Unlocked iPhones and the expectant consumer

Ian Fogg has written an interesting piece looking at how the same unlocked iPhone performs when connected to different operator networks.

He has a wider angle; being that Apple’s position in the ecosystem could develop into something more threatening to operators should they look at progressing the idea of a secure embedded SIM. However, much of the piece (and certainly the reader responses) focuses on the notion that “As consumers pay the full unsubsidized price for these iPhones, buyers expect to have complete control over their devices. Network operators should have no say on how they’re used. But that’s not the whole truth.”

Really? As consumers are we really that expectant and naive to the value of core infrastructure.

regardless of the device status (locked or unlocked), the network to which it attaches remains the carrier’s property, it invests billions to maintain it and it has an obligation to manage traffic for the good of its entire subscriber base. It’s really no different to owning an ‘unlocked / unsubsidized’ PC and connecting it to the internet – I have free choice over my ISP, but it’s more than likely that my connection will be subject to traffic management policies enforced by the ISP. Again, this is to ensure parity of connection across multiple users accessing the same exchange during peak hours.

The type of functionality limited by the carrier more or less follows the same logic. It’s about controlling traffic and congestion; ie: APN access, tethering, hotspot creation – the sort of functionality that either a) hamper the experience or for the user b) hamper the experience for others on the same cell or c) breach fair use policies or price plan policies.

Of course, there’s a wider discussion about carrier investment in their network and the necessity to better manage traffic, but can we really blame carriers for wanting to manage how people access and use its assets?

Have we perhaps become a slightly expectant generation of mobile consumer that doesn’t see value in core infrastructure?