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A Real Voting Scandal:

The NYT reports on a major corporation's meddling in an important vote.

Dan Weber (www):
I blame ACORN/gay marriage/global warming.
5.27.2009 5:07pm
Smokey Behr:
It's already rigged in that only AT&T customers can text their votes in, and all other providers are blocked.

Besides, who cares about American Karaoke anyways? I'm too busy reading VC to care.
5.27.2009 5:08pm
martinned (mail) (www):

It's already rigged in that only AT&T customers can text their votes in, and all other providers are blocked.

Seriously??? Why?
5.27.2009 5:27pm
pete (mail) (www):

Seriously??? Why?


Because AT&T sponsors the show.
5.27.2009 5:34pm
martinned (mail) (www):

Seriously??? Why?

Because AT&T sponsors the show.

And that explains why AT&T has a sudden aversion to making money because...
5.27.2009 5:35pm
pete (mail) (www):

And that explains why AT&T has a sudden aversion to making money because...


I think the point is that if you want to vote you have to go get an AT&T plan to do so. That way the teens who watch the show will ask mom and dad to get them an AT&T plan and then AT&T has new customers from the most sought after demographic.
5.27.2009 5:39pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Prof. Adler:

Glad you agree that this is the best evidence of recent electoral malfeasance.

Cheers,
5.27.2009 5:47pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@pete: Yes, I figured as much. But on the other hand I assume AT&T handle the show's end of all the texts, meaning that presumably they get a few cents for every text. Given that, I don't see how blocking non-AT&T customers from texting their vote can be good business.
5.27.2009 6:04pm
krs:
martinned, I assume that part of AT&T's current strategy to gain subscribers is to find popular things and become the exclusive provider of those things. Last I checked (which was a while ago), if you want an iPhone in the US, the carrier has to be AT&T. Similarly, if you want to text-vote on American Idol, you need AT&T service. Maybe when people with money internalize the idea that cool = "probably held hostage by AT&T", they'll start signing up in droves, and AT&T's long-term gains will offset any short-term opportunity cost involved in not collecting revenue from non-AT&T subscribers who text-vote on American Idol.

I'm not sure what popular thing AT&T will lock up next, but someone probably knows.

Your economics may be better than theirs, but I don't think you're so obviously right that one can conclude that AT&T is averse to making money.
5.27.2009 6:35pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@krs: Actually, it occurs to me that there is another side to this. AI get fewer texts this way, so the revenue they lose has to be made up for by AT&T. So not only do AT&T need enough subscribers to make up for their own loss in revenue on the other end, they also need to make up for the (extra) money they're paying to American Idol.

By your revealed preference argument, clearly this approach has to get AT&T a lot more additional subscribers than I would have imagined. (Which does beg the question why, to my knowledge, no other phone companies in other countries are taking this approach. But that could be a legal thing.)
5.27.2009 6:43pm
Careless:
Martinned: it doesn't cost any real money to receive SMS. It costs money to receive them on a cell phone, which they're obviously not doing. I've got no idea what sort of cost receiving millions of emails is if you're paying for that, but it's much smaller than several cents each, and that's the sort of cost they'd be paying for receiving them (I believe). I wouldn't be surprised if a single new contract paid for their data costs for received messages for the entire run of the series.
5.27.2009 9:22pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Careless: Maybe the system works differently in the US. Over here, the charge for sending an SMS is shared between the different companies involved in the communication, from the company of the sender, who collects from the sender, to the others, including the telephone company of the recipient.

In addition, IIRC, if you vote on something like AI, they send you one or two texts back, which is where the real charge is, making such a vote much more expensive than a normal text. (I don't know for certain, I don't watch this kinda thing, much less vote.)
5.27.2009 9:28pm
martinned (mail) (www):
Wiki:


Mobile terminated short messages can be used to deliver digital content such as news alerts, financial information, logos and ring tones. The Value-added service provider (VASP) providing the content submits the message to the mobile operator's SMSC(s) using a TCP/IP protocol such as the short message peer-to-peer protocol (SMPP) or the External Machine Interface (EMI). The SMSC delivers the text using the normal Mobile Terminated delivery procedure. The subscribers are charged extra for receiving this premium content, and the amount is typically divided between the mobile network operator and the VASP either through revenue share or a fixed transport fee.

Mobile originated short messages may also be used in a premium-rated manner for services such as televoting. In this case, the VASP providing the service obtains a short code from the telephone network operator, and subscribers send texts to that number. The payouts to the carriers vary by carrier and the percentages paid are greatest on the lowest priced premium SMS services. Most information providers should expect to pay about 45% of the cost of the premium SMS up front to the carrier. The submission of the text to the SMSC is identical to a standard MO Short Message submission, but once the text is at the SMSC, the Service Centre identifies the Short Code as a premium service. The SC will then direct the content of the text message to the VASP, typically using an IP protocol such as SMPP or EMI. Subscribers are charged a premium for the sending of such messages, with the revenue typically shared between the network operator and the VASP. Limitations of short codes include the limitation to national borders (short codes have to be activated in each country where the campaign takes place), as well as being expensive to sign up together with mobile operators.
5.27.2009 9:35pm

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