Or, you go and buy the phone from Apple for $899.00, and use Optus prepay for 4gb @ $70/month == (899 + (70 *24)) = 2579  (I noticed this expired after 28 days; so maybe add another month cumulative).
Of course, as Scott Adams says the only reason all these companies exist is the "confuseopoly" they create with various different plans that are the same but slightly different with no clear benefits. So maybe my maths is wrong, but good luck figuring it out in clear terms anyway. In Australia with all the "$20 for $275 value" bull-crap it's especially bad. At least in the US it's just plain "minutes" and M/B.
I think really it's the same with Android phones ... deliberate confuseopoly. I agree with the author; after getting a cheap, underpowered, bloatware, never updated Android piece-of-crap I have a simple rule -- Nexus or nothing.
I'm not saying single-purpose software (or the idea of a walled garden) is necessarily a problem, just that the inability to re-purpose is.
Don't get my wrong, for my PCs this isn't the case. I still like to be able to tinker, even if it means I can screw stuff up. But it's not that unreasonable to be offered a phone without full customization (or without it being easy), just like it is with microwaves, TVs, automobiles, etc.
Granted, this is a very subjective issue. Some people want little Linux PCs with root access in their pockets, and for good reason. I'm just not one of those people. End devil's advocate.
Different people are happy with different levels of control that largely depend on their level of expertise and resources. For example, to someone with a flash programmer, many devices are already very open. To someone with an SD card or a USB port, a bootloader is more empowering.
Again, while I can see the case for single-purpose software, there could be a hardware override. For example, important/necessary firmware for the primary use-case could ship on an SD card with a write-protect switch, but be replaceable. Most desktop owners never replace their own hard drive, but that feature comes in quite handy to the computer techs who are expected to, or if the included software eventually fails and needs to be reset.
Edit: I should also note that adding the possibility of control doesn't cost anything extra from the perspective of those who wouldn't use the higher levels of control. The same simple interface would only have a "more control" (aka settings) button, as usual, and as platforms converge the low-level support pretty much comes for free (for example, if phones used x86_64 instead of ARM, USB boot would be implied). The desktop is a pretty good model actually.
The issue is, if you provide a "more control" button there will be a lot more people who imagine themselves competent enough to use than actually are. And they're going to break their appliance. What do you think happens when they do something stupid and break their appliance? Simple; they blame the vendor being an incompetent piece of garbage.
This is the main reason that Windows, even today, has a reputation of being unstable while OSX has the opposite. I suspect OSX probably has a higher bug-per-loc but Apple tries to create a culture that doesn't "tweak" so they strip out most of the "user doing something stupid" crashes.
Personally, as long as I can do whatever I want on my desktop, I'm fine if I can't run a web server on my smart phone.
If I may only have one button in life, please, please, let it be reset (I think it already is).
I can't picture anyone working int tech who's ever had support trouble because of the existence of one, unless the end-user chooses to use it during a firmware update.
It's not just about gaining root and tinker, it's about using it as a smartphone. Then again if you use your phone like a feature phone (smartphone or not), it's probably fine for you.
Do you mind clarifying how you feel about Samsung phones in particular? They do have a semi-usable bootloader (cyanogenmod, clockwork mod, etc. work pretty well) but getting the graphics, touchscreen, accelerometer, sound, camera (pictures/video) and any other drivers to work in cyanogenmod can be just as much work after that first initial success (the bootloader).
Without good drivers, a bootloader is only half the solution, in my opinion.
I'm picking on Samsung because their phones are very, very common. But HTC is no better at publishing drivers. In fact, only the Google Nexus line has published drivers so that the software stack can be replaced to a degree.
Notably, Google and Apple are both in good positions to promote control-in-ownership, if not FOSS, but only Google has taken that stance.
Even without drivers, if hardware manufacturers were serious about delivering control with the hardware, they would prioritize providing as much of the same documentation they would have needed for internal development as possible, along with the device, to speed up community efforts to support hardware they may not be able to support themselves.
I can understand it if their hands are tied (they could say if so, for example), but I consider the the HTC and Samsung (and Archos) bootloaders half-hearted. They are selling Android devices, and the early Android community was very excited about the prospect of a Linux phone (like they are about an Ubuntu phone or a Firefox phone, and were about the Neo Freerunner). They are understandably disappointed and vocal (and persistent, hacking them every which way)... It feels like the bootloader efforts from most manufacturers is more an attempt to deal with the negative PR than to deliver meaningful control, but I'd love to be proven wrong.
Maybe others feel that way too. I don't know how much that would matter to the average phone user, but it might uniquely matter to the sort of people who are looking for an open boot process.
Isn't it better to vote with your wallet? If you don't buy it, they'll think "well that open strategy didn't work, so let's try the closed thing Apple and Samsung are doing, those sell like hotcakes"
"All configurations of Nexus S and Nexus S 4G can be used with Android 4.1.2. On those devices all the hardware is functional."
That's the only compatibility I've seen offered by on the vanilla Android.
Other countries (and T-mobile) have much more reasonable pricing models where BYO gives you the option to avoid the subsidy.
Also, tmobile is the least evil, large carrier IMO.
Bloomberg recently published a very informed article  on the subject where one company, "Micromax increased shipments to 633,000 smartphones in the last quarter of 2012 from 9,990 a year earlier, while [another], Karbonn grew to 304,000 from zero."
Because of the price disparity of phones from Apple/Reputable Android manufacturers, there is a very large untapped market for sub_$100 smartphones in China and India.
(Unless Google is selling it at a loss.)
Not sure about the loss, but I am sure they are not making much money from it.
Let's remember that the N4 is Google's flagship phone right now. I'd be astonished if they couldn't make a low- to mid-end phone for $100-$150 less.
Fortunately being a nerd has its benefits and I installed Cyanogen to avoid the horror, but I can't see how the non-geek user would be able to sidestep the bloat and bugs. The process for rooting and wiping the phone was extremely long. If in future there is the possibility that the engineers of such mods could create a one-click route there would be many more happy users.
The phone was more expensive to buy new when I took out the contract, and you can get it with no up-front payment on a £21/month contract now, so in both cases it's actually a better deal than presented above.
Android 4+ allows you to disable the bloatware, so that's not an issue either.
I just wish Google would be more forthcoming with their security releases for older platforms (notably 2.3) or had struck a better deal with device manufacturers so that they could directly provide 4.x for smartphones from the Nexus S era.
Also, you can disable built-in Android apps. Please! How do we raise awareness about this! It's been possible for sometime! Long press the app in the drawer -> drag it to App Info -> Disable. Or Settings -> Apps -> All Apps -> [App] -> Disable. [Or choose a notification, long press "App Information" -> Disable (I think this is a 4.2 addition)].
Lots of ways to get there.
I'm happy to have always purchased Nexus or something I knew was well supported by CM. As long as that continues to be true, I don't care what Verizon sells, I'm happy.