“It’s intolerable that the [U.S.]… has trapped its citizens in a backward, stifling system when it comes to the next great technology platform, the cellphone,” Walt Mossberg writes for The Wall Street Journal.

“A shortsighted and often just plain stupid federal government has allowed itself to be bullied and fooled by a handful of big wireless phone operators for decades now,” Mossberg writes. “And the result has been a mobile phone system that… severely limits consumer choice, stifles innovation, crushes entrepreneurship, and has made the U.S. the laughingstock of the mobile-technology world, just as the cellphone is morphing into a powerful hand-held computer.”

“To my knowledge, only one phone maker, Apple Inc., has been permitted to introduce a cellphone with the cooperation of a U.S. carrier without that carrier having any say in the hardware and software design of the product. And that one example, the iPhone, was a special case, because Apple is currently the hottest digital brand on earth, with its own multibillion-dollar online and physical retail network,” Mossberg writes.

“Even so, Apple had to make a deal with the devil to gain the freedom to offer an unimpaired product directly to users. It gave AT&T exclusive rights to be the iPhone’s U.S. network for an undisclosed period of years. It has locked and relocked the phone to make sure consumers can’t override that restriction. This arrangement reportedly brings Apple regular fees from AT&T, but penalizes people who live in areas with poor AT&T coverage,” Mossberg writes.

Mossberg writes, “These restrictions have rubbed some of the luster off the best-designed hand-held computer ever made.”

Much more in the full article — highly recommended — here.