That's a contentious point, I'm sure they think they're adding value, but many people are beginning to question what exactly the operator does to make life better, here are some examples:
- Marek and his N80 and Vodafone experience
- Tom Hume adding some cogent thoughts
- Tommi chipping in
- Krisse extolling us to buy SIM-free phones
To add some further context, my experience with Orange and their modifications to my Nokia 6680's firmware certainly have me wondering who all this added value to suppose to benefit. It certainly doesn't appear to be me, and it is my phone after all, my property.
Quick summary of Orange's anti-benefits in their firmware changes: I'm stuck with their ugly and unmodifiable home screen, which disables Nokia's active standby screen, said home screen gives me easy access to a selection of apps that I rarely use, hogs memory (a big issue on the 6680) and crashes from time to time. Also because I've got Orange's firmware Nokia's firmware update won't allow me to upgrade my phone to the latest generic firmware, instead I'm stuck with something a little elderly and buggy.
What else do Orange provide? Oh, an email service, wow that's really useful, it's not like I've not got an email address already. I've always wanted to have a memorable email address like email@example.com
Oh, and here's another thought, my 6680 was cheap, because I signed a one year contract, so the real price was spread over 12 monthly payments. Now, if this was some sort of real hire purchase or credit deal, my monthly bill would drop after I'd paid back the
loan subsidy, you can guess what happens with Orange can't you...
Now perhaps I'm being unfair to Orange, and they do have some hefty payments to make to the UK government to pay for their 3G licenses (another stealth tax on the UK public?), and none of the UK operators offer any better services (dare I say cartel?). But, it's really not a great situation for the consumer, and when you see initiatives such as a Vodafone specific version of S60 I can hardly get too excited.
Are lock-in, restricted functionality, and price-gouging the best they can offer?