Thursday, June 03, 2010

Anti-Consumer, Anti-Advertising: “Data Hogs” Is Nasty Propaganda.

The headline of an article by Ryan Kim of the San Francisco Chronicle is “Data hogs on phone networks could see meters on troughs.” To be fair, the term data hogs doesn’t appear in this article; the headline may have been written by someone else.

On the other hand, data hogs appears over and over – like mushrooms overnight – in article after article, such as the one by Matt Richtel in the New York Times. And on AOL. And the Christian Science Monitor. And Yahoo. And US News and World Report.

Don’t believe any of them – data hogs is anti-consumerist propaganda pure and simple. The massive media companies, chief among them being ATT, just want to charge you more for Internet access and bandwidth use.

Maybe you’ve been accused of being a…gas hog. Or a road hog. It is all about a “fair share” of some commodity presumed to be in short supply. It is almost always false. It is false in this case, too.

Data hog implies that data itself is in short supply – sounds provocative but untrue. There’s plenty of data to go around. (I’ll give you some of mine.) Bandwidth? There’s a lot of that as well. No, in this case, I suggest that media companies see all that “freeloading” as missed profit-making opportunity and they want more of it. They are greedy pigs, notwithstanding their supply of phone and interconnect services.

American companies such as Apple have made the world more accessible and more open than ever before, through science and technology that gives more people more access to data. We revel in it. It’s not just data that wants to be free – it’s access, too.

It doesn’t matter if talking heads say differently. In the NYT article, Edward Snyder, an analyst with Charter Equity Research, says: “The biggest data pigs in the world are the iPhone guys.”

I beg your pardon? We (technologists, marketers, advertisers) have spent decades creating a global culture which lives on the free flow of lots of data and which wants more of it all the time. In theory, it’s alright to charge for it.

But not to overcharge for it. That would make you, ATT, a money hog.

So what do you do? If you feel [a] trapped by these data-pig threats, move your data phone sub to other carriers – presuming they don’t all jump on the bandwagon. Or [b] keep checking your favorite social media for a grassroots movement against swinish profit-making – then join the fight.

Do not, however, believe in media corporation propaganda about data hogs.

PS: I may have lost a bit of my normally even temper on this particular issue. But some of my best friends are data hogs – see the attractive engraving of us all praying for more bandwidth, above.


Richard Laurence Baron said...

Any resemblance between data-hog name-calling and the "Joe Camel Problem," vis-a-vis advertising, should be crystal clear.

S. Reeves said...

I resent being identified as a data hog due to my purchase ($$$) and active use (that's what it's for) of my elegant iPhone.

We already pay much more (extra extra) for our company internet fees so we can access all the graphics we need to produce.

As you say Richard, the hogs are not users. I better sign off before I use too much data time.

brandy obvintsev said...

Ah! Well hopefully this will smack some sense into Apple about who they jump into bed with!

Richard Laurence Baron said...

You're right, Brandy - though I sense that Steve Jobs is a bit tired of partnering with you-know-who.

Rachel said...

So AT&T's having a problem with data hogs ...

... like iTunes has a problem with download hogs?
... like Twitter has a problem with tweet hogs?
... like Zappos has a problem with shoe hogs?

It's called success, philistines. I'm sure the folks who made the Edsel, New Coke, and the Betamax would have sold their souls for just such a problem.

Mary Jo Martin said...

What can I say, RLB. When you're right, you're really right. But, maybe this will mean alternatives for the AT&T lock on all of our elegant iPhones (as Susan put it).

Interestingly, as a data Goddess, I am not a data hog on my iPhone (maybe I can't see the small print). But I sure am when it comes to getting data for my clients - for which I use a machine connected to a big display.

The main point is that this is NOT a situation of constrained supply - for which you can make an argument for raising prices or limiting access.

I bet Al is mad that they're messing with his Internet.