T-Mobile's chief marketing officer Cole Brodman said he wants to get rid of device subsidies, though he has no intention of actually doing so. The executive made the comments during a panel at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle this week when asked how he'd improve the mobile market.
I think it distorts the economic reality of what devices actually cost, and it causes OEMs, carriers, everybody to compete on different playing fields. And I think it's really difficult, especially from a consumer perspective, because it causes consumers to devalue completely the hardware they're using, which is these days amazing hardware. But it has become kind of throw away. So, it is unfortunate, you’ve got dual-core, multiprocessor devices with amazing HD screens that get thrown away at 18 months.
He continued that it would force carriers to change the way they treat new and continuing customers, noting that some people often expect a phone at a subsidized price as early as a year into their contracts.
Killing off subsidies would obviously cause some problems, such as most consumers' unwillingness to spend upwards of $700 for a phone, or how it might affect rate plans and contracts. But none of this really matters, as it doesn't actually sound like subsidies will be going away any time soon. When pressed on why T-Mobile doesn't take the lead on this, Brodman said it would be difficult to start an industry-wide shift when you're only one of four players in the market. So although it was a nice sentiment, it was really just wishful thinking from the fourth-place carrier in the US.
You can watch the whole panel at the source link below, or jump right to Brodman's comments around the 21:46 mark.