The following is an exchange that, at first, appears to be an Apple-fanboy being egged on by a Google-fanboy. It starts out as most of these type of conversations do. However, once it gets going, it’s transitions to the perceived economic "gouging" of telecom echo systems. Even then, it doesn’t seem completely balanced. The reality is "things cost money" and markets vary around the globe for a large number of reasons and its nearly impossible to boil it down to a single factor.
Android-er: I got a beautiful Android phone that I use as a mini-tablet. 5" full-HD1080p resolution with Gorilla Glass, quad 1.5 GHz processors. So far I have not used it with SIMs aside from testing it. Unlocked; vendor-neutral hardware and software interfaces throughout.
$260 is as good or better than most phones on the market costing 2-3x, and it is totally unlocked. I’m not an Apple fan, so I cannot give an unbiased comparison, but I’d take this over an iPhone any day.
One downside for some: 3G only, not 4G+. But I am unwilling to pay outrageous monthly data plan costs, and I mostly need a data plan when I travel internationally, and local data plans are generally cheap compared to USA’s, especially roaming.
iPhone-er: I’ve come to realize that "Android vs iPhone" is a lot like "Chevy vs Ford" for truck owners.
Android-er: Except that neither Chevy nor Ford lock you into vendor-specific and high-priced parts and accessories.
iPhone-er: My iPhone integrates seamlessly with my truck. I’m sure your phone would too. No additional accessories needed. My open source media player supports AirPlay. My Sonos integrates freely with my iPhone. So, I’m not seeing the high priced vendor-specific accessories.
Android-er: Did that seamless integration involve a proprietary hardware connector? If so, you paid Apple for that, too. Do you have your choice of wireless plans? Apple gets a cut of that. Do you get to install apps from anywhere you want, or are they only the ones that Apple approves via their store? Can you load music and videos onto the device using anything besides iTunes?
iPhone-er: No costly connections required for my truck. The apps I use on my iPhone have a similar cost of Google play. I can get an iPhone from all the major carriers around the works. As a consumer, I don’t see (or pay) a difference.
iPhone-er: My point is that we both win. Consumers get a choice.
Android-er: And my point is that with Apple, you pay extra at every bend and turn, and do not get freedom of choice. Sounds like you’re happy with your decision despite price, so good on you!
iPhone-er: I don’t see the price difference you are implying. Vendor data plans are for the data and not specific to the device. So I’d pay the same for my plan on an iOS Device or android. The app prices are the same too.
Android-er: What did you pay for your iPhone? Did buying one involve being locked into a data plan that has a high fee for early termination to pay off the phone? What do you figure is the effective price for your phone given that?
iPhone-er: If I need a data plan, then I’m going to pay for a data plan. My point is the cost of the plan is the same, regardless of which phone. In the end, we both pay the same for the device and we would pay the same for the plan.
Android-er: So what did you pay for your phone? Is it locked to a plan?
Android-er: If you don’t want a data plan, what does the phone cost?
iPhone-er: I want (and use) a voice and data plan. And my devices hold there value so well that I sell each, two (or three) years later, for what I paid. It’s like being loaned the device for free. They are all unlocked – either on day-one or when I’m done with them.
Android-er: But you pay for it every month.
iPhone-er: It’s no different than my home internet, home phone, etc. I use all of these, to the maximum value. I buy the services I need.
Android-er: But one reason your services are so expensive is you are paying installments on your phone. And you don’t get that money back when you sell it.
iPhone-er: I think you are missing the point I was trying relay. If I want a particular voice and data plan, there is not one price for an iPhone and a different price for some other phone.
Android-er: I think there are data+voice plans that are less expensive if you bring your own device. Therefore, one that includes an iPhone means you are making a monthly payment by way of the difference in price. And getting an iPhone means using only a few carriers that support it, by agreement with Apple. Am I wrong?
iPhone-er: Lots of carriers support iPhone. I count 36 just for US+Canada.
If you want to BYOD you can bring whatever you want (as long as the carrier allows) – iPhones included.
As for a BYOD price vs not, it comes down to the cost of the service you buy. As a reference, I just looked at T-mobile’s BYOD price of $60 for talk, text, and 2.5GB vs ATT $50 for talk, text, and 2GB. And ATT is "subsidizing" the phone.
Android-er: Thanks for the data point. Personally, I think these are outrageously expensive plans, especially since they don’t even roam internationally – which is furiously more expensive. And I suppose you also have a home data plan, which costs more yet, even though one typically only uses one at a time. In total, that’s a lot of money for being connected.
I’d love to have a mobile connection, but not at these prices. I’m amazed that American consumers are willing to pay them. It’s nowhere near that expensive overseas, and overseas, you can get pay as you go.
iPhone-er: There are pay-as-you-go in the USA but they tend to only favor very small usage.
A quick check shows 2GB in Germany on O2 is $50. Singapore seems to be better at about $32. Hong Kong is $48. But these are data only so the total goes up when you add in voice.
Android-er: I can get 2GB for one month in Thailand for $18. That’s more than I need, and there are smaller plans too.
Android-er: Could you give me a pointer to pay-as-you-go data plans in US? I have searched and not found them.
iPhone-er: If I compare an engineer’s pay in Thailand vs USA then that $18 is a significantly higher percentage of income than the $50-$60 in the USA.
A quick Google search of "pay as you go" finds many USA options.
Android-er: The point is not engineer’s pay in two countries – it is that if they can be profitable at $18 in Thailand, then surely Americans are being gouged when they pay $50-60/month.
iPhone-er: My guess is they can be profitable at a given price point because their costs are lower and costs are likely lower in large part because incomes are lower.
I suspect most things cost a lot less in Thailand than in the USA.
iPhone-er: This has been interesting and has promoted me to do a bit of global economics research. Thanks for the discussion.