Using editorial to fight carrier control
I have been thinking about this one ever since the Nilay's article Five years after the iPhone, carriers are the biggest threat to innovation, and especially after listening to the OG gang's discussion on last two Vergecasts:
"And the first thing, the very first thing i would say is: these two giant companies, and Sprint [something something], they have to build interoperable networks. You have to be able to take a device from AT&T to Verizon. And if you want to break your contract, you have to pay and do whatever, but there should be..."
I obviously agree with this. Hell, I expect everyone agrees with this, except probably the carriers themselves. And writing opinion peaces and talking to the FCC (or whoever) about this issue is all good, if possibly of limited probability for success.
"We have to create a real market for unlocked devices, that you can pick a carier, and that's it, that's step one"
But except educating consumers/readers, and demanding some government action, how can we hope to achieve that? And if this is Step One, maybe we can aim our efforts to the first (feasible?) half of that step, call it Step Zero, or maybe Step 0.5 (catchy, right? ;)
In my opinion, calling an iPhone or a Galaxy S III a "$199 device" is misleading at best, and anti-consumer no matter how you look at it. That's propagating carrier's own marketing, along with (or even omitting) the small print. That's why you get unreasonable pricing expectations from consumers, and quotes like this from the (potential) device makers:
"I have no idea how you can make a $199 product with embedded data without subsidies"
So instead of laughing at the price of an unlocked Lumia 800 when it was offered in the US, like some (most?) writers of the Verge did on various podcasts, and instead of calling an (unlocked) Galaxy S III Developer Edition "pricey" at $599, when it comes without a contractual obligation worth over $2,000, maybe you could decide, collectively as The Verge Editorial Team, to report real prices on all phones, whether there is a subsidized version or not.
I could go on for another 500 words to describe how this would level the playing field for device makers, how it would help competition if users got accustomed to paying real prices and not getting locked into two year contracts. Sure, it's only half a step because you can't take that SIII to TMobile, but if you own it, you can at least sell it and get a new one.
I could go on, but I don't think I have to. If you are reading this, chances are you are probably a well informed and intelligent individual that could work out the (possible) ramification if the whole industry, tech press and all, started calling things as they actually are. These things (smartphones) are too important for us gadget lovers to leave it to carriers to dictate the terms and shape the conversation..