T-Mobile CEO John Legere downplayed the importance of Apple's iPhone in the company's outstanding second quarter results. He made sure to promise he would continue doing business with Apple, however, and hinted at an "array" of new products that were on the way.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere Announcing the iPhone 5
The 4th-place wireless carrier said on Wednesday that it added 678,000 new customers during the quarter—a reversal of previous trends—and that it sold 4.3 million new devices. Ina Fried reported for AllThingsD that roughly 900,000 of those devices were iPhones, and Mr. Legere characterized that 21 percent mix as "a healthy percentage."
Larger carriers like AT&T and Verizon usually report a mix closer to 50 percent of new devices sold being iPhones (AT&T stopped reporting specific numbers this past quarter). Reading between the lines, Mr. Legere's point is that he's just fine not becoming to beholden to Apple for new customers, and he preferred to give credit for T-Mobile's growth to the company's "Un-Carrier" strategy.
That strategy allows customers to finance their smartphones with no up-front down payment and to cease paying for it when it was paid for. Other carriers bake the subsidized price into their plans, which means customers keep paying long after that subsidy has been covered unless they get a new device with a new contract.
T-Mobile also stopped locking customers into two-year contracts, and for $10 a month, you can buy the right to upgrade your device up to twice a year.
In a separate report, Ina Fried noted that Mr. Legere said the iPhone was only part of T-Mobile's success. “Customers are responding extremely well to the moves we are making," Mr. Legere said during T-Mobile's quarterly conference call.
Even still, Mr. Legere made it clear to analysts that his company was on board the iPhone train, and he hinted that there were multiple Apple products his company could carry in the future, saying, "I think there’s a whole array of Apple products that we look forward to carrying. We will expand what we offer from them."
This is most likely in reference to the so-called low-cost iPhone Apple is rumored to be releasing this fall. Either way, he is specifically saying that Apple will be expanding its carrier-oriented product lineup. He's not the first wireless carrier CEO to hint at unannounced Apple products, though, to his credit, Mr. Legere's comments were entirely free of specifics.
Either way, Mr. Legere has played his company's results very well and very smart. His message is that T-Mobile isn't suddenly beholden to Apple for long-awaited growth, but at the same time, he'll be there standing with the other carriers when Apple expands its iPhone offerings.
That's how you have your corporate cake and eat it, too.
Cake courtesy of Shutterstock.