28 September 2007

Greedy telecoms

I've alluded before to my disgust with mobile phone companies (Handys and upgrading) in North America. This "phone-locking" business has to be one of the all-time major cash grabs in the history of corporate greed and I'm just waiting for the day customers are able and willing to say, "enough is enough".

Mobile phone customers in the U.S. and Canada are forced into one or two year contracts with every new phone they purchase. In contrast, new handys in Asia and Europe(?) are unlocked, which means customers can switch providers as often as they please. Why are Canada and U.S. customers getting the short end of the stick? There's probably a variety of reasons, but I think it's because telecoms have too much lobbying power, and customers have been conditioned to expect and live with this larcenous behaviour.

As I understand it, the telecoms' argument is that they are subsidizing the cost of the handy so contracts are a way to recoup their costs. My reply would be two-fold. First, if a business model with unlocked phones is thriving in Asia and Europe, why can't it work in North America? Second, why can't telecoms offer both locked and unlocked phones? Why!?

Perhaps the majority of customers would still purchase handys under contract, but others, like myself, are willing to pay a premium for an unlocked phone. I paid a premium price for my unlocked, unbranded HTC s620 Excalibur.

Branding--ugh. That brings up a whole other issue.

I understand telecoms installing software and altering functions of handys they offer so that customers can access whatever special features the telecoms offer. Fine. But for myself, I buy a handy to use as a phone, and for contacts. I don't buy a handy to watch video, listen to music or surf the interent. Ever heard the phrase, "jack of all trades, master of none"? So the notion of paying a premium price for a branded phone with telecom logos and junk software I'll never use is extremely galling, to say the least; it's pouring salt into a bleeding wound.

Relatively recently I learned that after 3 months or so some telecoms will now unlock your handy for free--except that you're still locked into your contract. I also have to acknowledge that at least one telecom I contacted said they could sell me an unlocked phone-- except that it would be a branded version. ::roll-eyes::

Update: Oops. I forgot to mention the cause of this rant. The impetus for this post was reading an article on bbc.co.uk talking about the iPhone, which says:

"An Apple software update is disabling iPhones that have been unlocked by owners who wanted to choose which mobile network to use."

The full article is here: Apple iPhone warning proves true.

No comments: