"At last month's D: All Things Digital technology conference, which I co-produce for The Wall Street Journal, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said he was wary of producing an Apple cellphone because, instead of selling it directly to the public, he would have to offer it through what he called the 'four orifices' -- the four big U.S. cellphone carriers.
Cellphone carriers say one reason they keep tight control over what phones run on their networks is to protect the networks from harm and assure service quality for their subscribers.
But we've heard that before, and it wasn't true then. Until the 1970s, when the government forced open the market, the old AT&T phone monopoly refused to let consumers buy phones and plug them into their home phone lines. You could only rent phones, and they had to be models made by an AT&T subsidiary. AT&T said the restriction protected the quality of the wired phone network. But, lo and behold, when the ban was lifted the phone network was just fine, even though consumers were plugging in millions of less expensive, more innovative phones."
*Sigh*. Everyone wants a cell phone, but everyone hates their cell phone provider.