T-Mobile CMO Says Device Subsidies Need To Go, Not Likely To Happen

Speaking at the GeekWire Summit, T-Mobile CMO Cole Brodman says carrier subsidies are hurting the industry.

“It actually distorts what devices actually cost and it causes OEMs, carriers — everybody to compete on different playing fields, and I think it is really difficult, especially from a consumer perspective, because it causes consumers to devalue completely the hardware they are using…. It is amazing hardware, but it has become kind of throw away. So, it is unfortunate, you’ve got dual-core, multiprocessor devices with amazing HD screens that get thrown away at 18 months.”

Brodman expressed his desire while on stage to be “king for a day” and get rid of subsidies in the industry forever. However, Swype CEO Mike McSherry took the opportunity to remind Brodman he is a “king of the industry” and could kill device subsidies if he wished. Brodman responded by reminding the audience that T-Mobile is just one of four national carriers and if the other three “don’t want to play along,” it’s a tough move for T-Mobile to make on their own.

“It’s hard when the other three don’t want to play along. It becomes difficult because consumers vote with their pocketbooks, and they will almost always pick a low device price oftentimes over a low rate plan price or a bundled rate plan price. We’ve experimented with that model more than anyone in the country.”

As the conversation continued, GeekWire head Todd Bishop asked Brodman if they could continue to compete without the iPhone in their line-up, to which Brodman responded with a now familiar story:

“Yes we can. We have fantastic alternate choices,” said Brodman, citing its lineup of Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry phones. ”And I think those devices — whether it is through the app experiences, through the network experiences or through the devices themselves — do things that rival the iPhone — and in many cases — do them better than the iPhone. So, I absolutely think we can be successful. I don’t think it is healthy, frankly, for there to be kind of one OS industry dominance. And that’s why I think it is going to behoove us all to watch Windows and hopefully the application ecosystem will follow, and I think that will really help the overall industry balance.”

Check out the full video over at GeekWire.

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