does apps, does FaceTime, and any sort of Internet you can throw at it. It doesn’t come with a service contract, it’s thinner, lighter, and comes with higher storage capacity (not that you’ll need it with all this cloud stuff going on, but it’s good to have in case you would like to, oh, I don’t know, watch Star Wars.) If you look at my previous guide to get started with Google Voice, we can take it a step further.

Start there, contact me with any questions, and we’ll scaffold further over the course of the next week. For everyone with every possible phone need, there’s a plan that will work for a fraction of the cost you’re paying now, guaranteed.

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2 Comments on “Dodging the Bullet”

  1. Lucia says:

    I was surprised when I read your very sophisticated and enjoyable article which included the mention of state of the art stuff and then came across the mention of Tracfone, as they are known to have basic phones and to offer the lowest out of pocket plan I’ve ever come across together with terrific coverage in my opinion.
    I just thought you’d like to know that Tracfone has finally gotten with the program so to speak and launched their first touch screen LG800G and their first blackberry look alike qwerty keyboard phone LG500G.

    I think these 2 phones are dirt cheap ($10 ea without the fringe benefits) and I personally think the LG800G is a winner as it has web browsing, bluetooth, 2mp camcorder,MP3,APP capable, MMS ect. I reckon $10 for this phone is a bargain.

    People might find Tracfone a more attractive offer now that they have these 2 phones.

    • Paul says:

      The higher-end TracFones are actually not bad, and I think they do have a place in a prepaid ecosystem. I’m currently exploring these ideas. The way I have it set up, the main communication and bulk of the interaction is handled by an iPod Touch or iPhone with data only to keep monthly costs to a minimum. With a higher-end TracFone, it might mitigate the need for one of those devices.

      The main reason I selected the iPod Touch and iPhone is due to the cultural popularity and future potential of these devices. Apple will continue to support them into the future and apps are constantly being released, whereas the LG800G isn’t necessarily going to stand the test of time. That being said, I do have to consider all alternatives. Thanks for the feedback!


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