Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Revenue Impact of Multi-Device Data Plans is Not Yet Clear

“Multi-device” or family data plans, which allow numerous devices to share a single bucket of broadband access, are coming to the U.S. market. Precisely how consumers will react is not yet clear.

In the case of family voice plans, there was a net increase in users per account, so even if average revenue per user declined for the additional lines, service providers earned more revenue overall.

What will happen in the case of multi-phone households is not so clear, since there is a strong likelihood users will sign up for plans to support their tablets, especially single-user accounts.

What might happen in existing multi-device accounts is not so clear. Depending on how the plans are constructed, there could be some revenue losses if the subsidiary devices on an account were moved to a family data plan, instead of separate data plans for each device.

The big trade-offs will likely come in the multi-device family accounts, where the upside will come from additional new devices, especially tablets, being added to plans, with the risk of some diluted revenue from the older smart phone mobile data plans attached to each discrete phone.

The big upside is smart phone adoption. Though about half of U.S. mobile users already have smart phones, nearly half do not. Family data plans could convince more of those non-adopters to upgrade to smart phone service, meaning they also would likely want data access. The effective lower prices for new users could provide new incentive to upgrade sooner rather than later.

KPCB Internet Trends - 2012

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