Friday, January 25, 2008

Pocket, CricKet and SureWest, plus MetroPCS for fun

First off, let's talk about family plans. There are a few carriers that have multi-line discounts on their unlimited plans (to the tune of five bucks a month) if they're all on the same bill. But CricKet and Pocket Communications go just a little further: they have explicit family plans. On Pocket, buy the $40 plan (the highest-end one available) and get up to four more "unlimited everything" lines for $30 per month apiece. Nice discount. cricKet's "Family Plan" is just fancy packaging for their $5-per-line multi-line discount. $50 + $30 + $30 minus $5 per extra line equals $100 in the end. Not horrible, but Pocket's discount is much cooler.

Second, Pocket has indeed confirmed that they're coming out with the Motorola Rokr z6m slider phone, for the expected $299, giving them a nice high-end phone model for people to tote around. Meanwhile, CricKet has run out of stock of the old Audiovox 8910 and Motorola v262 phones, as well as both versions of their KRZR (red and black). That leaves the carrier with just ten phone models to pick from at the moment, two of which (the Rokr and the UTStarCom 7026) are out of stock. Not impressed, but at least they have some Samsungs and Motorolas in the mix still, plus the Nokia 6275i for good measure.

MetroPCS, on the other hand, takes the crown for the most phone models at this point, with fifteen phones (fourteen models if you count the red and black Samsung texting phone as one model). This is due to their not dropping any phones from their lineup, but instead (finally) adding the little Huawei m318 flip phone for a mere $99. Nothing at all special about the speakerphone, even. But the user interface, which looks sort of like LG's from a cursory glance, may be just fine, and it's a flip for cheap that doesn't look lousy and old like the year-and-a-half-old-plus UTStarCom 7025. It also looks thinner.

Lastly, Verizon Wireless has bought out the California unlimited carrier SureWest. Look for their unlimited plans to disappear soon :(. But SureWest's non-wireless division wanted out of the biz, and Verizon's $69 million was enough to do so. The purchase was more for infrastructure than for customers, but interestingly enough if you're just looking at customers Verizon paid $1380 each. Assuming the customers had to make a switch to a Verizon plan (which they'd have to do to get a newer phone) averaging $40 a month, Verizon could get that much customer revenue back in three years or so. Just musing though...hopefully SureWest customers will hold onto their sweet unlimited plans and show Verizon just who is who ;)

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