Interesting concept: AT&T planning to allow developers to pay for your data


Tiered data plans and throttles has everyone careful about their data usage. After being used to unlimited data, customers are starting to feel the drawbacks of being limited. Streaming and other data-hungry tasks are starting to become less popular (at least when out of WiFi range), but AT&T is looking to relieve its customers by charging app developers for those GB’s.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Ma Bell is planning a new tactic, in which developers cover the costs of data while using their app. The claim is that this would help developers get much more downloads and usage, as users are starting to avoid such data-hungry apps. Users would be able to use said apps without the data going against their monthly limit.

If a developer offered to take the punch for your data, more users would be willing to download and use their applications. AT&T executive John Donovan compares such service to toll-free 1-800 numbers, in which the company covers the costs of phone conversations.

Of course, those are the positive sides of the story. There is the other side of the spectrum, in which it is believed that developers would be substantially hurt by such practices. Sure, users might be most likely to use their services, but the costs for the developer might become too overbearing; hence, hurting the Android ecosystem. Users who once feared that $10 per GB overage fee would now blow their GB’s away streaming music, videos, etc. Not to mention that the prices for those services would probably rise.

We will have to wait and see how AT&T plays its cards. We would hope that no developer is forced to be part of this, and stays optional. But let us know what you think. Would this be a convenient method? Will it harm developers and consumers, in the long run?

[Source: The Wall Street Journal Via: GigaOM]

Edgar Cervantes

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  1. If it was optional to all devs, I don’t see a problem in it. If it was forced, it’d be terrible. It’d hurt small devs. 

    1. This option would become “forced” because small devs would need to compete with the big devs for similar apps.

      It would hurt not only Android, but iOS and everything that uses data. AT&T is at it again.

      1. yup, this goes against net neutrality. imagine Youtube that pays AT&T.

    2. I don’t see how AT&T could force a dev to do this.

  2. This should be unnecessary. Not only should we still have unlimited data but it should be CHEAPER. 

    The US is behind all other countries (save Canada) in quality of wireless service for the price. I almost wish Cell service would be a public utility not a commodity driven service.

  3. If this happens we can all thank Att for making that 99¢ app inflate to $5 to cover the costs, or even monthly subscriptions for apps.

    1. liked for truth
      free apps such as pandora and slacker wouldn’t be free anymore either in time

    2. I’ve been wondering how much of the 3G data is from apps updating themselves. This is one area where the OS privileging WiFi usage as the time to check for app updates would be a win-win.

  4. jesus. it comes down to this. go on craigslist and fucking buy a grandfathered plans, otherwise, your shit out of luck.

  5. keep your tiered plans for those who want it and bring back unlimited plans
    While were at it, stop throttlin people on unlimited plans at 2 freaking gb when they pay more then those on tiered 2 gb plans while letting other go for 20+ and this is a non issue.

    I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if my cable company which i pay the same amount for my internet thru as I do AT&T i might add began throttling me at 2gb…………

    ‘All hell would break lose…………

    AT&T just thinking of more n more ways to squeeze money out of people, now people who dont have them as their carrier included.

  6. i go an idea! what about just go to an other carrier like sprint, that way you wont have to worry about data usage. 

    1. Like Aslan said, it would make data intensive apps more expensive for everybody, not just Att customers.

      I usually stream on wifi anyway, why should I have to pay more as a Sprint user who is on wifi 90% of the time because Att is trying to gouge the market? Hopefully Google will step in and wont allow AT&t to tamper with the Android market.

      The cheaper market is one of the advantages that Android has over Apple.

    2. Because Sprint 3G is as fast as Tmo’s 2G, which is their data capped speeds.

      And you can only hope you get 4G while you’re outside walking. Inside doesn’t count since you’d probably be lucky enough to get WiFi since youre 4G won’t make it through the building. -_-

      You can probably tell as a previous Tmo customer I’m very disappointed with Sprint.

  7. I agree. It should be optional.

  8. Ha, google with youtube will pay a lot…

    but  seriously – att, wtf? 

  9. Don’t be a fool, this is an end around net neutrality.

  10. Here’s an idea: AT&T, stop being douche bags. Problem solved.

  11. This is old news. I remember hearing about this several years ago… Wait wasn’t that the worst case scenario all the pro net neutrality were harping about? And the detractors claimed it would never happen? Next thing you know cable companies will put up a 5gb tiered plan and offer to let websites pay for customer data. I’m actually disappointed that phandroid hasn’t reported that angle as strongly.

  12. That sounds like a ploy to scam competing content delivery platforms like Hulu and Netflix out of more money for providing their services to end users. Screw AT&T.

  13. There are a few possible niches where it makes sense — e.g. if an app is basically a souped-up advertisement, then the advertiser might be willing pay delivery costs out of the advertising budget.

    But otherwise, developers aren’t going to pay this cost out of pocket — they’ll pass it on to the consumer. So at the end of the day, the consumer pays. In fact, the consumer pays more. Why? Because the developer needs to bill the consumer via, say, Android Market. Google takes a 30% cut — now the consumer is paying data delivery fees plus Google’s cut.

    Don’t get me wrong — the idea has some appeal. “Bandwidth” is fairly abstract, and it’s hard for consumers to understand how an app would impact their AT&T bill. If developers were responsible for passing along costs, then they would be forced to explain the costs in intuitive terms (e.g. “$2 per streamed movie”). But there are better ways to get this benefit (without foisting a complex new billing practice on everyone). For example, app developers could provide a “data-usage profile” — which Android Market would use to advise customers about projected data-usage costs.

  14. One of three things can happen here:

    1.  Developers just stop developing good apps for the platform and they become an ad laden mess.
    2.  Developers restrict the sale of their apps on AT&T
    3.  The cost of apps goes up so high, that it’s not worth buying.*

    *Ever wonder why adding the cost to your monthly phone bill is so damn popular?  Nobody wants to upfront certain costs.  

    Oh, and god help the developers when Amazon offers their apps for free.  Do you really think anyone will buy TuneIn Pro once they make it worth their while to sell it at say $20.00 Check out the math:

    TuneIn Pro is .99 in the Android Market (Same in Amazon)

    It’s has between 100,000 and 500,000 installs lets be conservative and say it is literally in between at 250,000 installs.

    That’s $247,500.  Now, divide that number by the overage amount refunded back to the truck driver, assuming that AT&T looses each case to at least that number

    That’s  So 250,000 people download an app, and 291 can go over in minutes before their price of .99 becomes a loosing investment for the developer.  In order for the developer to insure themselves against loosing more money, the app would have to be priced both exponentially to the number of people purchasing and the number of those exceeding their data allotment.  Which begs the next question, which developer do you go after?  The one that put you over the limit, or the web browser developer, or the ESPN developer, or Shazam?  When does it end?  In the end you’re punishing both the developer that made your phone worth buying, and the consumer that bought it.

    It would be easier for AT&T to just be implicit upfront and simply say, you can use as much data as you want, however, while your usage is unlimited, your speed will not, and will be charged accordingly.  Then you’ve given the choice to the developer to develop for your company, and your consumer to shop the better rate.  Hey, it’s the big companies that wanted the free market, now they should lay in the bed they made.

    EDIT: Oh, and the horse’s name is Friday.

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