T-Mobile marketing chief wants to eliminate smartphone subsidies, realizes it’s impossible
Oh, the things some people say. Cole Brodman, the Chief Marketing Officer for T-Mobile, thinks phone subsidies are bad for the industry. And he’d like them to go away. But he’s quite certain that they won’t, because when given the option, people will always choose the device which appears to be cheaper.
OK, so it appears that Mr. Brodman is angry at subsidies because they don’t allow carriers to differentiate on pricing. Only they do, because at least in the US no high-end devices are launched as “free with contract” (in contrast to the UK and some other European markets). So T-Mobile, we assume, would really like for all phones in the US to be sold “full price” and then it can come and offer some models cheaper than its rivals. Only it could do just that today – so why isn’t it? Why not offer the highest-end Android smartphone for free, or even $49, on contract?
Brodman goes on to decry how today’s smartphones and the amazing tech that’s inside them simply get thrown away after 18 months. So wait, would he prefer it if T-Mobile and other carriers sold you phones less often? How does that make sense?
Sure, we’re at a crazy pace of hardware development in the smartphone world (mainly the Android devices, though). Today’s cream of the crop is overshadowed within two weeks or so by a new rumored flagship device. But if Brodman doesn’t like this, he can do something about it. The carriers themselves are one of the reasons why Android smartphones are being developed by manufacturers at such a rapid pace. The carriers keep demanding many different new phones, in the desperate hope that they’ll have ‘something for everyone’.
And T-Mobile is probably guilty of this more than the other ‘big three’ carriers in the US, since it’s the only one that’s iPhone-less. So it needs to work even harder at having a full portfolio of devices it can show people who ask for the iPhone.
Cole Brodman wants subsidies to go away. One would assume that being one of the head honchos at one of the big carriers would let him do just that. But no. Because he knows that the competition won’t play along. And he also knows (and admits) the fact that consumers will always pick what is cheaper outright, even if in the long run they end up paying more. It’s why this subsidy system has worked so well for so long, and it’s also why banks still exist and still give out loans.