UPDATE: I actually ordered the i-mate SP5 again. Should be here tomorrow.
Am I going to be 'forced' to move to Verizon? Of all the phones I've owned and services I've used, the only major carrier I've never gone with is Verizon (for various reasons). However, that might have to change given that they seem to have both the Palm Treo 700w and the Motorola Q locked for the foreseeable future. Not sure if we'll see unlocked GSM versions of these phones until well after the Verizon launch-hype has worn off.
This puts me in a very contentious position. Perhaps I'll have to try and get the i-mate SP5 again(!) (obviously not from Expansys) or just wait for the Nokia E61, which I think might be a huge hit next year, assuming of course that Nokia doesn't follow their usual practice of pricing "high-end" phones completely out of the market.
Still reluctant to move to Verizon
My love for GSM really has nothing to do with the underlying technology. That used to be the case, but as this industry progresses we're starting to see that the big three (Sprint, Cingular, and Verizon) are converging toward similar ceilings. I think the biggest reason I've never gone with Verizon (or Sprint since about 2001) is because the [CDMA] phones they use are locked to the carrier, and so phones without the carrier's "seal of approval" simply will not work. What does that mean exactly? It means that the latest and greatest devices (read: those available anywhere but America) can't be used on these networks. If you flip mobile devices like I do, you not only want access to the newest gadgets, you also want to be able to sell them easily, which becomes a bit more difficult if your ad is limited to a specific carrier. When locked in with either Verizon or Sprint, you're at the mercy of the respective provider as to which phone you'll be using next — unless they decide to pick up the phone you want (and the manufacturer decides to let them have it), you're shit out of luck. This has never sat well with me and I'm not sure the Q or the 700w can change that. Couple this inability to control your device with the fact that Verizon's unlimited data plan for devices is $45/mo., where Cingular's is $20, and the possible switch quickly becomes a non-decision.
I actually purchased a RIM Blackberry 8700c after the whole SP5 fiasco, but returned it the same day after realizing that there was no way for me (err, Cingular wouldn't allow me) to use my all-I-can-eat data plan with the RIM device even though I didn't need/want any "push" functionality; I simply wanted web and POP/IMAP access, but this required a separate $50/mo. "BlackBerry" plan. Just one more way to get your money. I'm so sick of the providers here I can't see straight and could talk at unbelievable length about the inequities and ineptitude of the entire mobile phone industry, but I'll save everyone the bore (for now!).