In the smartphone industry one of the most glaring omissions is that T-Mobile is not a carrier of the Apple iPhone in the US. It has been long-debated whether T-Mobile will one day join the other major US carriers, AT&T Verizon and Sprint in offering the iPhone and the latest news is that T-Mobile still covets the iPhone, but only if the price is right. For now it seems that T-Mobile will have to continue to rely on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3, the Galaxy Note 2 and Google Nexus 4 in a bid to stay in the game.
Many readers will know that AT&T originally had exclusivity of the iPhone and then in 2011 Verizon joined the fun with a CDMA version of the iPhone 4. Following that in late 2011 Sprint made a huge four-year $15.5 billion deal with Apple to also carry the iPhone and although the carrier hopes this will eventually pay off, it has already acknowledged that it’s device subsidy costs have been significantly driven up. It seems that T-Mobile is keen to avoid the same kind of deal, whilst at the same time acknowledging that is has been harmed by not carrying the iPhone. Back in October we reported on speculation that T-Mobile may begin offering the iPhone 5 in early 2013 but news today makes that seem less plausible.
At the Morgan Stanley 12th Annual Technology, Media and Telecoms Conference in Barcelona, T-Mobile USA COO Jim Alling said that although they would love to offer the iPhone, “we want the economies to be right for us,” according to FierceWireless. Although Alling did not directly mention Sprint he did refer to a competitor that recently signed a deal with Apple and would not see a profit from it until 2015, saying that T-Mobile USA would not be signing a similar deal. Acknowledging T-Mobile’s lack of the iPhone though, Alling also conceded, “we recognize that it has been a point of churn for us.”
Alling and other T-Mobile executives also acknowledged that the arrival of the LTE iPhone 5 in September had a negative impact on its business for the third quarter and was likely to also do some damage for the fourth quarter of 2012. However, it was also detailed that around 1.5 million unlocked iPhones now use the T-Mobile network and its SIM-only Value Plans and it’s anticipated that this number will rise with developments to fully utilize HSPA+ at 1900 MHz under its network modernization plans.
T-Mobile USA has made it clear then that although it’s still very keen to carry the iPhone it won’t make what it feels to be unnecessary sacrifices in order to do so. It will be interesting to see what happens next with this but it certainly feels like something that could drag on for some time yet. We’d like to know what readers think about this. Do you think T-Mobile should make almost any necessary investment to carry the iPhone? Maybe you think that the carrier is right to hold back for a deal at the right price? Let us have your comments on this.