Want a Droid on the cheap? Let's start a club!

Right now, you have to buy one and sign a two-year contract. Is a Gadget of the Month Club the answer? Or should phone companies be more like clothes stores?

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

If you walked into a store to buy a jacket and had to keep it for two years, you might wonder just how much you felt like paying. This is where companies such as H&M have shown a superior understanding of humanity by pricing well-designed clothes for a naturally short life.

Yet when you buy a new cell phone, even an allegedly well-designed cell phone like the iPhone-assaulting Droid, you have to commit to it for a couple of years, or at least to considerable penalties should you and it have a difficult relationship and decide on a divorce.

Blogging masterperson Jeff Jarvis believes that taking on a Droid would cost him $2,600. Which is why he was stricken with the idea of a Gadget of the Month Club.

In a blog post on his own Buzz Machine site, Jarvis laid out the idea.

He said: "It's worth it for the phone and device companies because they just might seduce me into buying. They'd get more press from the folks who matter - early adopters. They'd sell more gadgets and service plans. They could even use it to try out new gadgets (who wouldn't pay to be a beta tester for the coolest gadgets?)."

Jarvis would like Best Buy or some other enticingly sensitive entrepreneur to bankroll this interesting operation.

How much is it really worth? CC All About George/Flickr

"Obviously, it won't work if we all expect to get the Droid as soon as it's out without paying full freight," he said. "So charge more for that privilege. Every month, the one-month fee for a particular device goes down. I'm willing to pay a premium to try the Droid the first month or a Chrome-powered netbook. But I'll wait three or four months for to get my hands on a Nokia N900."

Jarvis even suggested that the premium to get your hands around a Droid could be bid up by the market and everyone would pay a membership fee to be a part of this exclusive club.

But why limit the trial of cell phones to freaks? What if every manufacturer offered its products, as does every clothes retailer, on a 30-day trial? Just as with clothes, people tend to take extra care of anything new they buy.

Some might damage their phones before they give them back, but those people should then be made to pay for them. Many might be just respectful enough to keep their new babies in fine condition.

Many more might be so happy with the phones that they would keep them. At least that ought to be the expectation with a phone that is supposed to be as revolutionary as the Droid.

The phones that failed in this constant trial would, presumably, be the phones that would fail anyway. So this 30-day idea would accelerate the natural selection that is at the heart of our happy way of life.

We would have more choice and the best products would prove themselves in the best arena--that of the instant mass market. And it would also open a new source of inventory and income for the sweet-natured second-hand cell phone salesman.

New cell phones seem to be coming to market with ever-increasing speed and an ever-increasing array of advances that prove to be temporary, so why should manufacturers force people to stick with them for two years or pay increasing penalties?

Why not allow consumers to select in the most natural way possible? Isn't that what one should do with all fashion accessories?