Reviewer David Pogue knows technology but often botches business ethics. Writing about T-Mobile’s decision to liberalize its cellular contact, he asserts that “the two-year contract” to which T-Mobile is offering an alternative “is an anti-competitive, anti-innovation greed machine.” He gets his dander up:
The Great Cellphone Subsidy Con is indefensible no matter how you slice it — why should you keep paying the carrier for the price of a phone you’ve fully repaid? . . . Those practices should stomp right across your outrage threshold.
Maybe outrage is called for . . . by Pogue’s demand for outrage. It’s outrageous.
Companies need not compete on every level, to every aspect of a service, in order to offer customers a real alternative. And no particular voluntary market arrangement is inherently “anticompetitive,” for it cannot in itself prevent anybody from offering costumers something different. (Only government force, a major factor not discussed by Pogue, can block competitors from competing in particular ways.) Nothing about multi-year cell contracts prevented Tracfone and others from offering prepaid plans. Or prevented T-Mobile from offering its new plan.
Or a different alternate.
Pogue’s accusations of greedy “anti-competitiveness” can be and are made with equal injustice against any successful business. But there is no set amount of revenue greater than a company’s costs beyond which profits suddenly change colors, from moral to immoral.
And nothing is wrong with pursuit of profit per se, just as there is nothing wrong with pursuing an expected benefit by purchasing products and services, popular or un-.
People expect gains when they trade. If they see no benefit, they can just say no.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.