Retailers urge cellcos to remove consumer barriers

John C. Tanner
28 Feb 2012
00:00
News
Daily News

Big-name retail players urged the mobile industry to abandon locked devices, confusing data plans and closed ecosystems if they want the era of the “connected consumer” to reach its full potential.

Brian Dunn, CEO of US-based retailer Best Buy, said mobile broadband, apps and connected devices (to include automobiles and appliances) are reshaping the retail game and changing the way consumers shop, but that limited access to smartphone/tablet level technology remains a barrier.

“The smartphone redrew the line in the digital divide, but comparatively few people are using these devices,” Dunn said during the morning keynotes of Day 1 of the Mobile World Congress Monday. “We call on the mobile industry to provide better access to these life-changing technologies.”

Dunn criticized the practice of locking devices to networks because it inhibits growth, drives up prices and makes it difficult to create customized plans to suit different customer needs.

“We need to drive out complexity and make devices more accessible with freedom of choice,” he said.

Dunn also called on operators to develop data plans that are more reasonably priced and less confusing. Dunn said that while he understood the rationale for dropping unlimited mobile data plans in favor of tiered plans, the mobile industry needed to do a better job of getting customers to understand the value of the new data plans.

“They don’t think in terms of megabytes,” he said.

Also during the morning keynotes, eBay president and CEO John Donahoe credited mobile with becoming the “central dashboard” in consumers’ lives and changing the way they consume products.

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