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Any device can be a Ting device

I had a revelation last week.

Now, to be fair, my situation is different from most Ting customers (even beyond the fact that I am on the Ting team and would probably give up vital organs to see Ting succeed.) I live in Toronto. I do not use Ting every day. But I am from the US and I spend at least a few days there every month on business or visiting friends and family. So, I carry a Ting phone with me whenever I travel.

This past week I was on vacation in upstate New York (on beautiful Keuka Lake) carrying a Ting LG Optimus S along with my Canada-based Google Nexus. I was curious to see whether an entry level Android phone like that was potentially perfectly adequate for my needs. (This story would be exactly the same if it was the $145 Kyocera Milano we currently have in stock.)

I did not have Wifi available to me.

I pretty quickly admitted to myself that the experience was a huge step down for two reasons. First, the Google Nexus is a much sweeter device. You get what you pay for. Second, I have put a ton of time and effort into the Nexus, assembling all my applications, getting my whole world syncing properly and setting a thousand silly little preferences exactly the way I liked them. (I have to say, truly giving myself up to the world of Google has helped with a lot of this. I can move pretty easily from one device to the next on the most crucial stuff. But, again, there are still so many other choices and settings that make a device mine.)

I had started to invest some time downloading apps and setting preferences on the Optimus. I also spent a bit of time just staring at my Nexus, maybe expecting it to pick up some rogue wave of spectrum from the north.

Then I remembered I could turn my Optimus into a hotspot and tether the Nexus to it. Essentially, any device can be a Ting device. (I did this for the iPad on the drive, but the phone-to-phone thing hadn’t occurred to me.)

For the rest of the week, I kept the Optimus nearby and just used the Nexus exactly the way I always do. I only made and received a few phone calls all week and I used the Optimus for that. I’m traveling to Boston next week for HostingCon and this is exactly what I will do again. I’m not making any effort to configure the Optimus at all to my liking (as I normally would before a trip). It’s simply a data conduit and a feature phone.

By the way, I know that I have not made a profound, new discovery here. Services are built on this concept. Ting customers have talked about it. I guess I even knew it myself. But revelations tend to happen when you experience something for yourself. For me, this approach delivered just the experience I wanted. I got to use Ting service (prices, coverage, support) with my favorite device.

So, I’m thinking about how much we are stressing about our device selection. I’m listening to all our customers and prospects who are (seemingly rightfully) concerned about bringing their existing devices or getting the hot new ones. And I’m wondering if maybe this isn’t such a major problem.

I see a few issues.

    • You are carrying around two devices. Whether I’m toting a laptop or random daddy stuff, I tend to always have a backpack on me. So this isn’t a big issue for me. But I know this will be annoying for a lot of people. Maybe we include a pair of branded cargo pants with every low end Ting smartphone!
    • It will be confusing to go back and forth between a data device and a voice device. I only get the names of my two daughters right about 40% of the time. I’m sure I will mess this up a lot.
    • Occasionally you want a relationship between data and voice, like dialing a number straight from a map.

But these feel completely bearable to me now. I’m thinking $145 for a Kyocera Milano lets you bring any smartphone you want to Ting. Full stop. Am I just drowning in Kool-Aid here? Are there major issues that I’m not thinking about? Is the two device life a bigger burden to others than it is to me?

I would love to hear what people think.

(Note: Please do not interpret this post as an indication that we will not beg, borrow and steal to get every sweet device we possibly can for you. I don’t even tell anybody here when I write these posts. I refer you back to Scott’s post for a more credible and responsible update on our effort to get more Ting devices.)