T-Mobile sounded the death knell of contracts and phone subsidies on Tuesday at its Un-carrier event in NYC, but it is maintaining another unpopular practice in the mobile industry: locking phones. Customers who buy a device from T-Mobile through one of its financing plans (for instance, the iPhone 5 can be had for $100 up front and 24 monthly payments of $20) will still get locked devices. But T-Mobile CMO Mike Sievert said whenever a customer finishes paying off his or her financing plan, T-Mobile will unconditionally unlock the device. Earlier this month, I wrote that the phone locking was a symptom of the broken subsidy model used by carriers. T-Mobile is now fixing the subsidy system, but it’s not ending the practice of locking. What gives? Well, the answer is a bit nuanced. Instead of diving headlong into the murky depths of full-cost devices,T-Mobile is easing customers into the model with interest-free financing plans.
About Shelly Palmer
Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com.