What Should T-Mobile Do?

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Seeming as you have found your way here, to TmoNews (selfless promotion), you probably care a little about what we have to say.  While David has presented his opinions in articles before, this here is my turn to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys in this case).  If you are willing to give me a listen (read) (and then express your own (rebuttal) opinions in the comments) then head past the break to read the first (of many, if all goes well) series of The Ramblings of Andrew.

T-Mobile is at a crossroads and it seems like they are following the path blind (to us, at least).  What some of us have failed to realize, though, is that T-Mobile is one of the major four carriers in the United States.  It is because of this that they have credence over what they decide to do in today’s mobile market.  They have a plan, and it may lead us to cell phone Nirvana in the future.  With a dedication to LTE and HSPA+ speeds in the foreseeable future (seriously, right around the bend), T-Mobile USA is shaping up to be a mainstream competitor.  Sure, T-Mobile was late to the 3G game and they don’t have the blanket coverage that some carriers offer, but when 3G is available (and I am lucky enough to be in one of those places) it just works, and it works well.  If you really think about it, things can only get better and we don’t have to worry about some of the network woes that other carriers have a knack of dumping on their customers (plus, we have mms messaging).  T-Mobile’s network coverage is, at the current state, a work in progress, but it is spreading fast and will be jumping up in speeds soon.  So, keep your eyes open and look out for that 3G icon on your phone, it is bound to happen one of these days.

While network coverage is only one of our concerns, phone selection is undoubtedly the most important aspect of T-Mobile.  Let’s start with the famous Windows Mobile beast, the Touch Pro 2.  T-Mobile was the first US carrier to make this business phone available, and all went well, especially when Sprint came in and offered the same phone (add in a 3.5 mm head phone jack) for the same 350 dollars that we were complaining about.  That is just good business practice, if you ask me.  However, Verizon came in, like the big shots they make themselves out to be, and offer up the same phone, with the 3.5 mm headphone jack as well, for 200 dollars.  Hold on here, that is $150 less than any other company, but think about how much more you pay in the long run.  What is interesting though is that Sprint, who is clearly trying to make a move in the mobile market (more on this later), is offering their TP2 for the same $200 price tag as Verizon, as long as you are a business customer.  Now, poor customer service and network issues aside, Sprint can give T-Mobile a run for its money when it comes to voice and data plans.  This really puts a strain on the pricing of T-Mobile’s, and later AT&T’s, Touch Pro 2.  If economics has anything to say about it, and I sure hope it does, then both GSM carriers will be offering up the TP2 for $200, just to match the market price.  If you ask me, though, keeping the TP2 at $350 isn’t some horrible crime, especially after you recover from the sticker shock and realize what you will be saving in the long run.

Now, let’s be honest, T-Mobile hasn’t invested nearly as much in Windows Mobile (to the dismay of some) as they have Android.  Being the first to offer up an Android phone really put T-Mobile on the map and they seem to want to stay there.  With the G1, MyTouch 3G and Cliq (available by early November), T-Mobile will have the most Android phones in its lineup.  Do these phones, though, have the ability to compete with the upcoming Android offerings of Sprint and Verizon?  T-Mobile, for the first time, will be competing for Android attention and I think they have a viable shot at succeeding for this year, and even more in the future.  While Sprint’s Hero has been creating a lot of buzz in the mobile world, it essentially has the exact same specs as the MyTouch.  Along the same lines, while the Sense UI is something special (at least in my mind), isn’t Blur shaping up to be just as nice? (and let’s not forget what rooting can accomplish).  In this way, T-Mobile has Sprint beat, especially with more Android phone options.  Next up to the Android party is Verizon, with the mysterious Motorola Sholes, which just isn’t your standard sliding qwerty.  This phone is capable of some serious competition, with a 3.7 inch capacitive touch screen, slide out qwerty and higher rated specs, all in a 14 mm thin package.  While this beast of an Android phone will be sliding in to Verizon, you can bet that the voice and data plans will cost you an arm and a leg, plus Verizon stands the chance of cannibalizing Android sales by releasing the Storm 2, HTC Imagio and Samsung Omnia II all within a month of each other.  All in all, T-Mobile has a great standing with Android for the rest of the year.

This leads us to the future, what should T-Mobile do?  In my opinion, T-Mobile should continue what they have going for them.  They should continue to roll out and update 3G, all while working on LTE.  While beefing up their network they have active plans to bring a plethora of Android phones to the market, from all sorts of manufacturers, with styles to match anyone and at all different price points.  This development of Android will bolster T-Mobile’s connection with Google, and Android, and seemingly make it the Android carrier.  Android isn’t all that needs to be focused on, however.  T-Mobile’s Blackberry selection keeps growing, and the 3G 9700 will just build on the already long standing relationship with RIM.  Also, while I am not a huge fan of Windows Mobile, I believe that T-Mobile should expand on their WM choices, just to bolster their business offerings.  Let us not forget, though, that not everyone is up for smart phones, and their accompanying data plans, so T-Mobile should continue to pride itself on a low cost carrier and offer a number of feature rich, low-end phones.  With this, I think T-Mobile will be poised to make some big leaps in the mobile market.

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  • Bob

    “2). You don’t want a contract”

    Well, I think that the way cell contracts are handled is uncool. I paid extra for my phones to only have a one year contract, but after that expired I wound up in a TWO year contract just because I changed my rate plan. That is a little ridiculous to me. The contracts/ETFs are meant to recoup hardware subsidies, but I never had any of those, so why should I be in a contract because I went UP in my minutes? So if I need to cancel for any reason, BAM, $175 x 3. :(

  • Bob

    Oh, and I see my previous comment was deleted Hmm… anyway, T-Mobile *does* court immigrants. The FlexPay plans are very popular with them, and T-Mobile has Spanish posters up in stores, bilingual reps, etc. (Why was this comment deleted anyway? It’s an honest to god fact!)

  • http://T-mobile Eroi

    Although I did not see your last comment Bob you sure sound like a racist idiot. At one point or another everyone in this country including yourself was an immigrant. Wait.. I forgot you guys stole land from the Indians. Anyways to get to my point I am a tmo rep who originated from a foreign country and I do speak other languages. 7 to be exact and I probably not only speak english as well if not better then you “BOB”. Not trying to be cocky but I am trying to show you how smart you sound speaking that way.

    Bob when you change your contract it usually extends it for one year. If you chose a promotional plan your contract was extended for two years because it was a limited offer. That was your choice in doing that. All the carriers now not just TMO do the same. The contract wars no one will ever win it’s politics. No point in getting mad at TMo for an ETF. When you selected your plan before you even activated you were probably told that there would be one. No one put a gun to your face and told you to sign.

    T-mobile does not court anyone. In fact T-mobile is smart enough to actually go towards people who spend a lot of money on what they offer. Never judge a book by it’s cover. We get people from all walks of life daily in our stores. The “rich” barely spend a dime and when they do they want everything for free. The “immigrants” or poor as you say actually buy more things to stay in touch with their loved ones and actually 90% of them pay their bills. They also are the ones that treat us as their family. I have received countless letters stating that they come to TMO to see me because I treat them as a person and not just a number. True that there are jerks in all nationalities and no one race is perfect. I’m just stating from what I see in my daily dealings with people.

    I’m sorry but for a company to offer a discount towards a handset is a pretty good offer. You have electricity in your home, gas, etc.. You have had those companies for many years and do they provide you anything free? No. They are providing a service and you are getting what you agreed to pay for. People need to start thinking of cell phone companies the same way.

    I do understand that there are many others out there that do provide the same service but like with anything we have choices. Some choices work well for some and some for others. TMO does provide it at a cheaper cost and great service. I do not say that just because I work for them. I have worked for all the other competitors for many years and have seen some great things from them as well. The only problem is the bigger they get the more they start to reach their downfall. Example Nextel. Great company in it’s past and they got greedy and look at them now.

    I cant tell the future but I’m sticking with TMO for now. They are doing their best as far as trying to achieve more sales and provide a great product. Like anything in life things and mistakes will happen. Look at Take control, Smart access, etc.. Just give TMO time I’m sure in the next 3 years it will be a powerhouse in the new age we are facing.

  • Tony

    Wow great intelligent comment

  • http://T-mobile Eroi

    Thanks! It’s just we hear things like this on a daily basis. You would get tired of it as well if it happens to you. I think I have a response for every customer comment or rant. Been dealing with retail for about 12-15 years now.

    I’m starting to realize why some people go postal. :)