Looking for New Tech in all the Wrong Places?

One of the things that caught my eye today was a line-up of sexy new devices debuting at 3GSM World Conference in Barcelona from Taiwan-based smartphone giant HTC.

While I was musing over the 12 ounce HTC Advantage mobile office, the Microsoft Windows Mobile 6-equipped HTC S710, and the HTC P3350 media-hub and PDA, I did what many people looking for a hot new mobile device do. I checked to see if my cell phone carrier offered the devices.

What’s wrong with this picture?

As our phones evolve into all-purpose communication-workstation-entertainment “appliances,” is it logical to buy the device from carriers? I think not.

These are companies whose entire technology approach is fundamentally different from the IP world. Their entrenched business model is to keep customers locked-in to their services.

I can hear you saying: just buy the device unlocked. But that’s a level of tech savvy that most consumers don’t have. And carriers are in no hurry to help them get it. Even in the VoIP world, many users have handsets that are locked into the service provider.

So here’s my suggestion for the innovative companies of the VoIP universe.

Let’s make it our goal to educate the mass market about unlocked devices. Let’s tell customers that they have that choice and make it easy for them to take it. Never forget, these consumers are essential for market success.

If we don’t, we’re just the phone company in an IP mask.