After my Nokia Lumia 920 had an unfortunate meeting with a concrete garage floor, I opted to quickly purchase a lower-spec Lumia 520 rather than shell out full retail price for another 920. I quickly discovered that the 520 was about 85-90% of the phone that the 920 was (for my use case at least), but cost literally 20% as much. It’s pretty shocking.
Carriers are not only shifting away from the subsidy model in order to compete and cut costs, they are also reaching the point where absorbing the cost of a new phone isn’t bringing the benefit it once did. As of 2013, 65% of US customers own smartphones, and it’s unlikely that the relatively expensive plans offered by those who subsidize top-tier phones will attract any more. Financing ends up being a good option if it means you can lower advertised prices (remember, the average consumer isn’t very smart), and the bling of the latest phone is attracting fewer and fewer customers as the base model phones become more and more competitive.
Personally, I kind of want to see this sea change destroy Apple’s business model. I am strongly of the opinion that injecting brand consciousness into electronics does nothing but create stupider customers.