The cellphone market is mostly dominated by four major carriers: Verison Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. These four carriers support on average 4 or 5 mobile phone brands, from big ones like Apple and Samsung to charming off-brands like Blackberry and Kyocera. Lots of options, right? Not really compared to what you find in overseas markets. I just moved back to the US after many years abroad, and I was limited in the choices I had when I had to sign up for a phone plan, and I had to commit to 2 years. What if the phone doesn't suit my needs or those needs change over the next two years? Why is it locked so that I cant use it on other networks or in other countries? What I realized is that this is not a consumer-friendly business.
But there are over 100 mobile phone manufacturers! And some of these manufacturers may surprise you like Dell, Panasonic, and Huawei; none of which are sold by the big four carriers. So why not? Why not sell Dell's slick Venue or Panasonic's simple and practical T33? The 3rd largest cell phone manufacturer in the world Huawei makes great products. For example, I travel lots overseas, and products like Huawei's Mate 9 which comes unlocked and with dual sim card capability is perfect for my lifestyle. But you cant find it in Verizon store.
It seems that there is a tremendous opportunity here for network carriers to expand their breadth of products offered. Let's have a look at the possible benefits of cellular network carriers opening up their product lineups to the other phone manufacturers.
1. More Options for Consumers
The world is full of individuals all with different needs in a phone. So why not try to have a cellphone selection expansive enough to satisfy each of them? Having a wider variety of phones available could only benefit a carrier by enticing more customers with their particular tastes and preferences. As they say, variety is the spice of life. So spice it up, mobile carriers!
2. Competition Raises Quality
Right now there is a limited choice in cellphone manufacturers being sold in the US. Essentially, if there's competition, then there is constant innovation and improvement. These carriers can vastly improve the products they offer which lead to happier customers.
3. Mutual Benefits for Carriers, Manufacturers, and Customers
Everyone wins. No really, everyone. You, me, T-Mobile, Apple, everyone! Why not do something that's good for everyone? The carriers get better products, smaller manufacturers get exposure, bigger manufacturers get new markets that will push their products to improve, and the customer gets more choice and better pricing.
So there it is, a case for carriers opening up their product lines to more phone manufacturers. However, until the big four carriers do start selling Huawei's Mate 9 or other good brands, you should look online or at stores like Best Buy where you have more choices. There are ways, such as unlocking a cellphone (a simple and legal software adjustment), to get the phone you want AND have the service you want. And maybe if enough folks buy off-brand cellphones, the carriers will catch on, raise the bar, and hear our call for more choice.