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Democrats criticize AT&T's exclusive iPhone deal, just because they can

Even for economics-challenged congresscritters such as Ed Markey, this 
is a bizarre record in terms of both public grandstanding and 
interference with companies trying to sell products that consumers want 
to buy.

Apple makes the iPhone. It has every right to sell it via only AT&T if 
it wishes (and without a cooperating carrier, the device would not be 
nearly as useful because of things like visual voicemail). More broadly, 
Apple has the right to sell it as it wishes, including making iPhones 
only available for purchase on the third Monday of the month in 
even-numbered zip codes if it chooses.

Here's one message I received from a non-Markey fan:

        >As with the net neutrality debate, Rep. Markey seems to be 
placing the cart before the horse (or the tin can before the string). 
He/they want the so-called "innovation at the edges" first, decrying the 
working market as being contrary to the interests of consumers.  But the 
market does work.  And the iPhone is the latest example.  Yet in 
Markey's world, the iPhone may never have come to market (or arrive as 
cheaply as it is considering its value) if the exclusivity of contract 
couldn't have been created in the first place.
        >Do you think for one moment that other players aren't busy, 
concocting other ways in which to come in with better value below the 
iPhone?  Of course they are.  I don't believe the consumer would be as 
well served if Markey's view were to hold the day.  The Cartefone 
analogy, like his thinking, is outdated / wrongly monopoly-oriented.

Keep reading for the story.

-Declan

---

http://news.com.com/8301-10784_3-9742441-7.html

Democrats criticize AT&T's exclusive iPhone deal
July 11, 2007 9:28 AM PDT

WASHINGTON--AT&T's exclusive right to sell the Apple iPhone drew 
complaints on Wednesday from Democratic politicians, though it was 
unclear whether they were planning to do anything about it.

"The problem with the iPhone is that the iPhone with AT&T is kind of 
like a 'Hotel California' service," Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey 
said--in a nod to the Eagles hit, of course--during a hearing. "You can 
check out any time you like, but you can never leave."

Even though the hearing before the House of Representatives subcommittee 
on the Internet was supposed to be about "wireless innovation and 
consumer protection," the iPhone popped up among Democrats as a subject 
of criticism--and, among Republicans, as an example of the free market 
and consumer choice in action...

"I think it's time that a consumer become the decider of what their 
phones do, not their cell provider," said Rep. Mike Doyle, a 
Pennsylvania Democrat.

[...remainder snipped...]

Posted by Declan McCullagh on Jul 13, 2007 in category economics


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