Mostly Everything

SMART Postpaid Freedom Plan: Who is it for, really?

The blogs have been abuzz with the new Freedom Plan from SMART Communications. For those unfamiliar, this plan is essentially (1) a postpaid line that (2) does not require you to present a lot of documentation for approval. All you need is a valid ID. There is no need for an employer’s certificate or proof of income which can be a hassle to acquire especially if you’re a freelancer or a consultant. The plan also (3) does not have a fixed monthly fee to pay. If you don’t use it, you don’t pay anything. If you only spend PHP 1.00 to send a text, that’s all you’re billed for. The plan also has (4) an automatic 600 peso credit limit. The third feature is what confuses most people — if it’s a postpaid line, why is there a credit limit? Actually, all postpaid lines have credit limits which you can assign to your account. This is obviously there to prevent you from getting overcharged. The limit is usually twice the amount of your monthly bill but this can easily be changed from your MySmart online site (I’ve kept mine at PHP 6,000.00 for the past 7 or so years).

So who is this plan for? Why not just apply for a “regular” line or simply buy a prepaid line?

1. Full time freelancers. I have many friends who are full time bloggers but have problems when it comes to getting a postpaid line with a telco. That’s because the prerequisites are rather tough — proof of employment and statement of monthly income are the two documents that are not readily available to freelance folks. The thing is, they can readily afford to pay for the monthly bills (as some may make more money than those in a regular job) but just can’t show for it.

2. People who leave the country a lot. Because you don’t have to pay anything if you don’t use it, you can keep the line without having to worry if the SIM card / number will expire because of non-use. If a friend or relative comes home once a year for a few weeks, this is the perfect plan to give him or her. You don’t have to keep on re-sending a new number to friends to call or text because the line will always stay active.

3. For people who need an emergency second line. A secondary line will always come in handy (you can keep it in your bag or leave it at home — it doesn’t matter. Since you don’t need to top it up with credits, you’re guaranteed PHP 600.00 worth of calls and text in cases of emergency.

4. For people who need to monitor bill usage. Since you don’t really get a statement of account for prepaid lines, the Freedom Plan is an easy way to deploy hundreds of new numbers across the workforce. You will be able to monitor consumption and usage because it is attached to a monthly billing system which you can see.

N.B. If you’re curious to how the PHP 600.00 credit limit thing works, say you want to avail of the PHP 1,000.00 unlisurf package for your plan. Since you start out with a PHP 600.00 credit limit you’ll need to pre-pay at least PHP 400.00 to make the balance so you don’t end up hitting your credit limit. As you stay longer with your plan, the credit limit can be increased.

Mostly Everything

BlackBerry 10 and what RIM should be doing instead

Oh wow, look it’s the new iPhone! Wait, it’s Blackberry 10 pala!

It’s no secret that the once darling smartphone manufacturer Research in Motion has been losing ground to more elegant operating systems Android, iOS and yes even Windows Phone. It doesn’t seem apparent if you live in the Philippines, but globally RIM is skidding into a downward slope, with tipping points including the huge service outage of their BBM service in the USA last October 2011. Because 3rd party developers and iOS have created their own platform-specific BBM-like services, RIM is slowly losing its edge in technology.

RIM lost significant market share worldwide to Apple’s iPhone and to smartphones running Google’s Android operating system, which caused a decline in profit and share value. On December 16, 2011 RIM shares fell to their lowest price since January 2004 and the stock dropped 77 percent in 2011 alone. By March 2012 shares were worth less than $14, from a height of over $140 in 2008. The BlackBerry PlayBook, launched in 2011 as a business-oriented alternative to the Apple iPad, was a critical and commercial failure. Meanwhile, chief executive Thorsten Heins reaffirmed RIM’s business focus, explaining that consumer-friendly features like entertainment applications are not important to the company’s core customers. [source]

One thing RIM still does have is their amazing push email service which has been unmatched in compressing data through the airwaves. In simpler terms, if I were BlackBerry, instead of trying to develop a new mobile OS and licensing it to other manufacturers (which is a dumb strategy), I would focus my efforts on licensing their push email server to all other platforms.

The new Blackberry 10 look great but we’re done with the era of features because these come a dime a dozen. We’re in the era of ecosystems and right now, RIM is trailing behind three other application marketplaces. Will the newly redesigned OS hamper conversions of legacy Blackberry applications as well?


Hands on with Locate for Android

Been using an app called Locate these past few days. Simply put, it’s a localized search service that runs on any Android device. The app is developed by Smart Communications but as it is in the Android Marketplace, you don’t need to be a SMART subscriber to use it. As long as you’re on Android v1.5 and up (which is 99% most likely the case) you can use it.