I am starting to see the end of 2007 and it is time for some looking back. In my opinion, 2007 has been the most amazing year in mobile history. Bodes well for 2008 ;-)
I landed in Europe a few days back and, as every year, I started looking around for a data plan. I own a prepaid Italian SIM card (from Wind), the same I owned for years. Every single Christmas for the last five years, I looked around for a data plan that could make sense for me. I have an unlimited data plan in the US (with Verizon) and I am addicted to data, push email and the like (and chocolate, but you can find good one from Switzerland here...).
Last year, I scrambled for a full month. I looked at every carrier, finding 3 as the most data-friendly one. Wind had nothing. I tried to buy a 3 data card. I had to go to a store five times. I ended up empty handed. Using my GPRS "embedded" data plan with moderation, only in emergencies (and paying good euros for every sync).
This year, everything has changed. I went on the Wind site, they had three data plans for my prepaid phone... A 8 euros/month for 500MB. A 20 euros/month for 2.5GB. A 30 euros/month for 5GB. I went for the 8 euros, clicked on a link and boom, 8 euros disappeared on my SIM and I have a data plan. If I do not do anything, next month they will take another 8 euros automatically. Or I can opt out with an SMS message.
This is fantastic. 150MB will easily suffice, even on my iPhone. Everyone can afford it (looking at how much we paid for dinner last night...). And it was so easy.
Since I am a curious person, I tried to look at TIM. Same thing. The Maxxi data plans is 20 euros for 500MB. You can add it to a prepaid card.
Looking at the US, the same applies. Prices dropped with the iPhone to $20/month or below, on every carrier (Verizon excluded, where do they live, on the moon?).
2007 has been the year of the data plans. Data plans are a requirement for the mobile 2.0 to take off. We are ready. 2008 is going to be the year of mobile applications. I have been waiting for years for this moment. It was about time :-)