With the buzz about the iPhone and my own situation with the “yellow wireless company”, I find myself again aggravated by the cell phone market; and the limitations that are imposed on us [as users/consumers]. I got married two and a half years ago, my bride and I had different cell phone providers, and it was a huge pain! I had to give up my phone for something I didn’t like or want so that we could save $$ on our phone service.
I had a Nokia, a small & simple phone; however, I was only calling & texting. So, off we marched to the store for something else . . . like frustration . . . all the “new” phones @ the yellow carrier had all these extra features. I was happy with my phone, why couldn’t they just give me a new SIM card so that I could keep my great phone & switch [which WE (as in the royal “We”) decided to do because not only did the new Mrs. have yellow, but so did almost my whole family]. I think we spent a total of 6 hours between the website and the store. I finally accepted a small “free” Nokia that was similar to what I was using <read VERY unhappy and not what I wanted>.
This change would make things easier for us, and I was on-board with that. Over time, my disappointment in the “new” phone grew, it had the company’s custom software and it limited the features. I started to do some research and reading and found out that in Europe [where they don’t always do things better] you buy a phone and you can switch from mobile carrier to carrier based on need or promotions or “whatever”. It got me thinking . . . hmmm . . . why aren’t phones more like PCs?
I mean really, most of us have the choice between ISPs. I spent time thinking about the early days of the Internet with AO
HelL, CompuServe, and a host of dial-ups that provided custom software to “help” you surf the net. I felt that they did more to hinder what a person could do then allow them to experience or explore the net. In time these were replaced by phone & cable companies that provided ‘direct’ access to the Internet but didn’t try to spoon-feed it to you.
Today, after more growing pains, you buy a computer from whoever suits your fancy and you connect it to your ISP, voilá the net is open to everyone. Linux, Mac, and Windows systems it doesn’t matter!!! Buy a cell phone & you are
forced obligated to a one or two year contract for a discount [sometimes] on your phone. I really hate this model! There are some carriers that are working to change the way we communicate, like Helio, Virgin Mobile, and Amp’d.
We don’t really have a service provider that will stick their proverbial neck out there for the consumer. I would love to be able to take My Phone [I mean, I did pay full price for my last one – 600$ worth!] to the better provider. I have left & paid the cancellation charges in the past. Yes, I had to re-input my phonebook; but it was worth it to switch. I was much happier with the other provider . . . and would still be there if not for the whole marriage and family issue.
Now, Alltel and Cingular are making headway in their own ways, Alltel, pushing the feature envelope & Cingular has almost every phone out there. But we are still left in the clutches of their service contracts, the fees, and hassle of changing phones.
I hope that we can help them “see” that if they provide the best service; including affordable and own-able media, connection to their network, and great phones; people would migrate and stay. Especially with good customer service, that can be a nail in the coffin for some.