Smartphones

Google raises the white flag on transforming the US wireless industry

In order to guarantee Android's success in 2010, Google has snuggled up to the telecoms and given up on changing the US wireless industry to make it better for consumers.

The technology industry is full of once-great companies that held on to an idea, a product, or a platform too long and ended up eventually falling hopelessly behind their competitors and going out of business or being acquired because of it. Think of DEC, Sun, and Palm.

However, the yin to that yang is when a company doesn't give a new initiative enough time to run its course and pulls the plug too soon. Google has been guilty of this in 2010. The culprit is not a technology or a platform in this case. Instead, it is Google's multi-faceted strategy for transforming the US wireless industry. This ambitious scheme -- which few companies other than Google would have the influence or resources to pursue -- has been aimed at helping US mobile users. It has now been utterly abandoned.

The final indication that Google has given up on this altruistic idea is the Google Nexus S smartphone, which CEO Eric Schmidt essentially confirmed the existence of last week during his interview at the Web 2.0 Summit.

A decade from now, 2010 will likely be remembered as the coming out party for Google Android, but it should also be remembered as the year Google traded in its advocacy of wireless fairness in order to purchase Android primacy.

I'm sure there have been lots of high fives on the Google campus this year as the numbers were released showing Android passing iPhone and BlackBerry in US market share for smartphones. However, I hope that somewhere in a cubicle or a corner office at Google there have been at least a few head-shakes or face-palms, because Google has had to ditch some of its highest ambitions in order to achieve Android success. If you're really cynical, you could even argue that Google sold out the average consumer in order to bend to the wishes of the telecom companies and phone makers.

There have been lots of signs that this was happening throughout 2010 but the final confirmation is the Nexus S, which will reportedly be built by Samsung, sold by Best Buy, and locked into T-Mobile for wireless service. That may not sound like a big deal, if you don't know the history of the Nexus One, the predecessor of the Nexus S.

The Google Nexus One was released in January to breathless reviews from the tech press, but lackluster sales from the public. It was a fantastic piece of hardware, truly the best Android phone that had been released up until that point and some would still argue that it's the best overall Android smartphone to hit the market.

But, the most unique part of the Nexus One was that you could only buy it online from Google and that it was not locked to a wireless carrier so you didn't have to sign a two-year contract the day you started using it. The trade-off was that you had to pay the full non-subsidized price ($500) to buy "the Google phone."

For the US market, this was intended to be a first step toward mimicking the European wireless model where you can purchase your phone and your wireless service separately, giving wireless users more freedom to match up a preferred device with the service that made the most sense for the user's needs.

Unfortunately, sales of the Nexus One were not very good in the first quarter. Users still preferred smartphones that were $200 or less - even if it meant signing a long-term contract that cost over $1000 a year. Plus, many of the people who did pony up the 500 bucks for the Nexus One and had problems with it complained about Google's lackluster customer support.

The Nexus One, which was supposed to be opened up to all four of the big US wireless carriers, landed first on T-Mobile and then AT&T. However, before the long-anticipated availability of the Nexus One on Verizon, the product was cancelled. Then, the Sprint version was cancelled, too. Google eventually sidelined the phone and made it available only to Android developers looking for a testing device, and Schmidt said Google would not do a Nexus Two.

Now, here comes the "Nexus S," but the only resemblance to the Nexus One is that it runs the stock Android OS without any of the additional UI "enhancements" that HTC, Motorola, Samsung and others have been layering on top of Android (typically doing more harm than good).

When you combine this move -- assuming the Nexus S reports are as reliable as they appear -- with the fact that Google has cozied up to its No. 1 Android partner Verizon Wireless and punted on Net Neutrality for the US wireless networks, it certainly appears that Google has lost interest in helping shape the future of the US wireless industry to make it more it friendly for consumers. That's a major letdown coming from a company that once put up over $4 billion to bid for the 700Mhz spectrum for the sole purpose of meeting the FCC's minimum bid and forcing the winning telecoms to accept the FCC's open access rules.

Verizon's 4G LTE network is built on the 700MHz spectrum that it won in that auction. We'll see how closely it sticks to the open access guidelines when it goes live at the end of 2010.

Maybe ditching its wireless-changing ambitions was necessary for Google to achieve Android's success, but I like to think the two things could have co-existed. Google could have hired someone else to handle the customer service and retailing of the Nexus line but continued to offer unlocked, full price smartphones in the US to give users a chance to warm up to the idea. And, meanwhile, Google could have continued to put pressure on Verizon and other carriers to keep their open access promises.

We don't know the conversations that are happening behind closed doors. Google may be putting pressure on Verizon and other carriers in private while keeping a united front in public. But, it sure doesn't feel like it. It feels like Google has gotten so bullish about Android's expansion that it has tossed its consumer advocacy aside and assumed that an ascendant Android will solve all problems.

I'm sure that I will get a hold of the Nexus S and I will review it. I will probably even like. After all, the Galaxy S models are among the best Android smartphones on the market. But, based on what the Nexus S represents -- Google's surrender to the telecoms -- it will be tough to ever get enthusiastic about it.

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About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

70 comments
dexter.mahadeo
dexter.mahadeo

As an outsider (from Trinidad and Tobago), and a Google fan it is indeed sad that Google has given up some of their fight for the underdog - that's us the consumers. With all it's success over the years I thought that Google's principles and presence in the IT industry meant that the 'good can win over evil'. Guess I was wrong - everyone has a price. The sad thing is that most of the Third World telecom (we in Trinidad and Tobago have only 2 carriers - Digicel and B-mobile) follow the US model and this will naturally roll down onto us. This is the primary reason I haven't gotten a smart phone yet. I hate to be dictated to by the big guns. However, I need one to install the Logmein client to support my customers. I have had a Blackberry I got as a gift put away in a drawer for over six months because it can't support Logmein. I was waiting for an independent Android phone here too. Don't mind paying the extra. I guess the small man can't win afterall. BTW, I still have a Palm Tungsten C which I have been using every day at an average of once per hour for over 6 years - great device.

inject_yourself_with_liberty
inject_yourself_with_liberty

well, me don't think that there is any "European wireless model"... There are "America wireless model" and the "Rest of The World wireless model"... thankfully me don't live in America so me could choose what me want... anyhow, too bad for Google... business is business...

christop095
christop095

at least not in florida where they are the ILEC. I am moving off of them completely as their customer service is horrible!

Rambo Tribble
Rambo Tribble

After all, the best tactical withdrawal, like the one that won the Battle of Hastings, is one that looks to your adversary like a rout. Hastings eventually gave us the British Empire; Google could do worse.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Shows that google's clout is dropping. Unsure why the carriers woiulds try to please Google anyways - because of Android [which some have deemed a failure?]?

ben
ben

Instead of justifying or condemning Google?s desire to remain a profitable business, I suggest we take a closer look at the assumption that Google?s ?wireless fairness? concept is really in the best interest of the consumer. I?m sure Google?s higher ups thought so. But you said it yourself, Jason: consumers decided they prefer to get the phone from the carrier. Then you lament that choice. I think the problem is you see a promise of ?fairness? that isn?t really fair. I use Verizon, and I have always had the choice to pay full price for the phone and skip the contract. Same thing when I was with AT&T, and McCaw before that. I also have a huge choice of products I can use with my Verizon service. I have had that choice long before Google thought they should ?fix? things. Right now, in the US, the consumer has more choices than anywhere else. I can take the contract and get a couple ?droids for 100 bucks, choosing to risk that Verizon will continue to provide good service for another year or two. So far that?s been the good choice. The ?buy out? on my current contract is $200. Hm?I got two $500 phones for $99 with $200 at risk if Verizon suddenly falls apart. I think I made a good choice. What?s wrong with letting me decide? The Google model, where carriers could NOT sell phones, takes away that choice, and eliminates a level of competition among carriers. That doesn?t help consumers at all. So, what again was the problem Google was going to solve with their ?wireless fairness? doctrine? Maybe, instead of lamenting Google?s fall from altruistic heights, consider, just maybe, the idea was flawed to begin with.

gbohrn
gbohrn

I'm sorry, but did Google every have a chance to change squat. No. Unless they start using some of that bandwidth they purchased awhile back, nothing is going to happen. The carriers have been kings forever. Even if you have the coolest phone tech in the world, in the US if you want to play, you play by the carrier rules. Even companies like Qualcomm and Motorola have to bow to them (use the work there, so have the inside scoop on those dynamics). Until there is a break in the lock on the wireless bandwidth, you as a consumer will get what the carriers want you to get. Generally crippled phones that you have to pay the carrier to unlock features that are already resident in the phone. Carriers have big money in lobbyists, which is why they truly hold a monopoly over the consumer. Yes, they compete, but really??? No, not really. The US carrier model is broken. While we keep getting free or cheap phones, we are locked into this model as the carriers has have to get the money back from subsidizing the phone industry in the US. A better model is the consumer buys whatever phone they want, and pay per packet so that the heavy users are paying for what they use, instead of being subsidized by the occasional user. Unfortunately, not going to happen.

paul.watson
paul.watson

"...we have met the enemy and he is us." -Pogo It is always good to be a good steward of the resources one has, but doing so to one's own detriment seems to be what US consumers to best. It would require thinking to consider anything more that finding a cheap deal. That's too much trouble. It might even get so deep as to require math. WOOOOOOOOOOOO! Besides, everyone else is doing this and it is all that is advertised, so I'll just be like everyone else.

jhoward
jhoward

Like any other business Google has to make money. It is naive to think that Google has the consumer's best interest in mind when it makes any decision. In the end any decision they make is to increase profits and reduce operating costs just like any other business. While some initiatives benefit everyone and are easy to get behind this will always be the driving force behind any business. In other words - don't be so surprised that the lion you fed and helped raise one day decides to hang out with other lions. Lastly I would like to touch on the fact that this is still the century old telecom industry we are talking about. It actually has many similarities to the US oil industry in how it buys out new technology and buries it. Keeping this in mind I expect small steps over the next 20 years - Google Android is like our electric cars - they will have to be hybrid for now but eventually as the reliance on old telecom fades we will be able to make larger leaps.

neosaticoy
neosaticoy

I agree with you and I hope that Google comes to its sense of community and advocacy for the common man.

Hazydave
Hazydave

Google did sell the Nexus One unbundled, true. But hey, you could buy a Motorola Droid or Milestone exactly the same way. Others too, i imagine. That wasn't the real promise of the N1. And Google never came close to offering for real what they spoke of... other than, sure, a really good Android phone. First point of failure: the Nexus One might not have been locked to T-Mobile, but it only supported 3G at T-Mo's bands (1700/2100Mhz). So it was all but useless on AT&T, anyway. The there's pricing. Look at non-phone PMP/PDA devices, like the iPod Touch or some of the new Archos devices. Got that in mind? Ok, now add about $35 in parts. Now its a smartphone. The fact is, Google didn't offer a CE industry product price, they sold the N1 at the same artifically inflated prices as any other phone maker.. it was roughly the same price as the Droid, unlocked and direct from Motorola (which also meant nothing, since its unlikely any CDMA carrier other thn Verizon would have allowed the Droid on their netwok, anyway). Google could have offered the N1 at a fair price, but that would have queered any deals with T-Mobile or other carriers. They demand a high MSRP to keep the who US subsidy model going. Google did nothing to affect this, even out of the gate with the Nexus 1. No surorise that the followup is no different. And hey, google can't do everything, anyway. They did deliver Android, which has saved the cellphone industry from proprietary lock-in of all smart phones. And it will power things well beyond the smartphone. There are other ways Google could have protected their search empire, none of which would have been as much in the user's interest as Android.

john3347
john3347

One thing that has not been pointed out yet in this conversation is that the $500 price for a phone that typically would be discounted to $200 is a highly inflated price to begin with. Would you, the typical consumer, be more likely to "sucker" for a $500 phone discounted to $200; or for a $300 phone discounted to $200? It is the consumer's responsibility to control marketing practices and pricing by not buying a product or service if the price or contractual restrictions are not to their satisfaction. If the entire marketing model for cell phones and cellular service were revised so the consumer paid a fair and competitive price for the product and, separately, a fair and competitive price for the service, we would see the currently highly inflated "retail" price for the device drop drastically. If the 2 year contract for service were eliminated, it would shake up the provider and result in better service at a lower price. These revisions will never occur, however, until the consumer demands the change through their pocketbook.

BaapidMakwa
BaapidMakwa

Don't be too quick to indict the manufacturers. For the cell phone manufacturer, the customer is the wireless carrier, and they're the ones insisting upon model exclusivity and hobbled features.

viajero4
viajero4

In my humble opinion, the cell phone manufacturers and service providers are going to make absolutely sure that we, the consumers, come out on the short end of the stick every single time, no matter what, regardless of the quality or technological state of the devices or services they offer us. That is the basic American business model.

jhmblvd
jhmblvd

What a shame. You hope that a business will hold on to it's aspirations and dreams despite financial losses or temporary opposition. This opens the door though for another far sighted company with the courage to know that US consumers are waiting for a change and will move to it when one is presented.

bblackmoor
bblackmoor

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't teach it to read. It's no different from this hullaballoo about airport "security". For all of the noise that people are FINALLY making about it, the sheep will continue to buy tickets, and nothing will get any better. The TSA won't be abolished, and the big wireless carriers will keep screwing people over with multiple-year contracts, because consumers are weak and stupid.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Users still preferred smartphones that were $200 or less - even if it meant signing a long-term contract that cost over $1000 a year." Let's see if I understand. I can buy a phone for $200 if I agree to a two-year contract at $1000 annually, or I can buy the phone for $500 and then go shopping for my provider of choice who will sign me to that same two-year, $1000/yr. contract. Seriously, have I got that right? I don't know the ins and outs of the service price models, so please let me know where I'm off base. Is an extra $300 worth having the option to choose providers? Based on your description, Google has apparently decided US consumers are happy with the 'subsidized phone' model, so there's no point in it continuing to tilt at this particular windmill. Consumer advocacy is great but never forget that Google, like every other business, is in it for the money.

mike
mike

In a plutonic way... I'm not stupid. But the tone of the article seems inclined to consider that consumers are stupid and didn't realize what is being offered to them in a phone from only Google. I contend that only a small percentage of people actually care about the "openess" of a platform. As an example, one job interview I went on the manager asked me, which is more important. The reason something happened or the fix? I told him that it depended on who you were. If you're the customer it is the fix. Not the reason. They want to get back to work. The techs would want to know the reason. So as to understand why it happened and how to avoid the issue in the future. Same for mobile phones. Most people just want it to work and have some options when it comes to applications. iPhone offers that and Android does it well too. I went with a Droid, not because it was open, that was a bonus for me. It was because the GPS feature was free, kinda... I don't pay extra for GPS it comes with the service/data plan. But again, i don't consider Google caving. I consider it a flawed plan to begin with.

adamgardner
adamgardner

Google could certainly have "risked it all" and actually purchased that spectrum in the auction, then had a lot more leverage in marketing an unlocked phone, providing their own subsidy to purchase the phone along with Google Wireless service. But they didn't. They didn't abandon consumer choice, they realized consumers in the US did not want that choice, and chose not to lose billions of shareholder money pursuing it. The tone of this article seems to say more about Jason's lean towards a planned economy where benign and omnicient dictators can fulfull the needs and desires of every consumer, directing capital towards the appropriate place at precisely the right time. That was tried. It was called the "Soviet Union". They couldn't even keep the supermarket shelves stocked. I'm fine with the outcome here. We get a phone with UI/function free from carrier interference. For a few hundred bucks, we can take our business to a different carrier, where we make a trade for freedom (ala iPhone). What we have here, is choice, and competition. I'm having trouble seeing the downside. You want something that isn't offered? Here's a suggestion: put together a business plan, perhaps even a prototype, and go seek capital from the market to make it happen. That's the way our system works. Private companies are not pro-consumer or anti-consumer. They are pro-shareholder, which as it turns out most of the time automatically makes them pro-consumer.

ShockMe
ShockMe

If they could guarantee a particular quality of service. Prepay for a tiered quality of service and a set cap. Then a fair rate per packet thereafter. That way we know the true cost of the decision to watch Hulu all day on our phones. AT&T is doing something close by providing data tiers but they simply don't have sufficient backhaul to do their various smart phones justice. Don't like it? Build your own network.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Stop buying what they're selling. Get over the notion that you NEED 24-hour phone and Internet access. As long as people think they want to talk about Aunt Gertie's gall bladder from Wal-Mart or read what Justin Beiber Tweeted in real time, the providers will continue to charge what the traffic will bear. After all, they're in business to make the largest profit possible.

xangpow
xangpow

No matter how "friendly" a business looks in public we should never, NEVER, forget that the number one rule of business is "MAKE MONEY!!" So just because Apple, Micosoft, or Google give 10 million dollar to a school or hospital does NOT make them heros. They do that so they can write it off during tax time. So yeah they get their 10 million back. As for googles "we like the consumer" policy? I dont belive them for a second. :P

David_J_M
David_J_M

Not all wireless carriers would require the signing of a contract. This would free people up to have a really great phone on a carrier that wouldn't require a long term contract or high monthly rates.

ben
ben

You can skip the contract and buy the phone, go shopping for your provider of choice, however you get your phone. Either way you will pay to use your smart phone. $1000/yr is about $83/month, for which I can get incuded long distance (in country), plus unlimited data. Compare that to your land-line if you add unlimited LD, and add in your broadband data - probably more than $1000/year and you have to be at home to use it.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Yes, the cost is roughly the same for the wireless plans (although by being without a contract you can sometimes save a few hidden fees). The real issue comes if you're having problems with your service provider and want to take your phone to another carrier (or another carrier starts offering a new plan that will save you money or better fit your needs). With a two-year contract, you're stuck. You can't move, or you have to pay $150 to $350 termination fee. You also can't upgrade or change phones very easily (without additional fees) if you're tied to a two-year contract.

jk2001
jk2001

I've been looking at WiMax for my own network. It's not that expensive, but might be hard to set up. The "killer app" would be a reseller network that pays me for carrying traffic.

kpbarry
kpbarry

I'm on call 24x7 and have to be able to work remote if necessary, but otherwise, I'd be ready to throw my sucker in the dirt and go with something like MetroPCS for $40/month (taxes and fees included - supposedly). I'm only days away from my two year contract with T-mobile being over. I had been planning to go month to month because they actually had a non-contract price that was $20 less per month (no contract, no subsidized phone). My G1 died before the end of the contract. I got a Vibrant practically new off of Craigslist and saved a lot compared to full retail price, so this would have been a real cost savings, and I would have had the freedom to leave anytime I wanted. But they have taken that month to month pricing off of their website. Supposedly you can still get that, per some posts that I read on a blog, but you have to call and ask for it or go through a third party vendor. I don't like being screwed with. They had better play ball or I'll find another carrier. I always considered T-mobile the most non-evil carrier, but their coverage sucks when I travel to rural areas to visit family. I have little incentive to stay with them if they don't compete with favorable terms.

JCitizen
JCitizen

cell phone very often, so I got a sweet deal, from Alltel pay-as-you-go for 15 cents a month! As long as I make a single one minute phone call a month, I get [b]NO[/b] non-usage charge of $4.20. I've been in the poor house many times, and never had to drop my phone because of that. They got bought out by Verizon, but I'll never drop that deal as long as it is still offered! I imagine this is just one example of what you can get if you avoid the temptation to pick up every new gadget that comes along. I'm actually glad folks do that though, as it encourages innovation. As long as they are happy with it, so am I. I use my built in truck phone more often, as another pay-as-you-go service. That one probably costs me $40 dollars a year as I never use up the basic time fee. I like that one, as I can get things done while driving, and not getting distracted by using a hand held. If one of my contractors is using the vehicle, I can keep a running tab on their safety and progress.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Before I bundled my phone with DSL and satellite, my combined local and long distance bill averaged around $30 a month. Obviously I don't need unlimited LD. With Dish and DSL the bundle is around $130. That's comparable to what I was paying Time-Warner for TV service by itself, and $45 less than the total of individual TV, local, LD, and DSL services combined. Admitted, that's more than a $65 phone contract, but it's not like the phone could replace the satellite and DSL services. I'm not going to use a 4" phone as my primary device to watch TV or get on the web. Heck, I wouldn't even replace my land line for voice, since I don't want to keep up with where the phone is, whether it's charged, etc.

ben
ben

If you payed $100 for a $500 phone, and then you have to pay $350 to move to another carrier, you're still $50 ahead. ???

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Doesn't a termination fee apply for breaking the contract regardless of whether you bought the phone yourself or from the service provider? It may be smaller, but doesn't one still apply? I submit that if you are routinely buying $500 phones more frequently than every two years, a $200 termination fee (less if the phone isn't subsidized?) isn't going to be a stumbling block.

taylorstan
taylorstan

It was congress that dropped the ball on this on. They had a wireless provider bill that would have eliminated the "early termination fee". Of course the cell providors bought that bill, so it failed. Only thing that will save consumers are the net-10's and rebel no-contract service providers. But that's only if you want to use models from two yrs ago.

JCitizen
JCitizen

under Alltel, but many have speculated that if I ever dropped it or tried to modify it too much, I'd lose the original deal permanently. I really don't know for sure; but I know the state blocked the buy out at first to protect consumers here, so maybe it is just this state that is enforcing the 'grandfathering' of these contracts.

ben
ben

Got my Mom a one of those plans meant for emergency use only abd it cost almost nothing. After a few months she realized how handy it was, so I "upgraded" it as my "friends and family" plan for $10/month and she can use it all she wants. There are a lot of choices. Full boat costs more than bare bones...go figure..

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

or has it been discontinued and you were 'grandfathered'? I've avoided a cell phone because I've been unwilling to pay the rates, but I'd be on that like stink on rice or white on ... whatever.

zd
zd

I'm surprised the service rental charge is the same without a handset; in Europe it's not. I believe the telcos in the UK work it out to pay for the phone over 18 months (does anybody know for sure here?). When comparing the meerkat you should really build a simple spreadsheet of all the variables - although few people can be bothered for the sake of a few quid. The best thing you can do to lower costs is to cut a deal with the customer loyalty team of your current telco.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

that the contract resets and you're starting over at the beginning of the two-year period. But if I didn't make it clear, I was talking about a termination fee if you didn't purchase the old phone from the provider, and weren't planning on purchasing the new one from them; if you wanted to terminate a two-year service contract, with neither old or new phone being supplied by the provider.

ben
ben

All the carriers I've used over the years let you upgrade with no termination fee.

bob
bob

I don't get why people complain - $500 phone $100*24 = $2400 service with data plan $2900 total Bad customer service experience almost guranteed $200 phone $2400 service with data plan $2600 total with chance at better customer service and you pay $300 less. If you are not happy with the service after 12 months $200 phone $275 early termination fee $475 total cost of phone still $25 less

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

you don't have a contract and are just on a month-to-month plan. Keep in mind that $500 is for a super-premium phone. A lot of the "free" or inexpensive smartphones would be $100 to $250 unsubsidized. In the end, this doesn't change the fact that the real issue is being locked into a carrier for two years, which becomes anti-competitive because the carriers have less incentive to offer great deals on their service to try to win customers from other carriers mid-contract (as a result, the price of the services is badly inflated). Instead, they just offer sweetheart deals on phones to try to get you to swap for the devices rather than the service, and then lock you into an overpriced contract for two years. US customers need to wise up about this. I think Google originally had the right strategy of trying to educate the public to change their expectations.

JCitizen
JCitizen

and this is desert country! If we don't like one provider, their is always another. Verizon has them all beat, hands down, around here. You can also jail break almost any phone, but I don't know what that would do to your contract, if found out. I never read the EULA.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

Our phones are 7-8 years old (can't recall exactly). The SUV is 8, the car is 10. The only reason my desktop is fairly new (2 years) is someone gave it to me. Same with the laptop (about 3 years). My deer rifle is over 20. The point is, this stuff all works fine. As another poster said, I got tired of being in debt just to have the latest stuff. Know what? I don't miss it. We just sold our over-sized house in California and escaped to another state where we are buying within our means (yeah, I know, I need to update the profile). Yep, had it with the never ending upgrade cycle just to have the latest whiz-bang gadget. If I see a need, then I'll get it.

xangpow
xangpow

Once again I agree with you, why do so many IT people have the attitude of "I cant use that, its soooo....last year" there is nothing wrong with last years models. If you HAVE to have next years models today, maybe there are other issues in play?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

My laptop is a seven-year-old A31, my cell phone has the Cingular logo on it, and my desktop-the newest tech I own-is still almost 5 years old. As long as it meets my needs, I will use it until it dies. Now, as far as the great unwashed masses go, yeah, you're probably right. But I've been deep in debt and managed to get out; I'm not going back.

wwwqueen
wwwqueen

Please don't forget how overpriced these things are, they not only make a profit on way overpriced services, they make a huge profit on the way overpriced phones as well.

taylorstan
taylorstan

But we are a nation of consumers...latest greatest.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Imagine if Comcast made deals with Intel and AMD to manufacture motherboard chipsets with network interfaces that could only connect to Comcast,..." Ever try connecting one cable company's 'set-top' box to another company's system?

jfisher
jfisher

Yes, but it is still an anti-competition practice to lock the phones. Imagine if Comcast made deals with Intel and AMD to manufacture motherboard chipsets with network interfaces that could only connect to Comcast, while at the same time you would have to have a computer with said chipset in order to use Comcast as your ISP. Comcast has plenty of competition, so users could still switch ISPs. Now imagine if all of the major ISPs requires locked network interfaces to connect to their network. Hey, there would still be competition in the ISP market. Of course, their customers would have to buy a new computer in order to switch ISPs. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? But that is exactly what the cell phone service providers are doing.

JCitizen
JCitizen

As long as there are competitors in any given market, the anti-trust rules do not come into play. So far as I can see, there is still plenty of competition in my area, at least.

jfisher
jfisher

Worse, most phones are locked, so even if you own a 2 year old phone, it still will not work with any other provider. Why is the DOJ not dragging cell phone service providers and manufacturers into court for unfair trade practices? It would be different if there were some technological difference, but there isn't. They are using the same phones, but purposefully altering them for no other reason than to lock the phone to their service. That is clearly an unfair trade practice. Why does Microsoft get dragged through the coals for embedding IE, even though you could still run any browser you wished, while they sit back and let the cell providers get away with purposefully locking cell phones to their service?

wbranch
wbranch

Nevermind that the sole purpose of the early termination fee is because the provider sold you a subsidized phone. Yes it's crazy that they sold you a phone for 1/2 or 1/3 of the price, then if you opt out right away, before they can make back their money on the monthly service plan, they expect you to pay the difference on the phone. If you don't want to pay early termination fees, buy the phone at full price.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

is if they realize that the two-year-old models from the lower tier providers are useful devices, and that they don't HAVE to have the latest hardware.

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