Google intended to blow up the carrier market (in the U.S. first) by moving phone distribution online, flattening it in the process. The idea was that you’d go to a website and pick the phone you wanted, then pick the carrier you wanted, pay, and you’d be done. […] Or, you could buy whatever phone you wanted unlocked. Eventually, pay-as-you-go SIM cards would pop up in the U.S. as a result.
Apple has done this. (Mostly.1)
I upgraded to an iPhone 4S over the holidays, and switched from AT&T to Verizon. I did the whole thing from within the Apple Store iOS app. It took about 15 minutes. I bought the phone, signed up for Verizon, and even transferred my existing number from AT&T, without ever needing to talk to a carrier. The first time I heard from Verizon was when I got a pro-rated receipt in the mail after activating my new phone.
It was the best phone purchasing experience I have ever had, by far. It was a prime example of why I like Apple products. Google has been farting around and creating generally inconsistent and mediocre experiences. Apple has been pushing forward and quietly building this wonderful customer experience – one that Google wanted, but failed to create. For all the arguments over open and closed, Apple is the company that consistently gives me the impression that they care about what the customer feels.
You can buy it unlocked and use it with a pay-as-you go plan from T-Mobile, but they still don’t have T-Mobile sign up integrated into the checkout process.↩