T-Mobile Says Carrying the iPhone Isn’t Worth the Financial Hit

T-Mobile COO Jim Alling would love to carry the iPhone—and T-Mobile can support iPhones—but he’s unwilling to make the financial sacrifices that his competitors have made to do it.

From earlier this week, FierceBroadbandWirless quoted Jim Alling at an industry event in Barcelona saying that while carrying the iPhone would be great, it’s just not worth the cost:

“Make no mistake about it: We would love to carry the iPhone. However, we want the economies to be right for us,” said Jim Alling, COO of T-Mobile USA. He made his comments during a wide-ranging discussion that featured executives from T-Mobile and MetroPCS during the Morgan Stanley 12th Annual Technology, Media & Telecoms Conference in Barcelona, Spain.
From: FierceBroadbandWireless

With the MetroPCS merger nearly done, how does this jive with folks there? Pretty well, I’d say according to comments made in August by MetroPCS COO Tom Keys:

“It would be harmful to MetroPCS to have to cut out part of our handset portfolio to accommodate one phone from one provider that the economics could be at risk.”
From: FierceBroadbandWireless

But the real question is the cost. How much would it really cost T-Mobile to make a deal with Apple to offer the iPhone line? Sounds like it’s costing Spring a bundle:

That was likely a veiled reference to Sprint Nextel which began carrying the iPhone in late 2011 under a four-year, $15.5 billion deal with Apple. The device has substantially driven up Sprint’s device subsidy cost, and the operator has said its iPhone business will not turn a profit until 2015. But Sprint is hoping that selling the iPhone will pay off in the long-term via reduced churn and higher data ARPUs.
From: FierceBroadbandWireless

I can see why T-Mobile isn’t keen on signing with Apple. T-Mobile says there are 1.5 million unlocked iPhones on it’s network, granted with just GSM coverage for most people, and T-Mobile would love to see more people jump to them (or pick them if they buy an unlocked phone). In Canada, carriers have to unlock phones if asked (the terms vary from being on contract to being x months into a contract) and AT&T is reportedly unlocking phones when the contract is up, which makes shopping around for a contract much, much easier.

I have to wonder if T-Mobile (and MetroPCS) might just be in the vanguard of carriers who don’t feel like selling their souls (or eating into profits) is worth the cost of the next must-have phone. I doubt Apple is worried, but if carriers stop fighting over the chance to carry iPhones, that should be.

HT: 9to5Mac

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  • tony

    While technically true, sounds more like sour grapes to me

  • AT&T Rapes Me

    The bottom-line is the iPhone sells and every carriers that has the iPhone sells a lot of them

    • Jesus mata

      15.5 billion in four years without profit, that’s a big hit espically if you are not the only exclusive carrier and Sprint was the third carrier to get it the phone. Why would people change carriers to have a sprint iPhone when reselling doesn’t give you money in return like the AT&T, and then paying for the iPhone, activation fee and a killer plan. Why? You probably get the real unlimited plan as a customer , but sprint is taking another hit by doing that. Stupid move by Sprint

  • phong

    Very smart move, I’m with T-mobile and almost anywhere I go I get 3g connection on my unlocked 4s; even at work where it’s most important since I tether to my ipad. I also have the truly unlimited data where I don’t get capped after a BS amount of data, which makes my life much easier. Furthermore, I pay 1/2 of what I used to pay when I was with AT&T.

    • Jesus

      Wait, you getting a 3G signal on an unlocked iPhone 4S? I just switch to a t-mobile blackberry for signal and the tether for my iPad. What city you live in? I’m in NYC.

      • PimpDaddyWiteBoy

        no he’s not

      • nwtrekker

        According to this link: http://www.airportal.de/# you should get 3G in NYC.

      • VV

        I’m in Bmore and I have 3g , a friend of mine is in Chicago and he gets 3g ,T-mobiles network is def. improving

  • http://twitter.com/unbeliever008 Jae. Just J.

    If T-Mobile would upgrade to HSPA+ everywhere faster, it’s a very smart move. They would get up to a few million iPhones in a heartbeat.

    • http://trishussey.com Tris Hussey

      That’s what the source article mentioned as well. I don’t think I’d jump ship for slower connections.