Jason Krikorian & Brian Jaquet with Slingbox did an interview with Geek.com about the recent launch of their SlingPlayer Mobile software. In the interview Sling does a good job of talking about their product and their marketing approach, but the part that was of the most interest to me was their take on the cellular companies. When asked if there was concern by the cell phone industry about data usuage, Sling responded,
“Actually, carriers could use Slingbox as a way to market wireless data plans and inform customers that they can watch their own TV on their mobile device. Data consumption shouldn’t be too bad unless someone watches hours and hours of Sling content on his or her device, which isn’t the normal usage pattern for the mobile client.”
Now if you look at the quote, they actually dodge the question by slipping a “could” in there to qualify their response. The cellular industry has their own content plans and Sling is definetely a threat, but they do bring up a great argument for why the celluar companies should be looking at Sling as a partner and not as a competitor. If the cellular networks could just look past their irrational belief that consumers will be willing to pay for the same media multiple times, they would see an opportunity and not a competitor. Just like the telco industry owns the broadband access into the home, the cellular networks own the access to those cellular lines. Instead of trying to sell content, they should instead be focused on the potential to promote higher data usuage by their customers.
Right now the internet cell phone plans are terrible. The web pages are impossible to navigate and the text is too small. There is limited value added to the subscriber. It’s certainly not worth paying $10 a month for. On the other hand, if I could get my favorite TV on my cell phone, I do think it would be worth paying something for. I don’t mind if the cellular providers want to charge their customers to use more bandwidth, but I think that by locking them out in lieu of limited media alternatives is not the solution. Whether Sling ends up creating agreements with the wireless network still remains a question mark, but by focusing on the data usuage, Sling makes a powerful argument for how they are a value enhancer and not a competitive threat.