Friday, February 25, 2011
I still don't have an iPhone, iPad, Android or other so-called smart phone. In theory I should be the ideal target customer: I spend a lot of time on the internet, I love gadgets, and I could afford to buy such a device. The reason why I still don't have one is particular to Europe: Excessive roaming charges. Roaming, that is using your mobile phone outside your country, used to be extremely expensive even for regular mobile phone use. Then the European commission stepped in and limited roaming charges to under 50 cents per minute, but failed to similarily limit roaming charges for data transfer. Thus a short search on European roaming charges for surfing with your smart phone turned up rates around €1.50 per minute ($2 per minute), or €25 per month with a 50 MB limit ($35/month) with any extra MB costing €3.50 ($5/MB). Twice that outside Europe. My provider even helpfully offers to automatically block data transfer if I accidentally go over €200 in roaming charges in a month.
As I drive to work, and have computers both at home and at the office, my mobile surfing would most likely happen when I'm traveling or on holiday. And with Belgium being small, that usually means quitting the country. As much as I like the internet, I'm certainly not going to pay $10 for the privilege of reading my blog comments or e-mail for 5 minutes in a train. So for now, mobile surfing remains unaffordable for me.