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A few months back, we were approached by a recent but eager convert to the Ting “mobile that makes sense” mantra. She reached out asking if we’d be interested in taking a road trip. Well, not so much us, as in the people behind Ting (though we might well have been down, if such an offer was floated) but rather, to come along for the ride with Ting riding shotgun. Naturally, we’d be chipping in for some gas and covering all data charges along the way.
From this simple email outreach, the Ting Road Warriors were born: Heidi, her hubby, their three boys and the latest addition to the family, a little girl just begging to be decked out in a Ting onesie. Funny story: Promotional onesies are surprisingly hard to come by. I guess there are too few companies looking to capture the 0 – 12 mo. demographic to make the promotional clothing industry pay much attention.
The Ting Road Warriors are setting out today and will touch Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois over the course of their eight-day journey. If you’re nearby, keep your eyes peeled for them. They shouldn’t be hard to spot: Just look for the happy family in a van with Ting magnets adorning the sides. They’ll all be wearing Ting t-shirts. Except the youngest member of the crew. She’s in the aforementioned Ting onesie.
In our previous device update, we mentioned that it’s always darkest before the dawn; getting the latest and greatest devices and keeping the tried and true handsets in stock has proven to be our biggest challenge to date. With that in mind…
Let there be light!
We’re super excited about the Ting device roadmap looks for the next few months and beyond. We’re focussing this device update on a few phones that are either coming soon or back in stock. Let’s get started with the news we’re perhaps the most eager to talk about, the first LTE device available on Ting…
It’s coming! On our recent trip to Sprint HQ, we got a lot accomplished. A lot of back-end stuff we’ll be sharing in the coming months. Most notable, at least in the near-term, is the Samsung Galaxy SIII.
The SIII hits as we flip the switch to begin offering LTE wherever Sprint’s LTE network reaches. It’s now available for pre-order and will ship in three to six weeks. We recently had a chance to test-drive LTE. It’s difficult to describe how fast without dipping into our pool of expletives and superlatives. Suffice it to say though, “speeds that rival your home wired Internet connection” are not just hyperbole. LTE is insanely fast and coming soon for Ting customers.
We realize this is a pretty wide window and harkens back to the halcyon days of comic book ads when you’d have to check the mailbox every day to see if your Sea Monkeys had arrived yet. We’re sorry we can’t be more specific; chalk it up to moving parts and not wanting to make promises we can’t keep. Three weeks is the best case, six is the worst and somewhere in between is most likely. We’ll communicate throughout the process so you’re always in the loop.
Ting will offer four different versions of the Samsung Galaxy SIII. “Pebble Blue” and “Marble White” with a 16GB and 32GB version of each color. The 16GB in either color goes for $539. The 32GB versions are $579.
Better yet: we’re giving away two free SIIIs. For pre-orders of any one of the Samsung Galaxy SIII color and capacity variations, we’ll refund the full device sticker price to two of the first 200 pre-orders, upon activation. If you’re one of the fortunate two, you’ll only be on the hook for the taxes as crediting those raises IRS issues which no one in their right mind wants to wade in to.
The LG Optimus Elite takes over for the most popular Ting smartphone to date, the LG Optimus S. The LG Optimus Elite is back in stock after some supply issues and also, starting today, is also available in a white model. The Elite is available in black and white variations and comes in at under $200. If you’ve already pre-ordered an LG Optimus Elite, you’ll get yours first. Only fair, right?
We’ve made a lot of progress toward rectifying the supply issues we’ve faced in trying to keep a healthy stock of Ting devices available. We feel we’ve got a much better handle on the situation and our partners are stepping up their respective games to ensure we don’t have another challenging device period like the one we’re now emerging from.
Another popular phone, the $205 Samsung Transform Ultra moves from backorder to in-stock. If you made a backorder purchase, your phone will leave the warehouse on Monday Aug. 6 if indeed it doesn’t start its journey on Friday.
We’re continuously working to get the gear you want into our lineup. In our next device update, we’ll have some more exciting news on this front. Spoiler alert: that means things like an LTE hotspot, a mid-range LTE smartphone, an inexpensive slider, an accessible phone for the visually impaired or really, anyone that prefers big buttons and large fonts and the very early stages of a bring your own device plan.
We’re also working to get a Windows Phone handset for the devotees we’ve been hearing from. Unfortunately, this is a bit further out, likely in Q1 in 2013.
On another oft-requested phone, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, we’ve not made much progress in getting Google to give it up. As it stands, the only way to get the Galaxy Nexus onto Ting is with some hacking. As such, it’s not for the faint of heart but if you’re the hacker sort, we won’t stand in the way of your efforts.
We’re also working hard get the iPhone. No earth shattering news on that front as yet but we’re definitely seeing some progress.
It has been an exciting month since our last device update. While it has certainly been the most challenging in our short lifetime, we continue to make improvements and learn valuable lessons. We had anticipated further stress on the device ecosystem as a result of the deployment of LTE, but we were a little surprised at some of the issues we encountered. There is an expression “it is always darkest before the dawn,” and while we have had some challenges in the last 30 days, we are quite optimistic that things are going to get better in the near term.
As a public company, there are restrictions around how much information we can share in regards to our sales performance, but I can say that we have been doing well in spite of having some holes in our device lineup. This has placed additional stress on our inventory, but unlike many of the other challenges we have faced, we are thrilled to have this problem! Thanks to all who have helped spread the word!
Ting devices available now or coming soon
One of our most popular devices, the LG Optimus S, has sold out as of last week. We were always planning to replace it with the next generation model, but we were caught short-handed and had hoped to have it around for a little longer. The new Optimus Elite will be made available for sale as soon as we have confidence in shipping dates. Hopefully this will be online for pre-order in the next two weeks. We are working on getting some more Optimus S at a reduced price point, but can not confirm this today.
The Samsung Conquer is back in stock after being on backorder, however this device will no longer be available once we sell our current inventory. So if you are planning on getting this device, order soon!
The Samsung Transform Ultra is a very capable and popular device. We’re pleased to report we have it in stock again. After slipping into a backorder state recently, we have a good supply and expect to have it in our lineup for the next few months. We have had lots of positive feedback from customers on this well designed phone.
In the feature phone segment, we know there is a LOT of demand for a flip phone. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have had a hole in this segment for longer than we would like. The Kyocera Brio is a great value in the low-end, but for those who MUST have a flip phone, we expect to offer the Samsung M370 for pre-order in the next 2-3 weeks.
Looking further ahead…
Early in the fall we expect to offer a new Samsung slider at a great price point. It looks like we will also have a feature phone designed for seniors. That is, it has a large, easy to see and use numeric pad NOT a built in bingo app. Perfect for getting Grandma and Grandpa saving with Ting.
We are in the process of building in support for LTE within our backend systems, and while it is not that big of a job for our rockstar development team, there are some dependencies outside our control that prevent me from giving a firm launch date today. This is a high priority for us though, as many of the iconic devices we plan on offering in the fall will be LTE devices.
The LG Viper will be our first LTE device, available for ~$365 when we launch LTE. The Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC Evo 4G will be available shortly thereafter, barring any issues outside our control.
We have had a lot of demand for the Google Galaxy Nexus, and have spent a lot of time working on being able to get it for you. Because it is an LTE device, we must first launch LTE before making it available. I wish I could tell you that I am certain we will be able to get it after we launch LTE, but as of this morning I can not do that. Rest assured we are working on it, and if there is any way we can, we will.
The word on Windows 8 devices is that we are waiting for more information on what the roadmap looks like for later this year. My sense is that these plans are being finalized now / soon, and once we have more details we can properly evaluate how that might work for us. We have had a lot of demand for Windows devices, and we hear you!
Ting devices: On sale now!
As a token of our appreciation to everyone who has provided us with feedback, promoted our services, helped out other customers in the forums, or just been patient in waiting for devices to ship or become available, we are having an impromptu “it’s summer and we are always learning more about the device supply chain” sale (catchy title, no?) on some devices. Anyone who bought these devices in the last 30 days can contact customer support to get a credit for the difference.
After some supply issues, we are relieved to have the Huawei Express Mobile Hotspot back in stock and available for sale, at a reduced price of $110! Supplies are limited though, so don’t delay if you want one.
We have also reduced the price for the Sierra 250U 3G/4G USB data stick as of today, and is a great value for Windows users. Once we sell through our current inventory they will no longer be available.
If you are interested in having us contact you with breaking device news as it happens, you can sign up for our red alert, super special, breathless, breaking device news mailing list using the form below, or follow us on Facebook / Twitter.
As always, thanks for your comments, questions, and support of Ting!
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.
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.”
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.
When you’re trying to bring about a better way to do mobile, you face some unique and interesting challenges.
Case in point: recently, a Ting customer reached out to us to explain that he’d been billed for some data and couldn’t initially figure out why given that he hadn’t actively used any data. After some forensics, it turns out this customer has a data device that released and renewed its IP address. In so doing, it used 536 bytes of data or 0.0005 of a megabyte. There was no other data use on this device. Effectively, this tiny amount of data pushed him from the XS tier ($0, 0MB) for data and into the Small tier ($3, up to 100MB).
Rather than rubbing our hands together while laughing maniacally at our ill-gotten $3, then grabbing three sodas from the vending machine (that was my suggestion but it was summarily shot down) we decided to do the right thing. Not just by refunding this particular customer but by making a change to our billing policies for all Ting customers.
Effective today, we’re offering data grace in an effort to ensure that customers aren’t billed for data they didn’t know they were using; IP refreshes and the like.
In the first month of service, every Ting customer receives 20MB of data grace. This is to cover data that’s sent during the initial activation of a smartphone or data device. If you connect your smartphone to a Wi-Fi network before activating, which we recommend in all our Ting Start Up Guide video series, you’re already ahead of the game.
If you roll through the 20MB grace with willful data use, you’ll be billed normally. We’re not making the first 20MB of data free so much as we’re protecting customers against data that didn’t intend to use in the initial activation, phone setup and poking around process.
You’ll definitely want to make sure you connect to a Wi-Fi network before doing anything major like grabbing the latest Android update or pulling all your Gmail contacts in from the cloud on the mobile network, but 20MB will more than cover any data used in the initial activation.
Subsequent months, every Ting customer gets 1MB of data grace to cover things like IP refreshes and server pings. Again, basically, data that customers didn’t willfully use.