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T-Mobile’s new offering for micro businesses and sole traders

Now then, I’m going to withhold my usual barrage of criticism for this country’s mobile operators to bring you news from T-Mobile UK. They’re getting somewhere.

Having completed research that shows that many sole traders and micro businesses reckon the next year will be tough (70% anticipate revenue staying the same or decreasing next year), T-Mobile to introduce a price plan package just for them.

Here’s the issue: Micro businesses and sole traders now rely heavily on their mobile phones. I do mean heavily. For many, it’s the primary business tool. Getting a decent handset can really boost productivity. For example, the messaging functionality on a BlackBerry can be rather useful if you’re out-and-about a lot. But, in today’s business environment, I reckon T-Mobile’s research might be right: How many micro business folk will be committing to 24-month contracts just to get the new phone?

T-Mobile have done something about this. They’ve introduced 12-month contracts (hello old familiar!) with a clear price structure along with some decent handsets.

The handsets in question? HTC Desire S, HTC Wildfire S, BlackBerry 9300 and BlackBerry 9780. These aren’t the bleeding edge (e.g. the BlackBerry 9900 replaced the 9780 just a few weeks ago), however they are most definitely good enough. Let’s be clear on value too — The Bold 9780 is currently £329 on Expansys.

And with just 12-months worth of commitment, that’s a pretty good deal.

Now then, the price plans are good.

£25 a month gets you 750 minutes, 250 texts and 100mb of data. I am severely unimpressed at that amount of data — but then again, I went through 1.67gb yesterday on my 3UK MiFi, so I’m not quite the target market for these price plans. However, there’s a good get-out-of-jail-card here: If you use more than your allowance, you’ll be billed 50p per meg, but subject to a daily cap of £1. So if you’ve got a busy 3-days of data use one month, you’ll only pay an extra, say, £3. Doable.

At the other end of the scale, £45 a month gets you 2,000 minutes, 500 texts and a gig of data.

I actually think this is quite a good deal.

I like the way they’re looking after a particular market segment. I like the clear pricing. I like how they’ve included the likes of the BlackBerry Bold.

I’d like to see a lot more though. Right now, the company’s only tools for innovation appear to be price and mobile device hardware.

For instance, every single micro business or sole trader will have a PC or Mac. Guaranteed. They need to produce invoices, for a start. So, you’re supplying and assuring their mobile device, but what about their desktop or laptop? What about airline lounge access included with your subscription? 😉

Anyway, it’s good to see a bit of movement from the UK operators. Nice one T-Mobile!

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If you’d like to read more about my viewpoints on Operator Innovation, you can find those posts here.

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