Flip phone, smart phone, back to flip phone?

09 February 2011 04:18 PM CST

I had a thought the other day about my phone. I'm a pretty cost conscious consumer and am always looking for various ways to save a buck. So, over the past couple of months I've been using Skype and/or Google's new phone calling service (part of Google Voice), instead of using the minutes on my AT&T iPhone plan. When I'm at home it's a piece of cake to use my desktop computer for all the phone calls I need to make. And, the digital call quality is very, very good. I prefer using my headset on the computer. Now, here's where my thoughts start taking over ...

WiFi is everywhere. I can get a WiFi signal at Starbucks. At McDonald's. At Barnes & Noble. At the library. Pretty much everywhere I go. One of the only places I can't get WiFi is when I'm traveling in the car. And, even that is debatable. If I had a mobile hotspot I could just take WiFi with me everywhere. So, why do I need a data and minutes plan on my phone? Shouldn't I just buy an iPod Touch and use it for all of my calling needs (via Skype and/or Google Voice)? Then, I downgrade my existing plan to the free-est of the free old school flip phones and get a super discounted voice plan for emergency calls only. Boom, I figure that move could help me shed about $100/month on my phone bill. I'd still be able to download and enjoy all the apps available in the Apple App Store, I just wouldn't be able to enjoy them over the mobile providers network. But, come to think of it, how often am I actually drawing data from AT&T's network? Most of my power use is done over a WiFi network. Of course I'm speculating here and should probably find some hard data about my individual data use. I'm not going to because I don't think it's that important. The point is WiFi will probably keep spreading and will be more and more available whenever and wherever I need it.

To top this off, I read an article just the other day (the day after I had this thought) about how Verizon is moving towards a data-centric network. LTE 4G is their giant push towards data accommodation. They want more people using their data network because data plans are more expensive than voice plans. That's how they make money. More people on smartphones paying extra bucks for a big data plan. We'll see what the future holds - data plans controlled by the carriers or WiFi offered by retail, public, and private spaces that will cover all an individual's data needs. To take a look at that article click here.

Next time you see me I may be sporting an iPod touch and a super cheesy flip phone :)