Yesterday there was a post on TechCrunch discussing the Wall Street Journal story about content owners subsidizing mobile customers’ AT&T data charges. In case you missed it, AT&T is proposing to let app makers or content owners pay for the data overage costs that customers incur with data-intensive app usage. This provoked sharp criticism from the crowd at TechCrunch, but I think there is a different part of this story that isn’t being told here. It might actually be a good thing for developers.
Obviously the devil is in the details, but, I’m not quite seeing the outrage on this one. So long as carriers keep it voluntary, it might actually be something valuable for video-heavy apps. I think there are a ton of important questions to be asked before any developer would sign onto the deal, but if you have an app that is all about HD quality video, and your target demo is top data users, then saying “use our streaming service without paying a dime extra!” becomes a nice marketing hook.
Data caps aren’t going away, so if your main clientele is people who end up on the edge of their limit, then why not give me the developer a way to provide a relatively pain free way to use my app?
Now what I’d REALLY like is if the U.S. carriers would give us a way around the 20 meg cap on install size. Having an app that installs over 3g/4g vs. Wi-Fi can represent a 40% increase in sales. Adding retina display capabilities for the iPhone really pushed developers to the limit when it came to squeezing under that 20 meg cap. The new iPad display will probably bring a whole new level of pain when it comes to getting an app down to size. I think a fair number of devs would pay to not have to worry about it.