I just canceled my iPad order

| June 2, 2010

Back on May 22nd, I ordered an Apple iPad (3GS, 64GB) in the full expectation of being able to use AT&T $30/month unlimited data access plan. It was scheduled to ship on June 9th and arrive here in Colorado around the 15th.

However, today AT&T announced that this plan would go away on June 7th, a little over two months after the iPad started shipping. That changeover would happen before my iPad arrived; therefore, I would never have a chance to sign up for that unlimited plan. As I stated elsewhere, I can’t believe that Apple didn’t know about this either as a possibility or a certainty. It is, perhaps, the most profoundly stupid and self-defeating business move I have seen in years.

On the other hand, if AT&T really did blindside Apple with this, Apple will likely use it to break exclusivity agreements with AT&T and open up both the iPhone and the iPad to other telecom provides. If I were at Sprint or Verizon, I’d be on a plane to Cupertino this morning with an unlimited data plan proposal in hand.

In any case, I went online to Apple today and canceled my iPad order. When I did so, I was given a drop-down list to state the reason for the change. My answer: “I made a mistake.”  ..bruce w..

[Note for nit-pickers: yes, I placed the order on May 22nd and have the e-mail from Apple to prove it. However, they didn’t process the order until May 25th, hence the date above.]

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Category: Apple, Information Technology, Main

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

Comments (3)

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  1. brucehoult says:

    For what it’s worth, I think unlimited data plans are a really really bad idea.

    Unlimited or all-you-can-eat is never a sign of a high quality service. Invariably it means poor quality product, bad service, and slobs doing their very best to gorge themselves.

    It’s not a very attractive thing even in the case of food, where everyone eats basically the same amount within a factor of two or maybe five. It’s just plain stupidity for internet data where two people both using it in a perfectly reasonable and justifiable way can easily have usage differing by four orders of magnitude, if not more.

    Even just using myself as an example, a typical[1] month can see 20 MB used on my iPhone (using it away from the house/office WIFI at some point on pretty much every day) and 200 GB on my cable modem. That’s a factor of 10,000. I pay for every byte downloaded, btw, currently at NZ$100/GB on the phone and NZ$1.50/GB on the cable modem. (that’s about US$70 and US$1 respectively).

    With this kind of — perfectly reasonable — difference in usage, how can you charge one fair price to everyone? If you price to withstand the guy downloading video continuously (whether pirated or paid for) then the grandmother who only wants to check for email once a day is paying far too much. On the other hand, if you price for the grandmother, then the video guy is getting a free ride and is going to be labelled as an “abuser” or the like when in fact they should be regarded as your best customer!

    Bandwidth does cost money. Sure, the pipes are paid for and ISPs pay a fixed amount per month for a given bandwidth, but when customers fill the current size pipe then the ISP has to pay good money to increase the size of the pipe. Where is their incentive to do so if customers won’t be paying more as a result? There is none. The result is rationing by scarcity and frustration instead of rationing by the market.

    I frankly don’t see why people in the USA (especially) are so insistent that they want or need unlimited deals. Can you say why you think you do?

    Last year I checked the iPhones belonging to a bunch of Mozilla and Google employees in Mountain View and not one of them had averaged more than about 80 MB/month over the time they’d owned them (most didn’t know how to check it so I had to guide them). Most were down in the 20 – 50 MB/month range, just like me. But they all insisted that they needed unlimited data and that they couldn’t possibly stand to have a mere 250 MB/month like plans in other countries.

    It’s a real puzzle to me.

    [1] those are extremes, but do happen. 30-50 MB on the phone and 100 GB on the cable modem are more typical, and the cable modem is used by several people.

  2. bfwebster says:

    I have an Acer netbook with an unlimited AT&T data plan. I’ve used it for a year; I don’t know what my data loads are, but I haven’t cared.

    A few months ago, because of my travel, I bought a Sprint 3G/4G ‘net dongle for my HP laptop. I assumed (yeah, yeah, I know) that it was likewise unlimited, which made the $300+ (instead of $59) monthly bill a real surprise. It has a 5GB limit; I’ve worked really hard to stay within that, but am likely to fail, since I regularly get document attachments from lawyers, have to download software, etc.

    I don’t really care about unlimited plans for my phone, but I’m not talking about a phone. I’m talking about an iPad, a device that I could actually use to download and read said attachments, stream videos, etc. ..bruce..

  3. brucehoult says:

    The iPad is not a phone but it’s still on the same phone network with both radio spectrum and cell sites as a very finite resource. The same goes for tethering your phone to your laptop. Both of those going to put a lot more load on to an already overloaded system. It’s only fair that you pay for the privilege [1] if you can’t leave the big downloads until you’re on WIFI somewhere.

    [1] but I can’t understand the logic in AT&T charging $20 a month just to enable tethering, when it’s just another way to use the data you already paid for. Here in NZ we’ve hat iPhone tethering for a year now and it’s just data use the same as any other.