T-Mobile has Jump. AT&T has Next. Now, Verizon is looking for an edge of its own in the emerging upgrade pricing plan war.
Verizon CFO Fran Shammo announced the new Edge plan during a conference call on Thursday but offered no details. Soon, the rest of the story emerged on the leading wireless carrier's site.
"If you want to stay on top of the latest technology, the new Verizon Edge device payment plan offers an affordable way to upgrade to the newest device and satisfy your love of technology," said David Samberg, a public relations manager at Verizon Wireless. "Verizon Edge is a flexible equipment payment plan that spreads the retail price of a phone over 24 months. You can also upgrade to a new phone after six months if 50 percent of the retail cost has been paid."
Verizon's Take on Upgrades
Samberg explained how Edge works: Choose the phone you want and sign up for a month-to-month service plan. The full retail price of the phone will be divided over 24 months. You'll pay the first month at the time of purchase.
Every six months, as long as 50 percent of the cost of the phone has been paid, you can upgrade to the newest basic mobile phone or smartphone available. There are no long-term service contracts, finance charges or upgrade fees with Verizon Edge. Verizon Edge will be available to customers on Share Everything plans starting August 25th.
Upgrade Plans: The New Black
"The new upgrade program is the new black. It's very fashionable," Roger Entner, a wireless analyst at Recon Analytics, told us. Some industry analysts are suggesting the industry is seeing a revolution, but Entner said whether the new upgrade plans qualify as an evolution or a revolution depends on whether consumers take the wireless carriers up on their new offers.
"Nobody is being forced into these plans. If you want to optimize your spend, upgrading every two years is still the most cost-effective way," Entner said. "But if you are among the segment that really wants to have the newest phone every year or even faster, then they are providing now a slightly cheaper option."
So where is Sprint playing in this new trend? So far, Sprint is nowhere to be found. Entner said the third-largest wireless carrier looks increasingly one-dimensional in a three-dimensional war for the wireless customer.
"Sprint is responding to whatever the competition throws at them with more unlimited plans," Entner said. To his point, last week Sprint rolled out three more "unlimited" programs after T-Mobile launched Jump.
"AT&T has responded faster than Sprint. It's always a bad sign when the large companies in an industry are able to respond faster than the small ones," Entner said. "If we look a little further back when Verizon first introduced unlimited plans, it was Sprint that was the last to react. You have to be nimble and fast. You can't complain about a lack of competitiveness when you are the slowest to respond."