Awesome piece by Molly Wood and I agree wholeheartedly with her. As someone who was brought up in the Middle East buying phones at full price was normal and coming to Canada and having to sign a 3-year contract was a big culture shock. It didn’t make sense to me then and it still doesn’t now. The reason why is beautifully summed up below:
When Google announced Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition, people gasped at its $650 price tag. But American consumers have been paying much more than unlocked prices with two-year contracts: upwards of $2,000 to own one smartphone for two years. So, Jump and Next are absolutely an improvement over that ludicrous regime. But, in the long run, it’s cheaper for most people to upgrade to unlocked phones whenever they want, sell their old phones, and kill contracts themselves.
I love that Apple started, and has continued to sell unlocked iPhones, starting with the 3GS back in the day. Google has also been doing this since the beginning of the Nexus program and now with the Google Play Edition phones. I hope other manufacturers start doing this as well in North America instead of consumers having to import these devices at a high premium from back home, Europe or even eBay. If Europe’s model of reasonable contracts with the ability to bring your own phone to the service without being ripped off works there, why won’t it here. The answer is likely the excessive greed of these carriers.