You know, it's a funny thing -- it seems that while the Big Four compete against one another for wireless sales in the U.S., they sure don't offer a lot of differentiation. Each carrier charges roughly the same thing each money, offers roughly the same portfolio of phones, and after one carrier went all-in with shared data contracts
, it looks as if the dominos are falling there as well. Now, there's word that Verizon
Wireless may follow T-Mobile's "no contract" lead.
Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam recently stated that he'd be open to the thought of getting rid of contracts, but here's the thing: while T-Mobile doesn't do contracts, they still have a grip on customers. T-Mobile's scheme has you on the hook for monthly payments on whatever phone you select up-front, so even though there's no contract per se, you'll still owe T-Mobile a wad of money for that phone should you duck out early. Really, it's six in one hand and a half-dozen in the other. To T-Mobile's credit, this scheme is marketing well, and people tend to be falling for it -- or, at least paying attention to a carrier that has largely been left behind
So, while Verizon may go the same route, be careful before assuming that it's a pro-consumer move. Moving payments and fees around isn't the same as actually reducing the cost of phones and mobile services.