That was arguably the case this week when US telecom behemoth AT&T unveiled new pricing arrangements at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which could transform the economics of the entire smartphone ecosystem.
Under these so-called sponsored data plans, companies that provide apps to their customers will pay for the bandwidth used to consume their apps on smartphones, rather than data consumers paying for the bandwidth themselves. Already, three companies have signed up to do so: health insurer United Health, advertising company Aquto and software developer Kony Solutions, Reuters reports. For willing companies, the arrangement is a way to win the loyalty of its customers away from competitors; when an AT&T customer uses these companies’ apps on a wireless network, it doesn’t eat into their data allowance.
For years, telecom operators in the US and abroad have been trying to figure out how to charge app developers, who they claim have captured much of the value in the smartphone ecosystem by drawing hefty userbases, without being lumbered with the associated costs.