We're getting new phones--Dr. Fledermaus should have an email-capable one for work (they'll pay) and so I'll be piggybacking on her acquisition, likely, with a family plan.
And so it's a good excuse to finally cave into my brother's recommendations and get a picture/email/web capable phone. (Photos he sent from the Mariners game last week, and the announcement of the CTA Bus Tracking web site, were the other two things that put me over the edge.)
So I've been doing a bunch of research, and come to the pleasant surprise that the reason the iPhone is selling so damn well is because it's cheaper than its competition.
For comparably-capable phones (no other has the music capacity of the iPhone, but all of these have qwerty keyboards) and plans (including email and web access, about the same number of minutes), here's the two-year cost of ownership (equipment purchase, activation fees, monthly charges including an estimated 25% taxes and fees).
8Gb iPhone: $2080
US Cellular HTC PPC6800: $2142
T-Mobile Wing: $2327
Verizon LG Voyager: $2480 (actually, it's probably higher; this doesn't include activation since we're currently VZW customers)
AT&T Tilt: $2558
The iPhone doesn't include insurance, but look at it this way: over two years, I could drop one in Lake Michigan and replace it at retail, and it still comes out to the same cost as the Voyager and the Tilt, which are the other two that come anywhere close to iPhone is slickness (yes, that's slightly different from coolness).
Now the only problem is that the web is vibrating with anticipation of a new iPhone release sometime in the next month or two. What's a consumer to do?