Carrier Concessions

Apple has this odd relationship with carriers. They make the best selling phone, but carriers do everything they can to steer customers away from it.

I’m a Bell Canada customer, and so I receive a lot of promotional material from them. And it almost always treats the iPhone as a second class citizen.

Their “2013 Holiday Wishbook”, for example, has four devices on the cover, none of which are an iPhone.  It’s not until page 8 before we see a full-page spread for the iPad Air and the new iPhones, but even there, something is off.  The previous pages show all the “superphones” (I hate that term) that you can get and how little they cost – $0 for many, $149 for the most expensive).  The Apple page says “To learn more about our Apple products, visit bell.ca/devices” and doesn’t mention price.  

Visit bell.ca/devices and you see a list of 19 phones in their “LTE Devices” category, but no iPhone.  You have to click on Apple to finally see the iPhone prices.

I don’t completely understand why carriers do this, but it must have something to do with profit. I assume they make more off a $0 Nexus 5 phone than they do off a $199 iPhone.

This has a lot to do with why Android is doing so well these days. Carriers spend a lot on advertising and they own the customer relationship. And they work hard to push users away from Apple.

Apple needs to fix this.

That’s not going to be easy, of course. All that crapware that the carriers load onto non-Apple phones is there because it makes the carrier money.  But maybe there’s a middle ground here.

Apple has been becoming more and more permissive with what they allow apps to do in the App Store.  If their odd special treatment of Clumsy Ninja is any indication, they’re endorsing free-with-IAP apps that bug the crap out of the user to do things like buy an spend coins in-game, or spam their Facebook and Twitter friends for in-game credit.  In my book, this is worse than carriers preloading software onto phones, because it’s not something that you can just ignore once.  It’s an ongoing problem.

How bad would it be to grant carriers a single folder on the phone that has their “stuff” in it.  Bell’s apps have been getting better in recent years, to the point where there are Bell apps on my phone that I use regularly.  Having that automatically installed for any customer who activates a phone on their network wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Would that tip the scales to the point where the carriers would feel like it’s worth their time to promote the iPhone?