My Moto X fantasy
It's Moto X launch day. Dennis Woodside steps on the stage and unveils the phone. He explains the various design decisions that went into the phone (prioritising increased battery life rather than very marginal jump in visual acuity you get by moving from 720p to 1080p; emphasising GPU performance rather than CPU performance, etc).
He then demonstrates the Moto Maker, which can be used to design your own phone.
Then he drops the bomb: the Moto Maker website is now live. You can go online right now, and use it to pre-order your own brand new, unlocked, individually-customised Moto X. Prices are $400 for the 16gb version, and $450 for the 32gb version*. (You can also choose to buy it along with a cellular contract, in which case the prices are lower.)
Then he says that Motorola will not have any country restrictions on the Moto Maker website. So long as you have valid credit card number, they will happily build you a Moto X and ship it to you wherever you live in the world. You can use it on any cellular network that uses GSM. (You do have to pay for shipping and any import taxes your country levies, unfortunately).
What do you think? I'm sure there are some practical problems with this scenario. In the US, this sort of open attack on the carrier-based business model would obviously generate resistance. Lots of countries (maybe all of them?) prohibit the sale of wireless equipment that has not been certified by regulatory agencies. Shipping and import taxes could prove to be prohibitively expense. And there's a big question of how to provide technical support for a product in countries where you don't have a physical business presence (though Amazon seems to manage).
Still, if Google/Moto actually did this - if we stipulate that these various practical issues could be overcome - then I expect that their biggest problem would be building enough handsets to meet the huge global demand would that exist for them.
* A note on pricing: Perhaps some people will think that $400 is still too high. Personally, I think this would be exceptionally good value for a phone that can be customised, and scores higher than the Galaxy S4 on GPU benchmarks. It would be an even better value proposition in If anything, the cost might be too low: Moto is supposed to be able to make a profit in this scenario, and it's not certain they could do so while selling at $400 per handset.
This post was inspired by the excellent "My Nokia dream" post a couple of weeks back. Credit where it's due, etc.