Following Tuesday’s report that U.S. mobile carrier T-Mobile already has nearly 2 million iPhones on its network and is adding hundreds of thousands more per month, a new report today from Reuters indicates that the carrier should officially begin offering the iPhone within the next "three to four months." That same time period also happens to coincide with the carrier’s plans to replace device subsidies with payment plans and lower monthly costs for customers.
T-Mobile’s plans for adding the iPhone, first announced in December, and its strategy for subsidy elimination were revealed to Reuters by John Legere, the carrier’s CEO.
Legere declined to disclose details about the company's agreement with Apple, except to say that T-Mobile USA's timing for selling the smartphone would be sooner rather than later, along with its subsidy elimination plan.
'They're all, I would call them, in three to four months as opposed to six to nine months,' Legere told Reuters in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Once the rollout is complete, T-Mobile will be the last major U.S. carrier to offer Apple’s iDevices, although millions of customers with unlocked iPhones already use its network. Due to the delay in officially offering the iPhone, the struggling carrier hopes to attract customers away from rivals AT&T and Verizon by offering unique options, such as contract-free and lower-cost plans, greater device flexibility, and novel partnerships with companies like Dish Network.
In the wake of T-Mobile’s decision to end subsidies, which can be costly to carriers, AT&T and Verizon are both considering a similar move, and will watch T-Mobile closely in the coming months to judge the effectiveness of its new strategy.
A shift by mobile carriers on the issue of subsidies may greatly alter the way that Apple markets and prices the iPhone. An advertised price of $199 with a carrier subsidy and two-year contract requirement may be more psychologically appealing to consumers than the current unsubsidized price of $649, even if long-term economics often make the contract-free unsubsidized phone a better value.