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A Ting Device Update

As promised from some threads in our customer forums, here is an update on the device landscape. Up to now, we have not shared a lot of information about our device roadmap, which upon reflection seemed very “un-Ting-like”. We want to change that going forward.

We have learned a lot about the device supply chain and marketplace since launching Ting six months ago. There are lots of moving pieces and factors to keep track of, and we have made some good progress in refining our approach and learning from our experiences. We have intentionally not said a lot about future devices as we want to be sure what we tell you is reliable (we hate vapor-ware), and we have been figuring out the challenges relating to managing a lot of physical inventory and an ever changing device landscape.

One of the big factors stressing the supply chain currently is the launch of LTE services and devices. In fact, this quarter is probably one of the more stressful periods in terms of device information / availability. Since LTE is a new protocol, there are lots of additional steps that are required in order to launch and deploy it. As a result of this overhead, the entire device ecosystem has been under extra pressure. The good news is that this will not happen again soon, and it looks like the majority of the work has been done, so we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Ting wireless network services are provided on the Nationwide Sprint Network* and we have some restrictions on which devices we can make available to our customers as they must be approved for use on that network. There can be small delays for new devices becoming available to us as a result of either inventory constraints, or MVNO specific testing that must be completed.

We want to bring you the best devices as soon as possible, and we are working closely with our partners to continually improve our ability to do so. We are pretty happy with what we have been able to offer to date, and are quite optimistic things are only going to get better.

Some of the devices we expect to be able to offer to Ting subscribers sooner than later include the LG Viper 4G /LTE, the LG Optimus Elite, and HTC EVO 4G LTE. I can not say when we will get any of these devices as there are some elements that are still outside our control, but we will take pre-orders for these devices when we have more certainty around delivery dates.

If we look a bit further out, I expect to be able to offer the Samsung Galaxy S3 as well.

We have had some demand for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and we are working on it. If we can resolve the logistical issues in the near term, we will be glad to offer you this device.

In the feature phone segment, there have been some significant supply issues outside our control that have delayed our launch of the Samsung M370. We still expect to offer this device, but it could be 8-10 weeks before we can do so. We recently added the Kyocera Brio (after getting lots of requests from customers) which has been selling quite well and getting excellent reviews.

We have no plan to offer RIM devices at this time. We are open to the Windows Phone, but do not have anything firm to tell you at the moment.

That is what I can share with you today.

There are a couple of initiatives we are working on that I can not talk about at the moment, and to be honest they could take a very long time to bear fruit (cough), but rest assured that we are working very hard on a couple of exciting things.

Please feel free to join the conversations in our forums and ask specific questions there. There are some interesting threads on devices. If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you will be notified about new devices as we make them available.

* Although Sprint provides Ting subscribers access to
its wireless network and to its wireless services, Ting is responsible to the Ting subscribers for the service. Please call Ting with any questions or comments about services.
* Sprint is a trademark of Sprint Nextel.

Ting To Launch Shared Data Plan Four Months Ago

Tucows Inc. (NYSE AMEX:TCX, TSX:TC), a global provider of domain names and other Internet services, today announced that its mobile phone service Ting would unveil a shared data plan on February 2, 2012, four months prior to this announcement.

“Putting multiple devices on one plan was pretty straightforward,” explained Ken Schafer, EVP Products, “the main challenge was figuring out the time travel part.”

Schafer elaborated…

Elliot pulled a bunch of us into the board room. He had that look on his face. ‘”McAdam and Stephenson are running around hinting at shared data plans. What the hell do I have to talk about?! Cute little line drawings?.” He glared at Michael Goldstein, VP Marketing. Goldstein didn’t say anything. But he was wearing one of those skinny new shirts that his sister got him for his birthday. He looked great.”

“How long would it take us to launch a shared data plan?,” Elliot bellowed.

“Maybe three sprints,” suggested Scott Allan, Director Ting, barely above a whiny little whisper.

“If we abandon Ben Lucier’s stupid ‘hug every customer’ initiative, we could probably get it done in one,” sneered Evgueni Pirogov, Director, Mobile Engineering.

“A full sprint?! Two weeks?! Ross and I once launched a domain name registry in two weeks!”

“.moo. Lots of fun. I was sitting over there at the time,” added Ross Rader, VP Retail/Customer Experience.

A quiet voice came from the far side of the room. “How about four months ago?”

Everybody looked over at Paul Tichonczuk, Senior Web Application Developer. He was scribbling something on a napkin and wearing a large hat he had fashioned out of aluminum foil.

Lillian Angel, Software Developer, leaned over his shoulder to get a better look while chewing noisily on a granny smith apple.

He handed me the napkin.

“It could work.” I said. “Somebody run to the dollar store and get us more aluminum foil!”

Starting February 2, 2012, Ting customers will be able to share data, as well as voice and texts, across unlimited devices on one account. Each active device will cost just $6 a month. The value gets better as the total usage increases, amounting to huge potential savings for businesses and families. There are never any overage penalties or premiums and there are no limits or fees on features like tethering.

“Again, we think this just makes sense for mobile phone users,” explained Tucows CEO Elliot Noss. “People are wasting a ton of time and money on multiple accounts.”

“I think we showed tremendous initiative and hustle by launching this in the past. It appears our competitors will be following suit in the near future.”

While the Ting announcement actually comes a day after the big shared data plan announcement from Verizon (NYSE:VZ), the Ting plan itself will precede Verizon’s June 28 launch by nearly five months. Check out the Ting plans at ting.com/plans for more details on rates and features and the Ting savings calculator ting.com/calculator to see how much money you could be saving.

Noss also hinted at plans to launch a shareware site.

How to save money on mobile service

How to save money on mobile serviceLast week, we posted a poll on the Ting Facebook page asking Ting switchers how much they’re saving on mobile service since switching to Ting. Savings are relative to respondents’ previous mobile carrier bills.

While we’re not going to claim this poll as scientific (accurate to +/- 5%, 19 times out of 20) the results were nonetheless illuminating.

The poll was broken down into eight options:

  • $0 or less than $0
  • $0 – $10
  • $10 – $20
  • $20 – $30
  • $30 – $40
  • $40 – $50
  • $50+
  • Keep your nose out of my personal affairs!

We’re aware of the fact that “mobile that makes sense” means big savings as people start paying for what they use without buying in to unlimited or worrying about overage penalties. After all, it’s not just a pithy slogan. That said, the results of this poll surprised even us a bit with the vast majority, 20 of the 35 respondents, saying they’re saving more than $50 each month with Ting vs their previous mobile carrier.

The results of the Facebook poll:

  • $0 or less than $0: 0
  • $0 – $10: 2
  • $10 – $20: 1
  • $20 – $30: 2
  • $30 – $40: 5
  • $40 – $50: 5
  • $50+: 20
  • Keep your nose out of my personal affairs!: 0

So, in answer to the headline promise: How to save money on mobile service? The answer: for most of us, it’s as simple as paying for what we use.

Grab a couple of recent mobile bills and try our Ting Calculator to find out if Ting can save you money on your mobile service.

SPOILER ALERT: Probably.

Seven Must-Have Apps for Android Users

Many of us here at Ting HQ are Android devotees and more are switching all the time. One recent switcher took to Yammer to ask for some internal app recommendations. After spending 10 minutes pulling together my list of a few favorites, I realized I’d be remiss to not share them here too. So, here it is. My top seven favorite Android apps that, in my humble opinion, are true must-haves for Android users new and old.

Any.DO

You HAVE to get Any.DO. It’s a great to-do manager but the missed call notifications are the real seller. My favorite feature of this app (aside from the aforementioned missed call notifications) is the way it integrates your contacts list. You can add a note to “Call Andrew Moore-Crispin” and if I’m in your address book, Any.DO will add a little call icon that you can tap to make the call.

Business Calendar

Business Calendar beats the stock calendar by a wide margin. It’s free but once you’re hooked, it’s $5 for the full version. It seamlessly pulls in your Google Calendar, including any categories and synced calendars you have set up.

Shush!

Shush! is a great utility; it lets you silence your ringer for a period of time from 15 minutes to 12 hours. No need to open the app, just silence as you normally would and Shush! pops up. You can set the volume your ringer will restore to as well. It’s simple, it does one thing and it does it very well.

Alarm Clock Plus

Alarm Clock Plus is awesome if, like me, you have trouble hauling yourself out of bed in the morning. You can set it to ask you arithmetic questions to force you out. It’s much more customizable than the stock Clock app and the alarm option included there.

Onavo Count

Onavo Count is great if you’re looking to monitor, understand and possibly curtail your mobile data use. It keeps a running tally of your overall data use. You can set a monthly limit and receive alerts when you’re getting close or even shut off the mobile data connection when you hit your limit. The included Widget options are great and notifications alert you to “data hog” apps so you can cut them off at the pass.

OurGroceries

OurGroceries is the best grocery list manager I’ve used. If you need to keep grocery lists (or really, any lists) organized and updated between devices, this is must-have. My fiancee and I use this app to plan a two-pronged grocery store attack. We each take a flank then meet somewhere in the middle to consolidate our haul and head to the checkout. This makes for fewer arguments and a time savings of half.

Zedge

Zedge is great if you want a bunch of custom ringtones and notifications. Special mention to the Loud Alarm and Train Alarm that, in conjunction with Alarm Clock Plus, ensure I get out of bed in the morning… despite my body decrying that sleeping until noon is actually the way it should be.

Do you have any must-have Android apps? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Ting on Republic Wireless

About 99.5% of the US population has still never heard of Ting or Republic Wireless. The other .5% seem to be talking about both of us. I like the conversation a lot and thought I should offer my own thoughts.

I think what Republic Wireless is doing is really smart. We talk a lot with our users about techiques (alerts, features, apps) to lower their monthly bills. One of the best ways is using WiFi (for both Internet use and phone calls) as much as possible whenever it is available. To take such a strong position on that and to build it so completely into the function of the device is really cool. To be able to shout “unlimited everything for $19/month” is absolutely enviable. (I am a marketing guy. I hate it when someone’s tagline is punchier than mine is.)

The way I see it, the choice between Ting and Republic Wireless is really about freedom and accountability (us) versus simplicity and standardization (them). (They talk a lot about freedom. I don’t think they are getting their own benefits quite right. Although, to be fair, it’s quite different if the reference is Verizon and not Ting.)

It might also come down to how stripped down you are willing to take your service.

Ting gives you clarity and control. We treat mobile services (minutes, text messages, megabytes) like the utilities that they are. We want you to use them however and wherever you like. We want to offer you a choice among as many devices as possible to access them. We include rich features and service around them, from tethering and call forwarding to no hold customer support. We give you razor-sharp visibility into your usage throughout the month. We offer advice and ideas on how you can use your mobile services as little and well as possible. But ultimately, we charge you based on what you use, so you are responsible for what you pay.

Republic Wireless takes a more prescriptive approach and offers even greater certainty when it comes to your bill. There is one device. You must have WiFi in your home. When Wifi is available, that will be the only way to make a phone call. But your bill will always be $19/month plus taxes (a fantastic price).

I think this approach creates some significant risks for them and some concerns for their users:

  • They guarantee the rate no matter what blend of activity they see between WiFi and network usage. They might keep costs low enough to profit there. Or they might find themselves with a difficult choice – operate at a loss hoping to find alternative revenue streams or an acquirer or (as we have seen with unlimited data plans) start to impose limits and penalties on people that don’t use the service the way they hoped.

  • Calls on WiFi can still be a bit spotty. When you browse the web, there’s an expectation pages might freeze or load slowly. A phone call is different. Small gaps are unacceptable. They might have reason to believe that technology is there today. We tend to think it isn’t good enough just yet to rely on exclusively.

Again, I admire the leap Republic Wireless is taking. I think they will introduce and inspire some great innovations around ubiquitous WiFi. I am also excited to hear more voices decrying contracts, overages and other nonsense.

We are just taking a different path to get to a similar place (huge savings versus Verizon and AT&T, greater respect for customers). So far, our customers have proven quite capable of keeping their own bills down. Meanwhile, we clear enough with each bill to make significant, on-going investments in our service and our team.

May we and our customers all feast at the table of plenty. I apprehensively await your comments!

A Few Mobile Contract Horror Stories
from Dump Your Contract Month

Over the course of the Ting Dump Your Contract Month sweepstakes, we collected entries and invited the mobile contract-afflicted to share the sweeps with their friends. Despite the fact that doing so would edge the odds ever so slightly further out of their favor, people obliged.

After people entered the sweeps, we offered a text box where they could share their mobile contract horror stories. And there were some pretty horrific stories. Many of the stories that we received were a little too uh… vitriolic to share. We did promise catharsis in the text box beckoning mobile contract horror stories, so I guess people just let loose. We were surprised by the sheer length of some of the stories too. Seems the mobile contract-afflicted have a lot to get of their collective chest.

If you submitted your mobile contract horror story, know that it was read, appreciated and taken to heart. Thanks so much for taking the time. Except that one in all CAPS. What’s up with that?

We’re not going to post the ones that call other mobile service providers out by name. That wouldn’t be very Ting of us. It does narrow the field somewhat though…

Following are a literal few of our favorite horror stories. Thanks again for taking the time to share.

Anonymous
It’s been a long time coming that someone recognized that the carrier should be billing for data and bits plus whatever costs they pay for a phone number at their target margins, not some hodgepodge of costs that have no connection to a user’s real impact on the network! Looking forward to Ting’s success!

Jasen B.
I am currently in a contract with 2 feature phones. I have 1400 minutes and Unlimited text with NO DATA plan. My bill is $136 per month. I keep looking at Ting.com and seeing that I could have phone, text AND data for less than half of what I’m paying now. HELP ME!!!

Nathan J.
I absolutely cannot handle that stuck feeling anymore. I need to feel free again. I also need to stop paying $118 a month just to have a smart phone.

Fun facts from the mobile contract horror stories:

Total word count of all stories submitted: 1,323

Word and punctuation occurrences across all stories:

  • “Contract”: 11
  • Dollar sign ($): 12
  • Exclamation points (!): 32
  • “Help”: Three
  • “bend over”: Just one… but it was a very colorful one.

The Ting Dump Your Contract sweeps ended at 8:59 this morning and we’re no longer paying out early termination fees (ETF). Even factoring in ETFs though, you’ll probably still come out on top with Ting. You can see ETFs by carrier here then grab a couple of your wireless bills and try the Ting Calculator to see how we stack up.