updated 01:05 pm EDT, Thu November 4, 2010
DT chief says lack of iPhone hurting T-Mobile USA
Deutsche Telekom's CEO Rene Obermann directly blamed the absence of the iPhone for the poor performance of T-Mobile USA. The carrier gained just 137,000 new subscribers in the summer, pushed mostly by prepaid users and not smartphones, leading Obermann to suggest that the absence of Apple was a factor. Network quality was important but didn't matter if the right devices weren't present, he said.
"Consumers like T-Mobile but they also want to have the iPhone," Obermann said during a call discussing the carrier's international results.
Although most rumors have pointed to a Verizon iPhone arriving early in 2011, T-Mobile has been occasionally identified as getting a model of its own as well. The closest to a confirmation came when Videotron mentioned plans to get its own version. Both Videotron and T-Mobile USA support the same 3G frequencies.
T-Mobile was the first carrier in the world to get Android and still gets high-profile devices like the G2 and myTouch 4G, but it has either grown slowly or taken losses in the past three years since many of its customers were either jumping to AT&T for the iPhone or, later, to Verizon for competing Android models. Roughly 24 percent of iPhone buyers this summer were new to AT&T, a significant portion of which were likely former T-Mobile users.
Apple is thought eager to expand beyond AT&T both to keep its iPhone growth steady but also to head off Android and BlackBerry sales. The decision to get an exclusive with AT&T helped with collaboration features such as Visual Voicemail but has since cost Apple ground with Google. As Android quickly became the most popular smartphone platform on Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, it let Google get the most marketing attention and high-profile releases. The deal likewise oversaturated AT&T's 3G network in certain cities and led some to deliberately avoid the iPhone solely for the choice of network.