Here’s my situation: I love using my iPhone. Not that it’s the best smartphone (I’m only on a 4!), but it allows me to do some pretty cool things. I get to use Twitter on the go, play Oregon Trail, heck, I even get to listen to music while my plane is taking off. Pretty cool!
Even better is that the iPhone 4S is out and available, and I would love to upgrade now that my contract is coming up.
One problem: Apple insists on using an outdated model of commerce that forces me to buy a contract with a wireless carrier. If I want to do all of these cool things, I have to pay over $1,000 every year to AT&T or Verizon for horrible service. Then I also have to pay Apple $200 upfront for the device.
The problem is that I don’t have the money to pay all of this to AT&T, and more than that, I’m unwilling to pay it. I’m willing to buy the new iPhone, but at this point, Apple is fully in bed with the carriers, which I refuse to continue to use. They are not getting out of that bed anytime soon, either, because of what they get paid for their devices unsubsidized. A lot of money.
My only option if I want to upgrade to an iPhone 4S is to buy it from Apple or AT&T (or Verizon), and pay AT&T for a voice plan, a texting plan, and a data plan. Why would I pay for all of this, when all I want is a data plan so I can use Twitter on the go? I just want data!
In addition to this horrible deal, I have to accept Apple capitulating to AT&T’s demands. Like putting a fake 4G logo at the top of my iPhone. Not only that, but I also have to deal with AT&T’s customer service. Legendarily cumbersome, let me tell you. I’m looking at a massive bill for something that I don’t want, using a company that I don’t want, all if I want to obtain an iPhone legally.
The keyword there is “legally”.
It brings me no great pleasure to do it, and I’m not technically sure that I’m allowed to say this, but I’m going to because Apple has left me no choice: I’m going to be pirating (in the sense that I’m physically stealing) an iPhone 4S.
I’ll be forced to smash a truck into the rather large window of an Apple Store, and steal an iPhone (or two, for kicks). Then I’m going to use Apple’s proprietary software to unlock the phone and use it illegally on AT&T’s network. Not only that, but it will probably be a quicker transaction than going to the Apple Store itself.
Again, I’d gladly pay for it. But I have no way to do so, outside of forking over an obscene amount of money on a monthly basis to a carrier. I’m just not willing to do that. My hand is being forced.
I’m specifically talking about the iPhone here, but you can easily make this argument about a number of smartphones (the Galaxy Nexus S which is from Samsung, for example), tablets, and other devices. All these years after the release of the original iPhone, manufacturers still don’t seem to get it: The only way to stop people from stealing your product is to make it easier to get devices where you want it, when you want it, at a fair price.
This sucks for the creative talent behind these amazing devices. But Apple is already paying them handsomely. The only people being hurt by these backwards policies are the manufacturers themselves. But they’re too blind to see that.
I’m sure they have their reasons in their heads as to why they can’t make their devices more readily available. But I’m also sure that most of those reasons amount to fear and a lack of understanding. They’re worried that carrier contracts will dry up. That it would lead to a slip in device sales. It would just lead to — get this — more actual sales.
They’ll learn that eventually. But it will be the hard way. After a long winter. And the iPhone will be usurped by the time that happens.
Too bad. It’s a fantastic device. And I’d love to pay someone to use it.