iPhone finally arrives on T-Mobile USA: Better late than never?

iPhone finally arrives on T-Mobile USA: Better late than never?

Summary: But is it too late for T-Mobile? Has Apple seen its iPhone peak, or will the fourth largest US cellular firm be able to claw back its falling subscriber base?

SHARE:

NEW YORK — T-Mobile users, rejoice. The iPhone is heading your way, at long last. And only for $99 with no contract.

tmob-iphone
T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert with the iPhone 5 at an event in New York City. (Credit: CNET)

Today, the company announced it would officially start carrying — and selling — the iPhone, as it forms part of its next-generation 4G LTE network launched today. But despite T-Mobile's flipping of the LTE switch today, the LTE-enabled iPhone 5 will not be immediately available. 

The iPhone 5 will arrive in T-Mobile stores on April 12. There is a $20 a month on customers' cell phone bill for 24 months, along with the $99 upfront cost of the device.

The iPhone's arrival to T-Mobile may be late, considering Verizon and AT&T's support for the Apple phone since it first arrived on the market in mid-2007. Half a decade later, the fourth largest network in the US is taking on the shiny rectangle as part of the firm's bid to redefine itself as different among the rest.

Above all else, it's hoped that — while 1.9 million T-Mobile customers are already iPhone users — the cellular network can claw back at least some of its defecting customer base, particularly in the postpaid contract space.

Almost half-a-million contract customers left the network during the third quarter, the firm said in November, which hit the network's average revenue per user (ARPU) by 7 percent on the same quarter a year ago.

This, for T-Mobile, was bad news. The upshot was that T-Mobile accounted for 365,000 prepaid customers during the quarter, up 44 percent on the same quarter a year ago, signaling a shift in priorities for the end-user. By comparison, its prepaid ARPU rose by more than 12 percent. This ultimately led to a game-changing strategy for the firm which led to it killing its long-term contracts for its customers.

But 33 million customers is still a far cry away from Verizon's 115 million customers and AT&T's 107 million customers, but only a stone's throw away from Sprint's 55 million customers. Throw in the MetroPCS acquisition and the merger, alongside its newfound iPhone love and contract-killing strategy, could see the combined T-Mobile—MetroPCS company (which will fall simply under the T-Mobile brand) as a hot contender for the third-place position in the US cellular market.

The iPhone alone generates enough buzz to keep Apple in some serious profitability, and T-Mobile is finally set to grab a slice of it — particularly since the shiny rectangle will be offered at an unsubsidized price.

Amid a bevy of popular devices and high-end smartphones, the iPhone remained the missing piece in its portfolio offering. Now it finally has pride of place on T-Mobile's mantelpiece, will enough new customers bite? 

Considering it's already reasonably strong established iPhone customer base, albeit 'unofficially,' exactly how T-Mobile draws in new iPhone customers will be the one to watch.

Topics: 4G, Apple, iPhone, Networking, Smartphones

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

13 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • the talk about apple hitting its peak

    is because GROWTH has slowed down, not sales. the iPhone is still at its height sales wise, meaning it's still a good business move to get it. and since Tmobile has held out so long I'm assuming they got a better deal than sprint did.
    theoilman
    • Did You Major in Applewellian Doublethink in College?

      Sorry, but you can't have Growth without Sales and you can't get sales without it growing your market share. They are tied together and can't only be considered in greater and lesser degrees. Apple always wants us to believe they are doing fabulously well. They do this by spreading FUD against the competition and glorifying themselves the Hitler did in Nazi Germany.

      For instance in China right now, they are claiming that's where their fastest growth is. Tim Cook has been personally attempting to persuade the Chinese that they should want to be like America and only buy their ONE Size Fits All devices, so they can again be like Chairman Mao and his Mao Suit wearing followers. Notice not once does Apple Mention that their highest growth rate in the World pales in comparison to it's competitors in China! .......and what do you think their competitors offer? CHOICE for better personal FREEDOM!

      SAMSUNG outsold every phone manufacturer on the Planet in China as well as the World. This year will be no exception. Proved by the fact that they had over 12 phone models leading the way in sales. Including GS3, GS2 and Galaxy Notes. So with just one choice and Apple's not being willing to give up higher profits for higher sales and faster growth, they are ultimately going to lose to not only SAMSUNG..... but many Chinese and other foreign phone manufacturers like HTC, and Nokia as well.

      Make no bones about it.... Apple can possibly claim the last quarter in the US and World as iPhones selling in high numbers. But the reality is they had help from Stat Counters and brain washed media blogs and writers helping spread their Applewellian Doublethink Propaganda. Who conviently forgot that Apple was still selling (actually Carrier Subsidised Freebies) more iPhone 4's than their new iPhone 5 and 4s models. Because they wanted YOU to believe they still had the highest selling single model phone in their iPhone 5! .....but in reality they had parts shortages, manufacturing problems and don't forget the Maps Fiasco, that hampered iPhone 5 Sales. Not to mention the word on the street was iPhone 4 was cannibalizing iPhone 5 sales, with it's better quality construction!

      So lets just say Apple is a company that isn't exactly what they appear to be. No debt isn't exactly a good thing, if you all you have for hard assets are leases, where you end up having no equity and the major portion of your so Called Cash is mired low yielding foreign banking and long term securities with Deferred Taxes, Penalties and Fees if you actually ever need to use it. It's all in Reserves, no different than if they were required in paying off debt anyway!

      T-mobile is now shedding light on the whole Subsidised Phone Scam Model, that Apple's business has been built on. The Competition and their customers are being put on Public Notice that we really don't live in iOZ after all!!! .....and this will be the only way they'll ever get iPhones on China Mobile as well. The largest Carrier in the World for a reason. That's because they offer the lowest rates and the largest selection of phones to go with it. In a market where Pay As You Go is the Rule rather than the exception! ;-P
      KronJohn
  • "The iPhone's arrival to T-Mobile may be late,

    considering Verizon and AT&T's support for the Apple phone since it first arrived on the market in mid-2007."

    Wrong!!

    Verizon didn't get the iPhone until 2011.
    MustangGTX
    • Verizon iPhone?

      You are correct in that it was an AT&T exclusive until then. Though some folks did use theirs on T-Mobile. So I guess T-Mobile actually had it 2nd?
      trybble1
  • What kind of reporting is this???

    Young people need to check their facts and learn a few basics like 2007 to 2013 is more than "Almost half a decade later..." You do know that half of a decade is 5 years don't you?
    It's better to not report anything than to report erroneous data.
    kltpzyxm
  • I say good luck

    to T-mobile. If one of the four big carriers disappears, it will be bad for all of us.
    LarsDennert
    • Too true

      If ANY of the four big carriers disappears, it will be bad for all of us!

      Not to mention the small players, who keep them on their feet.
      rahbm
  • With the IPhone now vie TMoble and their new no contract plans

    T-Mobile and customers stand to benefit from this move due to cell coverage area technologies rolling out this year from companies like Alcatel-Lucent. Solavei will help bring love to T-Mobile both in the US and Europe. Don't miss out on the amazing perks due to the social sharing revolution set to grow more and more popular as well that relies on the individual for letting others know about these benefits. Juan mobilepro dot sharesolavei dot com
    Juan
    http://mobilepro.sharesolavei.com
    pc9323@...
  • Absolutely!

    More choice (for T-Mobile customers) and more competition (for other carriers) can only be a good thing.
    rahbm
  • "exclusively no-contract" ??

    HOW can t-Mobile go to exclusively no-contract and still do the " There is a $20 a month on customers' cell phone bill for 24 months, along with the $99 upfront cost of the device." Sounds like a contract to me. I am needing to replace my iPhone 5 ( UNLOCKED, as i am a Ukrainian customer working in the USA just now). I let my daughter take mine with her back to college, so I need the replacement ASAP. The thing is,, if i can get a phone from T-Mobile April 12, I could wait that long to pay only the $480 + $99, mentioned, as compared to the $920 it costs to buy the unlocked variety (required for use in my home country of Ukraine), at the Apple store. I am currently a t-Mobile customer, and KEPT my "Nano-nano" ;-)- sim card, and thence tele number. But i won't sign a contract, not with AT&T, not with TMob. Contracts are quite uncommon in Ukraine and/or Russian Federation. DOES anyone know the REAL truth of how t-Mobile will be selling these, contract or not????????
    LyonsAire CEO
    • "No contract" refers to cellular service, not paying for your phone.

      When you sign up with T-Mobile, you can pay for your phone either up front, or in monthly installments. The "monthly installments" are a contract of sorts, but not the kind other carriers use that require you to get their cellular service for a two year period or pay a penalty. With T-Mobile, you are only obligated to pay for your phone, not for two years of service.

      Why does this matter?
      Because service is way more expensive than a phone. That's why AT&T will give you an iPhone if you sign up for 2-years of service. The phone costs $650 (unsubsidized), 2 years of service is around $2000.
      psichel
  • Beware of using your BYOD iPhone 4/4S TMO!

    While this is decent news, T-Mobile will not officially fully support the 4 and 4S on their existing and upcoming LTE networks. Only the 5 implementation will be optimized.

    Current users experience *frequent* dropped calls, no bars, fleeting bars, delayed texts, etc. This is a documented issue.
    Lucky2BHere
    • My brother

      uses Verizon, and has everything you said.
      branman23@...