Mar 11th, 2012

T-Mobile’s Chief Marketing Officer, Cole Brodman, has suggested that carriers need to put an end to device subsidies to fix the undervaluing of handsets by users. Speaking at the GeekWire conference in Seattle, Brodman said

“It (subsidies) actually distorts what devices actually cost and it causes OEMs, carriers — everybody to compete on different playing fields… And I think it is really difficult, especially from a consumer perspective, because it causes consumers to devalue completely the hardware they are using…. It is amazing hardware, but it has become kind of throw away. So, it is unfortunate, you’ve got dual-core, multiprocessor devices with amazing HD screens that get thrown away at 18 months.”

T-Mobile deserves to be applauded for at least having some worthwhile off-contract plans for those who’d rather pay the full price of a device up front (I’d prefer if someone can confirm this in the comments, being in India I’m not a 100% certain of this). However, I must say that Brodman’s barking up the wrong tree if “undervaluing” of devices is actually that big a problem.

Even if a person purchases a device on contract, he values it greatly because of the contract. Lose it or break it, and you know you’ve got a large amount to pay to get a replacement. So I can’t see why a user would actually undervalue it because of the contract itself.

However, what does cause the “undervaluing” of handsets are the lack of software updates from the manufacturers. A perfect case in point is the issue with the Samsung Galaxy S. When a flagship device does not receive the latest version of Android that was released within 18 months of the phone’s launch, simply because of the company’s custom skin, it leaves users with no option but to look for another device that does offer the best Android device.

It’s nearly a year since the “Update Alliance” was announced at Google I/O, with all companies and carriers working on a promise to provide timely updates for at least 18 months. It was one of the highlights of I/O 2011 for me, but unfortunately, the situation has only gotten worse.

So, Mr. Brodman, I agree with you when it comes to offering users with cheaper contracts for those who’d rather pay up front for the phone, but there’s a bigger issue at hand. I use your myTouch 4G, I love the phone, and can’t point to any real reason to change it one and a half years later.

But I do feel tempted to cheat on it since it’s still on Gingerbread.

[via Briefmobile]