Every time a new phone is released, manufacturers start to play games over supply and demand. Deals get struck over which option gets sold to a certain network or retailer. These are often called exclusives.
No phone company is exempt to this practise.
Apple – I am not aware in my lifetime of any Apple product launch where prior to launch supply is rumoured to be constrained. In the USA, sim free unlocked iPhones are not made available until months after its release. I hope the UK does not end up this way.
Xiaomi / OnePlus and similar – these companies use “a sale for a limited period technique”, often just a few hours to force you to buy while you can. OnePlus used an invite system to control supply and demand and in the process made many people angry.
Samsung UK – restricted supply of its S6 and S6 Edge. At launch, Samsung only sold the 32gb versions and then slowly released a few of the other styles. However, the green 128gb S6 Edge is still not available on the Samsung UK website, yet head over to Samsung Germany and its available. Samsung also restricted supply to third party online retailers including small and larger companies like Amazon and Clove Technology.
LG – The LG G4 is officially released on the 28th May 2015. It comes in all different finishes yet as it stands today in the UK, Carphone Warehouse has got the exclusive on the black leather G4 but will only sell it sim free. Other networks have exclusives on different finishes. In the USA, deals are being offered which include a 32gb micro SD card, a spare battery and battery charger.
Network Stores – Example – the Honor 6+ was a network exclusive at launch with Three UK. It was made available at launch on pay as you go for £299 plus a top up. Yet, as usual the stores tried initially to refuse to sell the phone this way, or force it on a contract. What should be a swift walk in walk out ends up being a drawn out affair with firm words being uttered to store staff. This situation is not exclusive to Three UK. If the phone is advertised on a networks website as available on pay as you go, then it should also be available in a store on the same basis.
I could go on.
Surely, phone manufacturers should make it as easy, quick and as friendly as possible for their ultimate customer, the consumer, to purchase the phone where, when and how they want. Instead, phone manufacturers sell direct to the networks or major distributors and treat those as the customer, meaning the real consumer can often get a poor buying experience or even worse be sold the wrong contract or not be able to purchase the phone in the finish/configuration of their dreams.
It’s time for change!