January 21 2009

Cell Phone Exclusivity Is Maddening

blackberry boldI am really getting fed up with cell phone exclusivity.

While cell phone manufacturers have been signing exclusivity deals for years, I don’t think it really got into the mainstream consensus until Apple made the iPhone exclusive to AT&T in the United States.  They then followed this up with exclusive deals in every country they launched the phone in, and it seemed to send a whole new surge of interest into cellular carriers getting the latest handsets exclusive to them.

While I still love my BlackBerry 8830, I have been using it 16-months now, and it is about that time your eye starts to wander around to changing your phone.  The BlackBerry Bold (AKA BlackBerry 9000) certainly has my attention as a handset I would like to upgrade to.  I’m finding myself more and more wishing I had a camera phone for blogging reasons, and this one has a decent one.  Add in Wi-Fi, world portability, streaming media capabalities and so on, and it is a good phone by any ones measure.

So, what’s stopping me from getting it?  Well, the same thing that stopped me from getting an iPhone; it’s exclusive to AT&T.

Say what you will about Sprint, my current carrier, but I am currently happy with them.  It doesn’t change the fact they are currently missing handsets such as the Bold, the BlackBerry Storm, the G1 and, yes, the iPhone.  Rumor has been that the Bold exclusive is a limited time deal, but there hasn’t been any word that I can find of it moving to another carrier yet.  I haven’t heard a peep about the plans on the Storm or G1 (or a similarly Android-powered phone) as of yet, and Apple re-upped their exclusive deal through 2011.

In the particular case of the iPhone, I know that AT&T has paid a premium to Apple for the deal, so technically they are coming out on the positive side of the arrangement.  What I question though is if it is enough to make up for the lost sales from people such as myself who refuse to change carriers to just get the latest shiny new gadget?  Sure I would love to stop carrying my BlackBerry and iPod Touch with me all the time and just carry one device, but I’m just not going to do it and be tied down to a company I have had less than thrilling dealings with in the past.

Hopefully the BlackBerrys will come off of their exclsuive deals by the time I really need to upgrade, but for now, well, Sprint isn’t offering anything that is really an improvement over my 8830, and I feel kind of stuck.  Come on cell phone makers, stop playing games and let people buy the phones they want from the carriers they want.

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