Wireless in Peril?

17 11 2008

People ask me, semi-regularly, if I’m worried about current economic conditions hurting my paycheck.  Honestly, I’m not too concerned about it.


With cell phones becoming a primary (if not sole) means of communication for so many people I don’t really see sales plummeting.  I would certainly expect to see sales of high-end phones (and their higher-priced data plans) slump a little and would expect to see the same of accessory sales, but I don’t think there will be any sort of cataclysmic shitstorm of store closures and firings/layoffs.


Also, I think that market saturation did the most damage to cell sales.  Since the number of first-time cell owners plummeted about 3-4 years ago so did sales.  Now the big thing is trying to woo people over from their current provider.  The 2 main ways to accomplish this have been a) offering a better deal and b) capitalizing on a bad experience with the previous/current provider.  Either of these situations (especially the former) can generate a sale and woo someone to come over to your side in a down-turned economy.  Granted, on a cosmic scale, someone else lost that revenue so the overall cell market may consider it a wash, but for me it’s a gain.


A decade ago, before mobile phones really became super-mainstream, the economy would scare me.  As it is now, I’m no more concerned about sales and quotas than I was this time 4 years ago.  The only thing that would worry me is a sudden improvement in customer service from the other carriers – I may be shooting myself in the foot here, but the vast majority of my customers who came over from one of the other Big 4 carriers came because they felt like they were being mistreated.


I know it sounds cheesy, but for anyone is wireless, I think the best way to ride out the tough(er) times is to provide superior customer support and to fit plans and features to their needs as opposed to pushing them to get the most expensive ones available.  It’ll mean that whatever business they can send to you, they will.



Q-Chat – The Future of Direct Connect and What Should Come Next

7 07 2008

Sprint finally has some (5) Q-Chat phones available.  3 are rugged, 1 is fairly entry-level and 3 are fairly high-end (the yet-to-be-released Moto model has a 2+ megapixel camera).  Q-Chat was the original name of the all-CDMA push-to-talk (PTT) service that will replace their iDEN Direct Connect.  The new service allows CDMA devices to connect via walkie-talkie to iDEN (Nextel) devices over the Sprint network.  This is super important because the iDEN network is already prettydarned crowded and they’re going to need to vacate a portion of it covering millions of subscribers.  If Sprint would just release a BlackBerry with Q-Chat (which is actually taking over its iDEN predecessor’s Direct Connect moniker) they could finally make an honest push to phase out iDEN and somewhat focus themselves.


The question:  Is it (way) too little (way) too late?