Thursday, September 16, 2010

For whom Bell tolls.

Oh Bell. I wondered how long it would take their tentacles to reach into Virgin Mobile. Now I'm looking at one of the early indicators. Pre-Bell, Virgin always had a great web site. It was smart, sexy, easy to navigate, and didn't demand a 1+ GHz CPU to navigate.

Hardly a week ago I was on the Virgin site checking out plans. (What good would I be if I didn't follow the competition?) I was impressed with how easy it was to navigate. Especially when you step over to their parent's site. Man, is it just me, or do Bell's web designers take lessons directly from Emily in designing a helpful User Interface?

Well, now it appears that Bell's VP of Making Life Hell for Users took a look at the backend of Virgin Mobile Canada and said to the design dept, "Hey guys. This site is like, SO simplistic and easy to use. It doesn't AT ALL comply with corporate. I need you to take a look at it and figure out how to stuff it full of javascript. If this sucker even runs half decently on a pre-2005 PC or Mac, it's your jobs."

And boy, did they succeed. I literally can barely browse the site with my ol' beast of a laptop. Yes, I can see the pages, etc, but the CPU is nearly maxed just by clicking on a link, the fan doesn't even remember when it was able to shut off, and I gave up in five minutes. That's what I call clever scripting. Should I just upgrade my laptop? No doubt. I'm all for supporting the wanton waste of resources. I mean, shouldn't we all have new computers every year?!

But enough of that. I was talking about Virgin Mobile. As I said initially, up until recently Virgin had a great site. I had been checking out plans on nearly all the cellular providers in Canada, and I had to say that Virgin's was in the top three for easiest site to use. Plus, it was one of the easiest on my old hardware. (I had rated the sites: 1. Public Mobile, 2. Koodo, 3. Virgin. The worst two were Rogers and Bell; you take your pick.) In short, I was impressed that Bell had left Virgin mostly alone.

But I wonder what's next. From what I've been able to see so far, I know the first and second steps.

1. Begin making billing less transparent.
2. Reduce useability.

And three? Well, I can hardly wait to see what Bell's team thinks up, but I would hazard a guess that they'll need to take some steps toward reducing efficiency.

John Donne
Meditation 17
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

(Adapted by Jason Cole)

"No telecommunications provider is forever a monopoly, entire of itself; every CEO is a piece of capitalism, a part of the main. If a provider be washed away by change, Capitalism is the less, as well as if a superb cafe were, as well as if a friend's house were annexed by the neighbouring township or your own were. Any provider's death diminishes me, because I am involved in capitalism; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee..."

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