New Data Rates Change the Game for Users, Developers

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-06-07 Print this article Print


5. The future-unaccommodating?

Innovation is a key component in what the future will hold for mobile developers. Prior to the announcement of the new data plans, mobile developers literally had the world at their fingertips. If they could build it, they could bring it to any of the mobile app stores that they chose to support. It didn't matter. A key component in their strategies was video. Consumers are welcoming the ability to access more video on their mobile phones. But video takes up a lot of data. Those who want to try their luck on the future will now need to worry about how video will impact monthly data allotments. Simply put, the future is video. But video cannot be the centerpiece of mobile apps any longer.

6. Currently inefficient apps are available

Apple currently has over 200,000 applications available in its App Store. All of those applications were designed for iPhone owners who had unlimited data available to them. That doesn't necessarily mean that all the applications in the store will need to be revamped, but it's worth nothing that those applications that are data-heavy were not designed with caps in mind. That could come back to hurt those apps' developers. As mentioned, consumers might opt against apps that will run up their data charges. And considering so many apps weren't built with those caps in mind, that could mean fewer sales for some developers.

7. The iPad conundrum

AT&T's decision to cap iPad data is suspect, at best. For developers, it could be a major issue. The vast majority of consumers who have bought the iPad have done so for its usability and entertainment value. They know that whenever they head on the road or simply want to lounge on the couch, they can pick up their iPads and view entertainment content streaming over the Web. The only issue is, that content will now have a direct impact on the amount they pay each month. The more data they consume, the worse off they are. In the meantime, developers need to be concerned, as well. As they create more entertainment-heavy apps, how will consumers respond? It's a real problem.

8. Apple seems on-board

Unfortunately, Apple has said little about AT&T's plans to reduce data availability. Admittedly, there isn't much Apple can say. The hardware company has no control over how AT&T generates revenue, and the carrier's decision was based solely on its desire to improve its business. At the same time, Apple wields unprecedented power in the market. If it could find a way to put pressure on AT&T, it could help mobile developers. But so far, it hasn't. And that only hurts developers all the more.

9. It's not just Apple

It's worth noting that Apple and its developers are not the only stakeholders that are affected by AT&T's move. Since its data plans are networkwide, that means that BlackBerry developers and, soon, Android developers will feel the effects of its changes, as well. So, while Apple's iPhone and iPad get all the attention, AT&T's decision impacts every mobile stakeholder. AT&T has created an even playing field for any platform. Now it's up to developers to decide which programs will do the best job of adapting to the carrier's new demands.

10. They're not going away

Perhaps the worst part about AT&T's data caps is that they won't be going anywhere anytime soon. The company just launched them and believes that it's doing the right thing by offering the new plans. And considering the iPhone, as of this writing, is still only available on AT&T's network, it would seem that the carrier is forcing developers to play by its rules, or else. That's unfortunate. Mobile developers are all about creativity and getting the most out of products. Now that AT&T has capped data, they can't do that.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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