Pogue: Why Handset Exclusivity Can Be A Good Thing

New York Times tech columnist David Pogue

As the U.S. government scrutinizes mobile phone/carrier exclusivity — the kind of deals that keep the iPhone at AT&T, etc. — David Pogue of The New York Times argues why exclusivity is a good thing:

Switching networks is not easy. There are two types of cell networks in the U.S. – GSM, that AT&T is built on, and CDMA, which Verizon is built on. Switching networks is not like hitting an on-off button. Building a Verizon iPhone will involve re-engineering the phone, which takes time and resources.

Exclusive deals encourage innovation, Pogue argues. His example: The iPhone’s Visual Voicemail service. AT&T, then Cingular, made special changes to its network to make Visual Voicemail work. It might not have made those changes if not for the exclusive deal with Apple. (Or it may have insisted on charging subscribers for the feature, like Verizon does for the BlackBerry Storm.)

Pogue also (rightly) wonders why Congress is focusing so much on the exclusivity issue — which he says, should be renamed “Why can’t we have the iPhone on Verizon?” hearings — when there are so many more important things wrong with the mobile phone industry.

Read his beef here. Our favourite:

15-SECOND INSTRUCTIONS This one makes me crazy. When I call to leave you a voicemail message, the first thing I hear, before I’m allowed to hear the beep, is 15 seconds of instructions. “To page this person, press 5.” Page this person!? Oh, sorry, I didn’t realise this was 1980! “When you have finished recording, you may hang up.” Oh, really!? So glad you mentioned that! I would have stayed on the line forever!

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