As 2009 Comes To A Close…


Update: I’m bringing this back to the front because as the news comes forward that T-Mobile is the launch partner for the Nexus One, where do you see T-Mobile going in 2010?

With the year ending in less than two weeks time, 2009 has been a rollercoaster for T-Mobile on any number of levels. To say that we all look forward to what will come in 2010 wouldn’t be enough of an understatement. The last few weeks have at least seen their share of exciting phone news and with that, a notion that T-Mobile may finally be ready to deliver handsets that deserve the hype they create. The Google Phone X10, HTC HD2 and the N900 showcase the idea that T-Mobile and their off-the-beaten path AWS bands are not to be ignored. Also, through smooth negotiating or a desire to not be a part of the AT&T disaster train, handset manufacturers see promise in the T-Mobile customer base.

At the beginning of the month, we took note of a piece by Sascha Segan of PCMag who discussed the N900 and how T-Mobile has started to progress towards a place where the carrier subsidy is less important. T-Mobile has an opportunity to truly appeal to the data heavy, phone “geeks” who love freedom of choice in their handset selection and aren’t married to any particular brand. Customers like these, however small in number they may be to the wireless market at large, are among the first adopters and highest spenders, and therefore are among the most valuable in the wireless market. Geeks are developers and developers build markets and work their own viral marketing in the form of blogging, forum discussion and water cooler talk–all of which bode well for the carrier that allows them the freedom they so richly desire. T-Mobile has an opportunity here with some very attractive handsets, ones some powerful marketing behind them, to attract customers who might have otherwise balked at going with the nation’s 4th largest carrier.

What about that “other” phone? Does 2010 give hope to the long rumored end of AT&T exclusivity of the iPhone? Does it matter to T-Mobile either way? I think the answers to those questions are argumentative at best, and truthfully, not something we are ready to answer ourselves. Regardless of your personal opinions of the iPhone, be it love or hate, it would attract customers without question. The cult of Apple will benefit any carrier(s) that step(s) in after AT&T has its day. T-Mobile has been rumored, along with Verizon, as a potential suitor for the next iPhone… though none of these “rumors” have ever been outright discussed by the carriers themselves.  Regardless, whatever 2010 brings for the future of the iPhone, the industry and the T-Mobile faithful will keep a close eye on where it lands.

Sticking with rumors for the moment, 2009 has also seen its share of T-Mobile buyout/merger discussion. Mostly dismissed as analyst created hype, there was at least one report of Deutsche Telekom shareholders who wanted to see a turnaround in US operations by mid 2010. While the accuracy of that report may be in question, if the third quarter numbers are any indication of the direction T-Mobile is heading, the parent company will almost assuredly consider drastic steps. Does that include a buyout/merger with Sprint, Clear, MetroPCS, or Cricket, all of whom have seen their names bounced around in respect to T-Mobile and the buyout/merger rumors?

One indication that T-Mobile is really looking to step up their game is the promise of HSPA+ sometime early next year. Having been previewed with glowing results, T-Mobile is looking to make up for a slow 3G rollout with speeds that rival a 4G network, and in some cases, best it. What originally looked like a Christmas launch in the top 30 cities is, as of this writing, yet to come to fruition. But even if there was a push back to early next year, surely the speeds of HSPA+ will be worth the wait. While HSPA 7.2 might be supported on certain handsets now, when HSPA+ capable handsets see the light of day, data usage for the T-Mobile faithful will increase, and with it, the hope that the “geeks will come.” Chalk up HSPA+ as the thing we here at TmoNews, or at I should say myself, look forward to; a rollout of a faster, 4G rivaling data service is definitely in our top anticipated events. Even if we don’t have the capability to take full advantage of the offering for some time, we all hope it’ll be worth the wait.

As I wind this down, I’m sure there are more than a few happenings that I failed to touch on here, and many that I might have seemingly ignored, but that wasn’t my intent. This isn’t meant to be a fanboy letter or an admonishment note to T-Mobile for 2009 failings. In fact, this is more to see what thoughts you (the readers) might have as to where you think T-Mobile is going based on where they have been. Think about what I’ve left out and see if it spurs any personal opinions on the future of T-Mobile. Perhaps our other staff members might chime in with their own thoughts and views of what 2010 might hold for T-Mobile, and see where they agree or disagree with me. More importantly though, where do you agree, disagree? What do you want T-Mobile to focus on? Focus less on? What say you?

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