You can get online anywhere. Anywhere. From a coffee house to a bar to a plane. You can check your email from your phone or tablet - not just your computer. Sometimes it's free; sometimes there is a charge. But there are times that you can't get online and you need to BYOW - Bring Your Own WiFi. Or rather, get a hotspot device.
A few years ago before WiFi was ubiquitous, I got a little hotspot device for my computer. I could just plug it in and ta-da! I'm online and running, enabling my online addiction to continue.
This indulgence cost me $80/month for 10GB of data through Verizon. Later it cost me $50/month for 5GB. Expensive, especially when you use maybe 10% of what you pre-pay for that doesn't rollover into the next month, but when traveling to places with sketchy service, it was worth it. It saved me many times in business emergencies so I could have the flexibility to work where I wanted and maintain my freedom.
Then I learned about Karma. Karma is a just-in-time WiFi solution. You only pay for what you use. And multiple people can use your device in WiFi challenged places by getting an account and pre-paying for service. Rather than wasting $50/month for something I barely use, I can pay for what I do use and add on as needed. More economical and efficient.
No more overestimating to prevent overage fees. No more paying for something I don't use. Verizon still uses the model of estimating how much they need to support by having their customers estimate usage when choosing a plan. Karma doesn't make people work to figure out what they need - they just offer service at a fee. Verizon is focused on their own needs; Karma is focused on the customer's needs.
Needless to say - I got Karma.
And I went to cancel my service with Verizon.
I was thrilled to offload this $50/month bill for technically nothing. Of course, they tried to save my account. I told them that I was moving to Karma and didn't need the $50/month hotspot. Here is where I think they went wrong during the call:
- They don't know their competitors. They never heard of Karma. To me, that's a huge problem for Verizon. They should know their competitors - even the tiny startups. Startups are deadly to a big corporation because they are nimble, agile and are willing to take a risk to gain market share. Big companies are typically complacent and believe that they will always have market share (just not true). Startups have nothing to lose, which makes them a true wildcard.
- They don't have a just-in-time option. How can you compete with pay-as-you-go with a plan that's about estimating your worst case scenario where you don't keep overages? You can't.
- They aren't aware of the customer's needs and what they are experiencing. Arguments about coverage quality don't matter anymore when it comes to WiFi. 90% of the airports I have been in have WiFi. Cafes and bars have WiFi. Some hotels now have free WiFi. And the quality is pretty good for general business use. These arguments about quality and access become pointless. WiFi is becoming a requirement to offer anywhere - it's no longer an indulgence. Why charge indulgent prices for something so common?
I'm sure I'm not the only person leaving Verizon these reasons. They just aren't staying current.
To stay competitive, you have to keep up with what's going on in the world. Obviously, Verizon has lost touch with the ubiquitous nature of WiFi access. It's everywhere. And we are now in a just-in-time world - we don't overplan and overestimate anymore for anything. People have different needs than before for WiFi. Selling access to a "quality network" won't help you win; selling convenience and ease will.
Being the big company that's everywhere doesn't mean you will win. Winning today is about being agile and flexible to change and open to explore new models of business.