Sprint & T-Mobile’s Fate

A quick visit to both Sprint and T-Mobile’s websites will show you two companies that are hocking cheap Android phones — no exclusive brands that are set to entice anybody born in the last 40 years. The last big “win” for T-Mobile was getting the first “Google” phone, the G1, way back when. The last win for Sprint was the EVO — and that was only because it was hilariously large, with a power hungry 4G antenna in it.

Fast forward to right now and both companies provoke a contagious *YAWN* effect on me. Before they could team up with Verizon and berate AT&T for crappy coverage and push Android phones on to unsuspecting consumers, but now they are relegated to being two smaller carriers with no iPhone.

Not a comfortable position to be in.

Sprint has a ton of corporate customers that stem back to the days when they had the best mobile coverage in D.C. and when they merged with Nextel (you know the original push to talk guys). T-Mobile has a bunch of fans of Catherine Zeta-Jones and magenta lovers. 1

I think T-Mobile will be fine in the long run, they have a small but loyal following and a network that is already compatible with the iPhone. It would be simple for Apple to get the iPhone on T-Mobile and my guess would be that the next version of the iPhone will be available on T-Mobile — it just makes sense at this point. 2

Sprint’s story is a different one though. They are making a hard push for 4G devices and they run on a CDMA network. While the Verizon version of the iPhone should be able to work on Sprint, it isn’t as simple of an argument for Sprint to get the iPhone. For one Sprint seems like a stodgy antiquated company 3 and I am not sure that they see an immediate need to get the iPhone. Perhaps they wait until a 4G one comes out, perhaps not. While I am not saying that there won’t be a Sprint iPhone, I am saying that it doesn’t seem to match the feature set the company has been pushing for quite a while now. Sprint likes to tout 4G speed (they own part of Clear that provides a lot of that speed) and they like to tout rugged construction type phones and lastly at the opposite end they like to show smart business savvy phones. What they don’t ever show is fun — and fun is what the iPhone is all about.

Carrying the iPhone would go against what both companies seem to be marketing right now: faster phones on faster networks. They aren’t marketing reliability or snazzy phones, but they are dinging AT&T and Verizon on network speeds. All of the major U.S. carriers are trying to roll out their version of “4G” networks as fast as they can, but it is T-Mobile that has now really gone on the offensive against AT&T about network speed.

How can T-Mobile go back on this now if they were to offer the iPhone that only does 3G speeds? Their 3G network is, in use, slower than AT&T’s. It seems funny that a industry that used to be everyone versus AT&T and the iPhone has now become one that is the little guys versus AT&T and Verizon.

The way I see it Sprint and T-Mobile have two options:

  1. Continue this silly fight the way it is right now, where you attack the slower competitors networks, to only fold eventually when Apple grants you access to the iPhone. Then hope that the iPhone keeps your customer base intact for the next five years.
  2. Accept that customers don’t care about anything you have to offer and figure out what to give them that they actually care about. I would start with pricing and customer service. From there I would call Microsoft and start to get some sweet Windows Phone 7 exclusives on my network. Then I would call HP and get some hot ass WebOS devices too. The iPhone only wins if everyone decides it’s not worth fighting against.

Choose option 2 — please.

  1. Not really, please don’t email me about this.
  2. Not to mention that once people started unlocking their iPhones they began using them on T-Mobile and, surprisingly, T-Mobile has always embraced this practice.
  3. Their CEO walks around in B&W on the commercials for crying out loud.
Originally posted for members on: February 23, 2011
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