Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The iPhone must have an exclusive carrier

Aren't you angry that the particular mobile phone you prefer has an exclusive contract with a carrier? This limitation of carrier choice seems anti-competitive, if not frustrating. US anti-trust authorities seem to be getting interested in these arrangements and may intervene. It turns out that maybe they should not.

Robert Hahn and Hal Singer say exclusivity contracts are in fact the best thing that could happen for consumer welfare. Indeed, they spur competition through innovation, and the fact that the smart phone industry is innovative is hardly an understatement. Indeed, the exclusive contracts allow manufacturers to share the risk with the carrier, they make sure that both want the success of the new phone, and thus insure better reception and coverage. All this taken together induces manufacturers to take more risk and go for even faster and bolder innovations, which ultimately benefits the consumer.

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