T-Mobile Exec: No iPhone 5 For Us
It could be a rough holiday quarter for T-Mobile if it's the only major U.S. network operator not offering the iPhone 5.
According to a leaked internal memo, T-Mobile USA CMO Cole Brodman said quite bluntly, "We are not going to get the iPhone 5 this year." The statement was made as part of a company communique to T-Mobile USA employees. What does this mean, if anything?
Assuming the statement (posted by TMoNews.com) is legitimate, it means T-Mobile USA will likely be the only major U.S. wireless network operator not offering the iPhone 5 when it is released later this year. It is expected to be sold by AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless. Though the exact availability is still unknown, this will put T-Mobile USA at a significant disadvantage heading into the holiday shopping quarter.
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Carriers typically roll out their best devices ahead of the holidays, hoping to snag new customers interested in the latest technology. Some of the smartphone industry's most-anticipated devices have launched in the fourth quarter of previous years, such as the original BlackBerry Storm, Motorola Droid, and others.
[The Justice Department and legislators are lining up to block AT&T's planned acquisition of T-Mobile. Read AT&T And T-Mobile: What's Next?.]
Brodman said later in the same memo that the carrier would have two compelling new smartphones, but without the iPhone 5, T-Mobile will be in a tough spot. He didn't offer details about these two devices, which are surely based on Google's Android platform.
Of course, this doesn't mean that T-Mobile USA won't be selling a different version of the iPhone, such as the iPhone 4S or iPhone 4 Plus. Reports have indicated for months at Apple will offer a lower-spec iPhone in additional to the new iPhone 5. It is possible that Apple will make a version of this lower spec phone for T-Mobile.
The iPhone 4 in its current state will work on T-Mobile USA's GSM/EDGE 2.5G network, but doesn't support T-Mobile's 3G spectrum. With most U.S. networks rolling out 4G in one flavor or another, falling back to EDGE would be brutal. (Keep in mind, when T-Mobile is mad at its customers for hogging too much data bandwidth, it slows them down to 2.5G EDGE speeds.)
Will Apple make a special version of the iPhone 4S/4 Plus just for T-Mobile USA's 3G network? Your guess is as good as anyone else's. Even if it does, there's no guarantee Apple will choose to support T-Mobile's 3G network.
Brodman's statement could also mean that there's a 60- or 90-day exclusive with one or the other carriers and that T-Mobile will have to wait until 2012 to sell the iPhone 5. That could be a more plausible scenario.
Last, it is possible that T-Mobile will never get its own version of the Apple iPhone. That will be a significant problem for T-Mobile to overcome both in the short term and the long term, depending on factors such as when the iPhone 5 goes on sale and also whether or not the sale to AT&T is approved by U.S. regulators (which would give T-Mobile the iPhone by default).
Without any variant of the iPhone, T-Mobile will only continue to bleed customers to its larger rivals.
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