The Coming Commodification of the Smart Phone Space
Bill Quick

Review: Google’s $179 Moto G puts every single cheap Android phone to shame | Ars Technica

The unlocked, off-contract phone is much better than its price tag would suggest.

If the big carriers – AT&T, Verizon, etc. – go ahead with their threat to do away with phone subsidies, look to see a lot more smartphones in this price range – and lower – come rolling onto the market.

The commodification of smartphones will follow, just as the commodification of pcs and laptops occurred, and is now occurring with tablets.

Not many will continue to pay six-eight hundred bucks every couple of years to upgrade phones when that raw cost isn’t being hidden by a carrier-operated loan scheme called a “subsidy.”  And there comes a point when, even with smartphones, good enough is good enough.

Moore’s Law will continue to make these little beasts faster, more powerful, more capable, and cheaper.  Look at me:  I have one of those fancy schmancy Galaxy Note II’s, last year’s Samsung Super Phone.  It can do an enormous amount of stuff, but what do I use it for?  Texting, the occasional phone call, reading, listening to music, watching movies and videos, keeping contacts and a calendar, and the calculator.

I don’t need a supercomputer to do that.

In fact, if I wanted to, I could buy a Nokia Lumia 520 windows phone unlocked for fifty-nine bucks that would do just about everything I currently do with my Note II, at less than ten percent of what I paid (am still paying, and will be paying for another 16 months) for the Note.

And once unlocked “good enough” smartphones become fully commoditized, look for the carriers to take it in the shorts as bidding wars on phone and data plans become the order of the day.

T-Mobile and AT&T are already enganging in a proto-version of the conflicts to come, with TMB’s unlocked plans and phones vying with AT&T’s GoPhone offerings.

Look for that to continue, and spread.


This entry was posted in Technology by Bill Quick. Bookmark the permalink.
Bill Quick

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.


The Coming Commodification of the Smart Phone Space — 2 Comments

  1. A while back I got rid of my iPhone as I never used all the advanced features and got tired of paying $100 or more per month for stuff I never used. Then I went to the ‘GoPhone’ and got very tired of everything about the thing. Most recently I bought a Moto-X from Republic Wireless that incorporates Wi-Fi to keep costs down and I’ve got unlimited everything for $25 plus taxes/fees per month. Like the phone and like the service. It’s a keeper. The wife is going to give up her iPhone at the end of her contract and get the Moto-X and sign up with Republic as well. She see’s mine and likes it too.

    • The Moto-X is a great little Android phone, and at a price from a quarter to a third of phones that don’t do very much more.

      The AT&T GoPhone plan can handle any unlocked GSM phone – for instance, it wouldn’t have any problems with that Nokia 520 I mentioned.

      Another option: Use Skype when you’re connected via WiFi (essentially free), and buy the T-Mobile 1000 minute Pay-Go plan (minutes are good for a yer) for a hundred bucks. I checked my own actual phone call usage, and it averages under fifty minutes a month.

      I can tell you this much – once people have to pony up $800 bucks every time they replace a phone, you won’t see them doing so every two years. That will come to a screeching halt.

Return to main page →
At this post →