Smartphones are turning the telecom industry upside down. Industry giants might as well follow suit.
On Tuesday, Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) finally realized that its customers care more about high-speed data plans than they do about SMS texting or voice minutes. Starting June 28, new Verizon customers must choose among the all-new "Share Everything" plans. As the name implies, these options can share a set amount of mobile data access among up to 10 smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets. They all come with unlimited voice minutes and text messaging.
"Share Everything Plans represent a tremendous shift in how customers think about wireless service," says Tami Erwin, Verizon's chief marketing officer. Or rather, it represents a shift in how much Verizon listens to its customers -- voice calls and text messages are easily replaced by smartphone apps like Skype or iMessage these days, and traditional phone services don't even have an answer for the video calls we do on FaceTime or, again, Skype.
So minutes and texts have changed from revenue-driving items of value to freebie giveaways. Verizon may be first out of the gate, but AT&T (NYSE: T ) and Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S ) can't be far behind. In particular, Sprint has long championed unlimited calling and texting; adding shared data plans would simply be the next logical step for the third-largest network.
Not that Verizon is sacrificing sales or anything. The cheapest possible smartphone plan jumps up from $70 a month to $90, though you'd also gain unlimited talk time in that shift. Data plans already represent the bulk of Verizon's mobile growth, and now Big Red is going whole hog on that big-margin strategy. In the timeless words of Metallica: "Nothing else matters."
It's a brave new world of mobile computing, and hardly worth breaking out those pesky voice plans anymore. Read all about this exploding trillion-dollar market and the surprising stock that's your best bet on the smartphone revolution today. But grab your copy of that special report right now because it won't be free forever.