Multi-Device Subscriptions: Rogers Quietly Touches Off a Sea Change for Mobile

Analyst Blog

Dec. 7, 2010, 11:24 a.m.

Ladies and gentlemen, the revolution has begun.

Friday, Canadian telecom operator Rogers Communications announced it was introducing “new data sharing plans that enable customers to seamlessly and easily share data from one plan across multiple devices. With these new plans, customers can take their existing plans and apply a data sharing add-on for as low as an additional $15 per month” (Canadian dollars, plus tax).

The release went on to sketch out Rogers’ vision for the media tablet as the command center for accessing all sorts of data and content, and how Rogers is seeking to enable consumers to access this data and content seamlessly across multiple devices. The concept of multi-screen access has been trumpeted for several years, but real life implementation has been hampered by billing capabilities – consumers don’t want multiple bills and subscriptions for all of their various connected devices. The utopia in that sense would be one data plan for all of a subscribers’ devices – smartphone, feature phone, laptop dongle, media tablet, perhaps even portable media players and gaming devices.

Watch your KBs, MBs

You can bet that nearly every mobile operator in the world will be watching Rogers’ initiative closely. And you can make another safe bet that consumers will absolutely snap it up – if they are comfortable in how Rogers explains the accounting. Consumers don’t know how to measure (nor should they be expected to) the data they consume, so Rogers must be very deliberate and show consumers the data consumption by device in this multi device subscription scheme. You would also assume the plans will include some flexibility in terms of changing plan amounts as consumers must build a history of usage to really know what total amount of data they will be using over time. The scheme will be a huge success, particularly with high value customers (who tend to have multiple devices already) if the plans are easy to understand and manage. If not, Rogers could risk losing some of their best customers.

I hope they’ve gotten it right. Because if they have, they will have launched a killer sticky service that is a perfect counterpunch to dumb pipe syndrome.