updated 08:25 am EDT, Thu August 5, 2010
T-Mobile spring 2010 sees shift to smartphones
T-Mobile today reported results that showed a major swing towards smartphones. The company lost 93,000 customers as a whole but more than tripled the number of smartphones on its network in the past year from just 2.1 million last spring to 6.5 million a year later. Many of these were using Android phones like the myTouch 3G Slide, but the success of the HD2 and core devices like the BlackBerry Bold 9700 also played a part.
The results shrank T-Mobile down to 33.6 million total users but were still looked on favorably by parent company Deutsche Telekom chief Rene Obermann, who noted that it was the first time in over a year that the number of contract subscribers had increased. It added a total 106,000 of the more sustainable users where many of those leaving were prepaid.
T-Mobile remains the fourth-largest carrier in the US and has continued to struggle for a foothold where its larger rivals have in many cases been luring away its customers. While the first in the country to have Android phones, much of its advantage has been lost as Verizon has drawn much of the attention away with its Droid line; Sprint, which has seen long, slow declines, has also credited Android to success as the Evo 4G triggered its first gain of new customers in years. It may not have a significant halo device to lure customers in again until the myTouch 3G HD, which should be the first HSPA+ phone and possibly the first dual-core Android phone.
AT&T's exclusivity for the iPhone has also been a significant problem for T-Mobile, but this may change later this year if rumors of a T-Mobile USA iPhone in the fall are accurate. As the only other major GSM carrier in the US, T-Mobile could use Apple's handset without a significant change of form factor.