Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hungarian iPhone data cost

It seems the iPhone is finally available in Hungary.

The bad news is that the local T-Mobile goonery thinks it's a good idea to bleed the heavy users for data charges.

This is so short-sighted it's comical: you have the one and only revolutionary convergence device in your stores, and you're trying to make an extra buck (Forint) on any unsuspecting schmuck who uses it as intended.

Being more than fair, let's look at the option with the most data, which will cost you about $90 plus tax, more or less what you would pay in America.

That gives you 4GB "data traffic" included in the price -- so we should probably assume that includes all data, Web and Mail and app and SMS and GPS and whatever else might touch the network, in both directions. Go over that and it's 0.1 HUF per 10 kilobytes.

Honestly, I think I wouldn't hit the 4GB border in a month, and I probably use my iPhone on the 3G or Edge network a bit more than average for a late-30s professional but probably a lot less than a teenager would (WiFi doesn't count towards the limit).

So how much money is that really? Let's assume you use 6GB per month, which would seem to be 50% more than T-Mobile thinks the average user would (giving them the benefit of the doubt here on ethics, even at the risk of credulity).

Let's assume they think a GB is 1000 x 1000 KB, which is incorrect but almost certainly the calculation they'd use. That means your extra 2GB are an extra 4,000MB or an extra 4,000,000 kilobytes which is 400000 10KB chunks at 0.1 HUF per.

OK, now you owe the Germans 40,000 HUF. That's about $200.00 US, a bit more than tripling your bill. For exceeding the limit by half in one month at today's (favorable) dollar rate.

This is exactly what smells bad about the arrangement. T-Mobile says 4GB is fine -- but that burns fast if you're much into YouTube, and if their prices were honest they'd be spotting you the equivalent of $400.

We know that's not the case. We know, in fact, that this is a regressive price structure directly aimed at teenagers whose parents will bail them out the first time, much to T-Mobile's benefit.

Make no mistake: business users like me won't get caught by this ruse. We're unlikely to get close to the limit, we're likely to pay attention to the contract, and we can write it off and correct the course if we go a little bit over. But the kids are not going to be so attentive, and they're also vastly more likely to spend a lot of time on YouTube and other data-intensive applications; and further, they're most likely to opt for the $50/mo plan which only gives them 2GB before the evil kicks in. That means a user in the above scenario could see a $500 monthly bill when they expected to pay $50.

This cost structure is a direct and aggressive attempt to exploit the naive and young among T-Mobile's new customer base. To take advantage of those who want to bring the future into their pockets, and who want to pay T-Mobile a hundred bucks a month for the privelege.

Shame on you, Hamid Akhavan. You had a chance to take the moral high ground, and you're fucking your customers instead. Specifically, you're fucking your customers with families..