The first rule of “anytime upgrade” club is: you always talk about “anytime upgrade” clubAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
First and foremost, I would like to apologize for the terrible "Fight Club" pun title. I couldn't help myself.
T-Mobile and their new breakaway technique to become known as the "uncarrier" has become the hottest news topic as of late in the mobile news industry. Not too long ago we were speculating the fall of T-Mobile as AT&T had plans of swallowing the company whole, but now they're turning around and trying to change the way we see the mobile industry. The company hopes to make the traditional subsidy model that most carriers support a thing of the past, and they may be taking two steps forward again by allowing customers the option to upgrade more than once every two years - twice every year, in fact.
Yesterday, T-Mobile's CEO John Legere had some bold statements to make about just how carriers running the show are basically pulling us around for our money and stating that "Carriers are really nice to you... once every 23 months," and floating around other colorful terms that vividly describe how he feels other mobile carriers are treating their customers with subsidies and being locked into contracts. But aside from everything else T-Mobile is already changing, Legere revealed to CNet that another revolutionary plan is in the works called “anytime upgrade” club.
“Anytime upgrade” club is still just an idea, but Legere mentions that this club would allow members to upgrade twice a year if they paid a "very small" fee. As Alex explains in his news post, it's still in very early stages so when they say "very small" we're uncertain whether that means monthly or yearly fee, but the plan would include phone insurance.
If T-Mobile goes through with this, they’ll certainly be setting the bar at a whole new level for other carriers to follow more than they already are. No contracts, no subsidies, and possibly two upgrades per year? That's taking everything we know about carriers and phones and doing a complete 180. While one could argue that the only thing T-Mobile is lacking right now is proper service areas, over time that can easily be fixed (especially if the MetroPCS merger goes through). If the "uncarrier" plans didn't win people over, the "anytime upgrade" plans might - especially for people like me who think about switching phones every month or so.
I think T-Mobile would have been fine by just offering yearly upgrades, but I’m not one to argue with a good thing. Two upgrades a year would be awesome, especially given just how fast this industry changes. There have been many times where I've considered opening a second line with another company in order to get more than one upgrade a year, but if more companies at least had the option of giving us more than one upgrade a year then it would certainly help. Another part of that issue though was being locked into contracts and early termination fees, something else that T-Mobile has gotten rid of.
However, while upgrading more than once a year sounds good in theory, it's really going to depend on just how small of a "small fee" we're talking, and on what scale. Is it a small fee compared to what you'd be paying for three full-price phones, or is it a small fee compared to what it would cost you to pay an ETF to enable you to get another phone with another carrier, or what? At this point I can't say I'd be all over the plan because I don't know all the details, but I can say that I really like the idea and I think that if the details are worked over nicely enough then it can help play out in T-Mobile's favor immensely.
All in all, I'd have to say that I really like the fortitude that T-Mobile has been displaying recently and I really hope it works out for them in the end. The direction they're going kind of answers a lot of issues I have talked about regarding common practices with mobile carriers, and I would really like to see this "anytime upgrade" club come to fruition.
Readers, what do you think? Would you be interested in an "anytime upgrade" club? Do you think T-Mobile is heading in the right direction with all of these changes they're planning on making? Let me know what you think in the comments!