Disclaimer: I am an AT&T customer with a data plan. I'll do my best not to let this "conflict of interest" interfere with my opinions expressed below.
You have to hand it to AT&T; they've got chutzpah! That, by the way, is not a formal psychiatric term. I could have said that AT&T is delusional, grandiose, or narcissistic, but everyone understands chutzpah.
In any event, a few days ago, The Boy Genius Report reported an internal email (later confirmed in an article by Information Week) indicating that AT&T will require data plans for all smartphone purchases beginning in September. This new development seems to be just another nail in the coffin of the already-tarnished reputations of mobile-technology carriers in the U.S. Recent stories have highlighted criticism of the industry for high pricing, excessive profits, exclusivity, poor coverage, and reduced capital investment. The federal government is concerned enough to begin investigations by Congress and the FCC. ComputerWorld writer Mike Elgan went off on the wireless industry a few weeks ago with his well-informed rant on the "10 things I hate about you."