The Founding Fathers — if one may use that somewhat sexist phrase in this enlightened, post-Enlightenment age — crafted ten amendments to the Constitution that together form our treasured Bill of Rights. It is clear, however, that the Founders never saw the need for a new perceived entitlement that is now firmly entrenched in the hearts and minds of our citizenry. This, then, is the new Right… call it 10A: The Right To Choose.
We used to sit down every night in front of the TV and choose one of three networks. Now we have hundreds, almost all of them superfluous. An improvement? Maybe. Last night I fell asleep in front of The Mold Network. Who knew watching lichen form on a log could be so interesting? One thing’s for sure, though. I was very excited to have the chance to choose it. Made me feel, you know… important.
Better still, I time-shifted the program with my new DVR. That meant not only that I could choose the program I wanted, but I could choose to watch it when I wanted to. Boy, that felt good, viewing that lichen forming on the log a full hour later than when it was originally scheduled. I like being able to choose the time as well, not just the content. I consider it my right, you know. As a consumer and an American.
I choose the music I play on my Ipod. I choose the videos I like on YouTube. I choose from six kinds of apples I buy in one of six supermarkets in my general neighborhood. I exercise my rights under Amendment 10A every chance I get. This makes me feel empowered. This makes me feel good as an American.
Up until now, however, I could choose my cellular network but I could not have complete freedom of choice about the cellphone I utilized to hop into it. Now all that has changed, and I can feel my heart beginning to burst into song. Or maybe it’s the second helping of bacon I had at breakfast. No! It’s song, definitely.
I’ll tell you the reason why. News comes in USA TODAY this morning that Verizon (VZ), the #2 cellphone network provider in the U.S., has decided to open the floodgates of history and allow people complete freedom of choice about the phones they may use as Verizon subscribers. Hurrah for you, Verizon. You have made the world our oyster, and removed one giant disincentive to be a part of the Verizon cosmos. If a phone doesn’t work on the Verizon network, it’s probably because that phone was designed to be exclusive to some other.
Which brings us to the fabulous, fantastic, must-have gizmo of the new century — Apple’s iPhone (AAPL), which only functions within the alternative universe of AT&T. I have nothing against that network. I’m sure it’s a fine one, festooned with pretty green trees and blue skies. I just don’t belong to it. And so I can never have an iPhone. And this makes me sad. More than that! I makes me mad. As an American.
A company I love is denying me of my right under Amendment 10A of our Constitution to choose something. Come on, Apple! Let freedom ring! With the ringtone of my choice, that is!