Thursday, June 13, 2013

Vendor Lock In - Part 2

I was at a cafe for lunch today when I found myself wanting to connect to my cellphone (as a hotspot) and use Google Docs. Except... my bonus data has expired.

Every time I top up my pre-paid phone on Vodaphone, I get some bonus data. I'm on prepaid just because I'm a terribly infrequent cellphone user. Sometimes I can go for months on $20. Sometimes $50 will only last me a couple of weeks.

So it seems silly to go on a plan. Only... I've now gotten used to having data. So with $30 on my phone, I'm considering buying another $20 just for the bonus data.

This is a perfect case of vendor lock in. I've been convinced that I should switch over to 2 degrees though whenever I've run out of credit (because this doesn't switch over when you change networks) I've needed the phone desperately in which case I've sucked it up and brought credit.

Of course, one could argue that the added benefit of the data makes Vodaphone much better value for money (given my use case)... So is it really vendor lock in via a switching cost if it's just better value? I think this one goes under the heading of "Pick your battles". If you think of cellular networks as a bunch of cartels.... does it really matter which service you're with?

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