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.