In an interesting twist from Verizon, a company that has traditionally focused on being closed and in control, they have introduced no contract service plans. The general gist of this is that you pay full price for your hardware and there is no contract obligation. This is very European of them!
This is the plan that ATT and Apple should have engaged in for the original iPhone, which was purchased without carrier subsidy. But like all non-jailbroken Gen 1 iPhones, I am tied to a 2 year ATT contract.
Sure, folks like Sprint and T-Mo have had some kind of no-contract plan in place for a while, but the tend to be special plans, or have a higher monthly price that contracted plans. Verizon has taken a huge step forward in creating a fairly frictionless marketplace. (In a true frictionless marketplace, consumers could use any phone on any network and change carriers atany time without penalty.) Verizon has really mitigated its risk here because the only place one can go with a Verizon CDMA phone is to Sprint, and frankly, I haven’t heard anyone clamoring to sign up with Sprint in ages. So Verizon is pretty safe.
This option does completely open the flood gates for Verizon’s Any Phone program that they announced earlier in the year. For a certain group of customers who wish to have a special device, once the handset is approved for use on the Verizon network, you could buy a phone directly from a retailer or manufacturer and jump on Verizon with no contractual risk.
That is pretty sweet!