Would you pay for subscription services to further drop a phone's price?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| Published: October 5, 2012

Carrier subsidies aren’t a new thing, and they aren’t going anywhere any time soon. While they aren’t the perfect solution to a common issue, most people, especially those looking to not pay for a phone outright, aren’t decrying the subsidy plan offered by carriers. Sign that new, two-year agreement to get the most off the phone right out of the gate. Good deal, right? Sure, you’re attached to a contract for two years, paying whatever your plan tells you to pay for that length of time, but on the day of your purchase you probably saved upwards of $400.

Still, even saving $400 right off the bat doesn’t bring a phone down to a cost that some people agree with. It was just last year that every single DROID 4G LTE phone under Verizon’s flag was being issued for $300 with a new, two-year contract. And AT&T’s been known to release phones for around $250, too, even with subsidies. There are other, cheaper options, but we all know that sometimes we just want that other phone, even if the price tag is just out of reach.

There are an innumerable amount of scenarios that could paint a picture that kept a person from a phone. There are just as many that could create a portrait why someone would need a phone immediately, and waiting just isn’t an option. We won’t dig into them right now, but we should at least admit that they exist. Ignoring them isn’t a possibility.

There are other options for saving potential customers money. Entities like Amazon Wireless exist, among many others, that all offer up phones for deep discounts. Usually, more often than not, these deep discounts are massive in comparison to what is being offered by the carrier itself. Phones that you can buy for $200 on a new, two-year contract directly from a carrier (or even from a third-party retailer), can sometimes be nabbed for as low as ten bucks. Even getting a phone for $100, versus whatever the carrier is offering, can make a phone previously unattainable for someone their next purchase after all.

Of course, the carriers don’t mind how you get the phone or service. As long as you sign that contract and pay your bill, they get what’s theirs and they keep on keepin’ on.

I have heard of people wanting to only get phones from “carrier stores,” and have never even considered looking at other options. I can understand where they are coming from. Things can go wrong, or sometimes you just want to play with a phone before you pull the trigger on a purchase that’s going to follow you around for two years. Whatever the reason, those discount retailers aren’t an option, so they’re left at the mercy of the carrier itself.

So, how could carriers offer up even more discounts for phones right out of the gate? Well, they could take a page from subscription services. The allure to save money up front is quite powerful, and if you can offer up a service that someone would actually use, for a cheap monthly fee, I wouldn’t be surprised to see people throwing money at their bill every month to save money to get that bill.

I pay a subscription music service to feed me my auditory fix every month, simply because the alternative is a lot of money spent on single albums.

Think about the possibilities for a second. Let’s say you buy a smartphone that is geared towards gaming, like the XPERIA Play. What if Verizon offered you a subscription gaming service (which they already do, courtesy of GameTanium) for that particular gaming device, and if you signed up for that service while buying that XPERIA Play, you got an additional . . . $50 off?

Buy a phone geared towards music, like an HTC device boasting Beats Technology? How about a music subscription service, that if you sign up for during the purchase of the device, there’s an additional $75 off the purchase price.

But let me be clear: in this purely hypothetical situation, the carriers would need to offer services that are worth the money, and are attractive to the customer.

So here’s what I want to know from you, Dear Reader. First, would you be willing to put money down every month for a worthy subscription service that fits your needs, if it struck off quite a big chunk of change from the initial purchase price of your phone? And second, which services do you think you’d be willing to pay for to get that extra discount? Let me know!

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