Hitching Mobile VoIP Fortunes to Android
Freeing the Mobile Phone
The US mobile market is probably one of the most complex in the world. Over here, purchasing a smartphone is not like buying a personal computer where you get the hardware from one vendor, the software from another, and the Internet connectivity from a third. This is because most people view a smartphone as an integrated device – not one made up of several building blocks. This simplistic architecture has actually worked to the benefit of mobile devices and has put them in the hands of customers who are not tech savvy. They don't need to worry about extraneous factors such as software updates, viruses, downloading and installing programs from third-party websites etc.
But this model has also been capitalized upon by the telecom carriers who would like to control the entire experience and lock customers into two-year contracts. When a person is paying a monthly fee for a set number of minutes, they naturally become blind to all other solutions since they have already paid for a traditional voice service. For VoIP to become mainstream, we need smartphones to be delinked from carriers and sold at full price unsubsidized. But we know from experience that the latest modern smartphones retail from anywhere upward of $500 when you buy them outright instead of through a contract.
This is quite a steep price for US customers who're not in the habit of paying so much up front. Which is why Google's moves in the industry to lower the price of these handset devices via its Nexus programs are so critically important. The Nexus 4 for example was a beautiful piece of hardware featuring top-of-the-line capabilities at a mere $299 unsubsidized. It turns the entire industry model on its head. We are now hearing rumors that Motorola which was earlier acquired by Google will be rolling out its Moto X phone at similar rates.
Disrupting the Smartphone Model
Is the era of cheap unsubsidized smartphones upon us? One would certainly hope so and what we really need is a major mobile manufacturers like Motorola to step up to the plate and show us how it's done. With Google's guidance, they could open up an entirely new market that customers will gravitate to.
Once people get into the habit of purchasing their phones outright, they are free to select their voice plans as they see fit. They might find that options such as VoIP calling suits their needs better. Enterprises in particular will find several business phone features offered by Internet calling to be far more flexible and useful than those offered by the PSTN phone system.
We'll know in a few days what the Moto X will be like – it's sure to be exciting!