Last week at the GeekWire Summit, T-Mobile's CMO Cole Brodman said that if he could change one thing in the mobile industry, he would get rid of device subsidies. While we were a bit skeptical of how sincere the statement was, it seems Brodman isn't backing down. In a blog post on T-Mobile's website, the executive reiterated his stance that subsidies distort the real value of devices and create a "disposable marketplace for some pretty amazing products." Brodman also pushed T-Mobile's Value Plans, which he claims represent a break from the subsidy model: customers can buy an unsubsidized phone or bring their own compatible device — such as an iPhone — to the network in exchange for reduced rate plans. While these plans are only a small portion of T-Mobile's product offerings, Brodman seems to think this is a positive direction for the whole telecom industry to move in.
In the future, my hope is we will see the U.S. industry follow our lead and move away from the subsidy-only model. Not only would this help level the playing field and foster competition, it would also help consumers by keeping rate plans affordable, providing more transparency in how they purchase wireless and it could encourage a robust, consumer-driven market for affordable (yet still amazing) used smartphones and tablets.
We're still unsure if the average consumer would be in favor of switching to a model that includes an increased up-front cost for a device and smaller monthly payments, but it's impressive that Brodman is standing behind his comments.