The Pros and the Cons
The pros of having only one contractor per country that sells the iPhone are, as Tim Cook said in his talk at Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, that it is simpler (for the customer) and simpler (for Apple) to offer inventions such as Visual Voicemail. I agree. Mostly. Partly. Potentially. Not at all.
Let’s say: It could be the case.
Having only one traffic provider with one option would be simple. In fact, there are 11 different contracts for the iPhone available at German T-Mobile:
Complete XS, Complete S (Mobile), Complete S (Fixed line), Complete M, Complete L, Complete 60, Complete 120, Complete 240, Complete 1200, Max Flat M, Max Flat L
This list does not include the (different) contracts that were available before the iPhone 3GS was released. As the iPhone 3G is still available, there are three different options (3G 8GB, 3GS 16GB, 3GS 32GB) per contract. So, not counting the two optional data plans for Max Flat M/L, there are 33 different contracts available for the iPhone in Germany. Oh, in case you want to use tethering: “Tethering is currently not supported and it is not part of the contract”. While not supported, there are two optional tethering-data-plans available.
If I was bad (I am!), I would say: 11 plans, two of them without data, with some data, or with data-flat, all of them with three different tethering plans. This sums up to 135 differently compiled iPhone contracts. Of course: If your iPhone is to be white …
Tim, this is the opposite of simple.
Oh, and about the Visual Voicemail: While there are many unlocked iPhones in Germany (imported from Italy, France, …), no other provider offers Visual Voicemail. I suspect this has to do with some legal issues, not with complexity. To benefit from the simplicity of Visual Voicemail in Germany, you have to go with Apple’s sole contractor. Well, unless you choose one of the 54 plans that do not include Visual Voicemail. Simple, isn’t it?