T-Mobile feels the effects of not having the iPhone

// February 23, 2012

Customers have been leaving T-Mobile USA for the last few years but now that all of the other major carriers have the iPhone, customers are leaving in droves.

The company reported today a net loss of 802,000 subscribers on contract-based plans in the forth quarter of 2011. That’s an unprecedented number for an industry that has experienced rapid growth for more than a decade. During the same quarter AT&T, Sprint and Verizon all posted a healthy increase in contract-based subscribers.

T-Mobile CEO Phillip Humm explains where the subscriber loss is coming from when he says,

“not carrying the iPhone led to a significant increase in contract deactivations in the fourth quarter of 2011.”

The iPhone was mentioned 7 times in the companies press release reporting their Q4 results. Here is how the first sentence reads;

Strong adjusted OIBDA and prepaid performance; contract business negatively impacted in the fourth quarter of 2011 by iPhone 4S launches by three nationwide competitors.

Activations for iPhones in the U.S. reached a record 13.7 million over last three months of 2011. It’s now clear where many of those new customers were coming from and why they were leaving.

T-Mobile efforts to offer the iPhone on their network was likely stalled due to the proposed sale of the company to AT&T, which blocked by U.S. regulators. However, it does not appear the struggling company will officially carry the iPhone in the U.S. anytime soon. The biggest hurdle may be financial reason rather than technical.

The iPhone is the best selling phone for all of the companies in the U.S. that offer it but it comes with a double edge sword. It is also one of the most expensive phones, companies must pay a high subsidy for each phone.

When asked about carrying the iPhone on T-Mobile, Humm stated there is nothing new to report but that T-Mobile would like to sell the iPhone under the right terms.


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