T-Mobile will get the iPhone way too late
T-Mobile has, for years, looked on in jealous as AT&T got the iPhone. Then Verizon. Then Sprint. Then Cricket. Yes, even prepaid carriers have gotten the iPhone before T-Mobile. But no longer! 2013 is totally T-Mobile’s year! Too bad it’s about three years too late! And it’ll probably kill the company too!
Essentially, T-Mobile sees the iPhone as a way to staunch its customer bleeding. They lost half a million customers last quarter, which is not a spot you want to be in when you’re fourth in a market consisting of four big competitors. They believe being able to offer the iPhone, which is still incredibly popular, will at the very least stabilize their customer base.
The main issue has actually been technical: iPhones simply don’t work on T-Mobile’s network. Deutsche Telekom, the owners, have pledged a billion dollars to upgrade the network, which was sorely needed anyway.
But I’m skeptical that T-Mobile will get anything other than pain from the iPhone. For example, Verizon got the iPhone and rapidly discovered that subsidizing it combined with other technical problems meant that they actually lost money. Sprint? Same issues. The theory is that over time, customer loyalty and overage charges will make up the losses…but so far, that hasn’t been happening, as anybody who ever bothered to look at cell phone usage statistics could tell you.
T-Mobile cannot dodge this bullet. And it’s an open question whether it can take this bullet in the first place. Deutsche Telekom was trying to sell it, and having it take a massive loss probably won’t do it any favors. We’ll see in 2013, but if T-Mobile does get the iPhone, you might want to consider lining up a new provider.
T-Mobile to Get iPhone Next Year [Bloomberg]