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He's Got a Point... It's Time to Speed Up Cell Phone Approval Process!

Sun Mar 29, 2009 - 3:49 PM EDT - By Annie Latham


Jamie Lendino, the editor of Smart Device Central and a contributor at PCMag.com posted an opinion piece ("The Stale Cell Phone Problem"), that calls for business process change in the wireless industry.

"The wireless industry needs to speed up the approval process for new phones. Otherwise, many solid devices will never stand a chance. By the time they're available for sale, it's already too late."

He points out that the four major wireless carriers "are notorious for taking their sweet time in approving handsets for use on their networks—and for taking more credit than they deserve in making the devices work."

And he tells it like it is:

"More and more, the idea of a carrier performing quality control will be exposed for what it is: an excuse to disable features that don't make money for the carrier, swap perfectly fine vendor-supplied mobile apps for inferior branded versions, and restrict consumer choice in a misguided attempt to simplify technical support."

It's a Gotcha!

You know that the wireless carriers are doing it because they can. They've got customers locked into contracts that make it cost prohibitive to swap out phones. Even Verizon's "New Every Two" program seems dated.

No matter how "mad as hell" customers get and the equipment guys (Palm, Apple, Research in Motion, HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung, and others) get, the wireless carriers rule. There's really no incentive to change things and update the process.

Borrow from the Airlines

If change can't be driven from the outside, perhaps it will take a brave wireless carrier to step up and do it for competitive reasons. For example, wouldn't it be cool if Dan Hesse at Sprint showed up in a commercial touting how the company has the best equipment available due to an initiative (perhaps "Say No to Stale") that accelerates the approval process? And wouldn't it be even cooler if he stated that Sprint is the first carrier to let customers change their equipment as often as they'd like without penalty? This isn't too far-fetched. If you look at the airlines, it basically takes just one to drop fares on a route and the others fall in line quite quickly.

It could work if a company like Sprint could figure out how to price equipment and services competitively under such a business model. Come to think of it, this would be a great problem to turn over to the business schools to solve. In fact, make it a competition. Wireless customers deserve better than what they are getting.

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