The introduction of 3G mobile technology a few years ago was accompanied by a fanfare of downloadable content, in addition to the benefit of increased network speeds and capacities.
Who remembers the launch of 3 Mobile in Australia? Their big innovation and appeal was video calling over the 3G network. As well as being expensive at the time, the quality was…well…pretty crap. Hey, I’m being kind.
Years down the track, video calling is still available, albeit with less marketing and hype about it. It’s also still pretty expensive and the quality hasn’t improved all too much (apart from the hardware advancements with bigger and better displays).
But apart from the occasional business user, or the odd occasion where a day may want to make a quick video call to the wife and kids, how often do people use video calling?
The same applies to the rest of 3G exclusive content, offered on the various Australian mobile networks. From music videos, news stories, wallpapers and games, each carrier tries to outdo the other — wooing consumers by offering a wide range of downloadable 3G content.
For me, 3G is an awfully expensive way to watch crap video and download a Britney Spears wallpaper. So what does everyone do with their phones in this regard? I do use Gmail, and occasionally check the news/sports sites, I’ll admit.
But I've previously had 3G phones with video access and have never even thought about watching a highlight clip of a football match on my mobile. Which makes me think: if I'm a relatively big football fan, and I don't pay for the data, and I still can't be arsed doing it, just who the hell can?
Sure, perhaps the fact that the hardware is not completely up to scratch (though the launch of the iPhone and the subsequent push for large screen mobiles is closing the gap) does contribute. And yes, the networks are still slow, despite the constant promises of faster speeds and future upgrades.
Despite my criticisms, I really like Next G and think the technology has a lot of potential. I don’t like their prices though, nor does anyone else — a quick glance of the cost for downloads of mobile clips on all of the networks tells you they aren’t pretty.
But whichever way I look at it, I get the feeling the consumer (at this stage) is being taken for a ride. The abiding impression is that these services are used by operators as some kind of hype to get people on the service, then later the customer realises the clips are useless and not what they really wanted anyway.
Or maybe like most other bloggers on the interwebz, I’m just here for a whinge session and should promptly STFU.