Good analysis in this TechCrunch post about the changing Cellphone market.
Is there any question what Google is doing here? They’re taking the traditional mobile model in this country, where you first choose your carrier, and then choose your phone, and turning it upside down. It’s what Apple started with the iPhone.
The networks have always been used to being “The Brand” – traditionally you picked your network and then saw what phones you could get. Yet in essence they’re just providing a commodity (the connectivity) and most of the user experience is dictated by the phone the user holds in their hand.
Sadly the carriers seem completely unable to adapt to this changing world, and are still stuck in an old mindset of:
- Long term contracts with punishing penalties even if you want to upgrade your phone but stay with them.
- Completely opaque pricing so you can’t actually compare them properly.
- Bills which seem to bear no relation to what you were expecting to pay looking at their price list (which seems to be a Vodafone speciality in particular, but they’re all bad).
- Usurious roaming rates.
- Very restrictive conditions around data use (although this got better when Apple forced o2 to do the right thing for the iPhone)
Hopefully someone deep inside one of the carriers will realise there’s a competitive advantage to be had by stepping away from the old outdated model, and come up with a plan that:
- Has reasonable lock in period
- Allows you to upgrade as you wish for reasonable rates
- Transparent pricing
- Reasonable roaming rates (e.g. almost the same as normal domestic use)
It has got to happen at some point, surely?