AT & T to offer Incentives? Or is it punishment?

I was struck yesterday by the word choice that was presented when AT&T’s executive announced that they are “considering incentives to get consumers to reduce their data usage.” (See the story “AT&T Considers incentives to curb heavy data usage“)

What sort of incentives could they be talking about? And why choose that word?

Well, the last point is obvious.  The definition of incentive (by most dictionaries) is to encourage or motivate to action.  These are all “positive” words.  Things that make us shake our head in the affirmative. “Ahhh… incentives. Nice.”

We usually see these as pay bonuses, time off, gifts.  Additional “things” that would encourage us to do a bit more.

Of course, that isn’t what AT&T is thinking.  In this case AT&T is going to try to come up with some way to get people (their customers) to stop using a service they provide–most likely the service offering that led them to AT&T and the iPhone in the first place! AT&T is looking to “consider new pricing models to curb users’ data usage as it tries to keep up with growing demand.”

What pricing model would “encourage” you to use less of something you currently consume and enjoy?  I think this is obvious–AT&T is going to charge you more.  So the incentive here is a negative one.  [1.  I suppose I could be wrong.  AT&T could be preparing to offer rebates to people based on the percentage reduction in their data consumption month over month.  YEAHHHHH, right….]

What is perhaps even more interesting is this (and I will leave you with this thought):  AT&T isn’t saying “We realize you like using our product and our product is in high demand and thus we will increase the price and generate greater profits for our shareholders.”  They are saying “We realize you like using our product, but we don’t want you to, so we are going to raise the price so that you stop using it.”

Tell ya what AT&T, when my contract runs out, how about I reduce my data consumption to zero.  The Droid sure is looking better every day!


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