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How the iPhone Led To the Sale of T-Mobile 276

Posted by Soulskill
from the there's-probably-an-app-for-that dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Kevin O'Brien writes that Deutsche Telekom's announcement to sell its American wireless unit, T-Mobile USA, to AT&T for $39 billion ended a decade-long foray into the American market that was undermined, in part, by the advent of the iPhone (reg. may be required). Deutsche Telekom had been generating decent sales from its American operation, but after the iPhone went on sale, sold exclusively at first for AT&T in the United States, T-Mobile USA began to lose its most lucrative customers: those on fixed, monthly plans, who defected to its larger American rivals — AT&T and Verizon Wireless. 'The iPhone effect cannot be underestimated in this decision,' says analyst Theo Kitz. "Without being able to sell the iPhone, T-Mobile was in an unsustainable position and T-Mobile USA became a problem child." Ironically, AT&T's acquisition won't help T-Mobile customers get access to the iPhone anytime soon, as T-Mobile will remain independent, albeit under AT&T's stewardship, for around a year, and won't offer the iPhone to its customers during that period."
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How the iPhone Led To the Sale of T-Mobile

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @08:37AM (#35570898)

    According to the business sites, AT&T is going after T-Mobile for their spectrum - AT&T is hoping that T-Mobile's spectrum will help them with the connection and quality issues.

    It has nothing to do with the iPhone or the Android.

  • One word - Flexpay (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @08:52AM (#35571036)
    The main reason of T-Mobile's problems is one product - Flexpay. They went after the "subprime" market, and then they found out later that (Surprise!) they don't pay their bills. And the horrifically buggy implementation of this product has done nothing but hurt T-Mobile. It greatly affects time-to-market for almost all projects, which really hurts the business and causes them to lose postpaid customers.
  • by Voyager529 (1363959) <voyager529@yahMENCKENoo.com minus author> on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @09:04AM (#35571190)

    But it wasn't the whole puzzle. Sure, T-Mobile lost some customers to the iPhone over the years, but so did Verizon. The problem is that they were impacted more because they had a smaller number of customers to begin with.

    T-Mobile had a particular niche that they served better than anyone else - the deaf community. Rag on the Sidekick all you want, but not only did they work better for the deaf community through pervasive TTY services, they had a specific plan for it, too. They just killed that service, effectively making enemies of some of their most fiercely loyal customers. Similarly, T-Mobile was known for not putting pressure on the handset OEMs to provide Android updates; it's among the most common complaints of Samsung owners.

    T-Mobile tried competing with AT&T on the same merits that AT&T used to compete with Verizon. This was foundationally problematic, because they didn't stick to their strengths. "No data overage fees, ever" - that's all they had to say, and they would have had PLENTY of people who have had the pleasure of disputing $300-$800 of data overages. They could have implemented a spending cap to prevent outrageous bills, better advertised their international wi-fi calling, better advertised their bring-your-own-phone programs, and done something like "If you don't love us in 60 days, we'll refund every dime and help you go back to your old service, no questions asked". While I've heard a bad customer service story here and there for T-Mobile, my eight years of being a customer there have been an absolute pleasure. If they advertised that aspect of it, they might have been able to change some minds instead of trying to say "we can do what the iPhone does too"

    It probably wouldn't have hurt to make it known that all the handsets they featured in their commercials run Android, just like the Verizon handsets, because lots of people think Android==Droid==Verizon Exclusive.

    The fine article is correct in saying that T-Mobile couldn't compete with the iPhone at the hip-handset level. It fails to mention that there were plenty of other places where T-Mobile could have competed against AT&T and Verizon and won out, but didn't.

If money can't buy happiness, I guess you'll just have to rent it.

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