Parallels Summit 2012: Will Ting Be the New Mobile Thing?
Amid all the Parallels Summit 2012 noise about cloud, managed services and hosting technology, The VAR Guy noticed there was a vivid blip in the otherwise beige palette of typical services: Ting. Ting is a brand new mobile service provider with a twist. Would you like to cut down your phone bill and add “mobile provider” to your value-added checklist? Read on …
Ting comes from Tucows, a company the The VAR Guy recollects is as old as the Internet. Tucows recently built out domain registration and hosting with Hover.com and now it’s poised to attack the mobile industry with mobile provider Ting. So where’s the infrastructure? It’s on Sprint’s network, but Ting has worked out an arrangement with Sprint, essentially giving Ting a big pipe it can resell into affordable data buckets.
Right now, Ting is in its infancy. You’ll have to buy an Android phone or mobile hotspot from Ting (though it seems a little white-hat hacking of an existing Sprint device would also work) and pick a plan. But after the initial charge for the phone, the monthly plans are easy on your wallet: You can pick voice, data and text buckets that start at “XS” (zero) and go all the way up to “XXL” (e.g. 3GB of data). Not sure which plan is right for you? Don’t worry. Ting will actually pay you back if you don’t use up the plan you paid for, and drop you into an appropriate bucket. If you go over, it’s not a big deal either, because Ting will just upgrade you to the next package level. It makes sense, it’s friendly, and quite frankly, The VAR Guy thinks it’s a breath of fresh air.
Ting launched Feb. 1, 2012, so The VAR Guy could sense that new-company smell on Tucows CEO Elliot Noss. But he provided some interesting insights into how Ting’s revolutionary mobile strategy not only could pay off for customers, but eventually may pay off for MSPs and VARs that want to add mobile provider services to their list of wares.
Over at the OpenSRS Blog, Noss laid out the Ting mobile reseller opportunity like this:
Over the next couple of months, we are going to continue refine the retail Ting experience – from purchase path to fulfillment to customer support. Meanwhile, we would like to start speaking with you now about the reseller opportunity. We would like you to help us design the best wholesale offering possible. We are also looking for a handful of you to participate in a reseller beta and be the first to offer Ting to your customers.
Durring the Parallels breakout session, Noss unveiled some interesting insights into the mobile world and Ting’s business. He called smartphones “little computers,” which is a much more accurate representation of our ubiquitous devices. He compiled that insight with the growth in smartphone proliferation and the evolution of how we use both phones and data. But because the phone companies (AT&T and Verizon were the culprits) don’t adapt to users’ mobile needs, “60 percent of customer support calls are about billing,” said Noss, which was a problem, and the very problem Ting can fix.
Okay, but why have resellers resell Ting? It’s not just a product, its also about customer service, Noss said. “Mobile ISP business [should be about] the customer experience and the customer support. Web hosts have more know-how on how to service ‘small computes’ than AT&T and Verizon,” he said, so naturally, they’d be able to cater to customer needs. They’ve already been doing it with SaaS and cloud. Adding mobile service provider could be a simple, easy and attractive addition to a reseller’s checklist.
Noss admits Ting has some growing to do, but the momentum is strong. “Mobile is the biggest technology trend undoubtedly in the next 10 years. We’ve seen a explosion around smartphones and probably the most exciting thing about it is that it’s just starting to [peak],” he said.
The bottom line for The VAR Guy? He’ll be keeping close watch on Ting as it opens up to the reseller community at large, but also for his iPhone, which he loves dearly, but hates to pay so much for. Noss said Ting is working on getting iPhone compatibility. The VAR Guy is hopeful an unlocked CDMA iPhone 5 may place nice sometime later this year.