If cell phones were cars

We'd all walk a lot

Vehicles would be free, but gas would cost $100 a gallon.

You wouldn't need a license, or know how to drive, but the car would only run on roads built by a specific carrier.

Every time you came to an intersection that crossed roads owned by another carrier, you'd have to pay an extra fee to cross, even if you didn't drive on them.

All the roads would have only one lane in each direction.

You could drive only as fast as the car directly in front of you; it would never pull over to get out of the way.

You could only drive a certain distance every month; if you exceed your limit you'd be stopped every mile to pay a toll equal to your monthly road fee.

If the road is marked 3G or 4G you could go as fast as you want, until someone from the company stepped out to stop the car and make you walk the rest of the way home.

Even though you can only drive on one carrier's roads, all the carriers would compete to see whose design for tires should become the new standard on all the roads; none of the new wheels would work on existing roads.

Every three years you'd have to buy a completely new car from a salesman who tells you your old one is fine "if all you want to do is, you know, drive."

If you bought from Apple

Your vehicle would be an iBrid; it would be energy efficient, more attractive than anyone you've ever dated, and would make you feel popular when you're alone.

It would be so beautiful you'd want to show it to all your friends. They would have to come to your house to see it because the iBrid could only drive 100 yards before stopping and making you start the trip over from the beginning.

The uber-cool of your car would be offset by the unter-cool of the maker of the roads.

Gas, tires and the special clothing you need to ride in it would all cost extra because less attractive accessories won't fit the specially shaped gaps you use to put them in the car.

You could decorate it any way you want, but you'd have to get every bumper sticker, coffee cup and window sticker personally approved by Steve Jobs before paying an expert to stick it on.

Your iBrid would have more entertainment options than your house, but would only play audio and video you buy from Apple for twice the cost of less attractive music.

You still wouldn't like The Fratellis.

If you bought from Verizon

The roads would be wider than anyone else's, but you still wouldn't be allowed to go as fast.

Your carrier would have the power to force manufacturers to sell the best phones to it first, but would remove all the best features before selling it, and turn the rest off.

Even if it were broken you'd buy the car because of the width of the roads and enormous rebate at purchase; every month Verizon would come to your house and take a few dollars until it recovered the cost of the rebate, after which it would take slightly more money every night.

There would be no rule against decorating your car, but none of the decorations would stick; if any do, the car wouldn't run.

You could drive any way you want on the roads, but your car would come with an enforcer from the company who would throw you out the window if you violated any secret rules.

You would have to have all your passengers and cargo approved by Verizon before driving and pay extra for any it didn't like.

If you were stopped by any law enforcement officers, your enforcer would beat them up just to prove he had the right to do it. Then he'd give you the ticket and fine you himself.


You'd remember all the great commercials explaining why other cars are terrible, but wouldn't remember any reasons to use T-Mobile.

Actress/model Carly Foulkes and her beautiful dress would be in all the commercials, so you wouldn't care.

Your carrier would spend so much time making its cars not look good like Verizon's and not drive well, like Apple's that it would never have time to build any roads.

Once in a while your carrier would try something revolutionary with its cars or roads – like five-wheel cars, or roads with no pavement, to set itself apart.

Five-wheel cars wouldn't work, so your carrier would make a commercial with Carly Foulkes in a much tighter outfit; and a motorcycle.


You'd have your choice of all the second-coolest cars because Verizon already ruined the coolest ones.

You would make sure all the cool features would work on your roads, but none of them would work anyway. Not working is what made those cars second coolest.

You wouldn't be able to drive as fast as people on other roads, but your speedometer would count miles that are much shorter than normal ones, so it would say you were going faster.

Your carrier would have greeters standing outside your house every morning to wave as you drive away, standing along the highway to wave as you drive by, and open the door for you at your destination to ask how your trip went. If you ever notified them of a problem, they'd just smile and tell you to have a nice day. Nothing would change.

Every day you'd have trouble finding your car and the roads because your carrier has so few distinguishing characteristics that you can only remember the companies it isn't, not which one it is.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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