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Eric Raymond’s Advice to Mobile Carriers: Drop the iPhone

Eric Raymond, back on February 8:

OK, so there might be a second level to the argument: each carrier might be thinking that if it doesn’t carry the iPhone it will have its marketshare eaten by others that do. The trouble with this theory is that Android is still growing userbase and marketshare faster than the iPhone. And though T-Mobile (the one carrier without iPhone) ain’t doing so well, nobody in the industry thinks lack of iPhone — as opposed to, say, weak execution and lack of the capital mass to pursue its buildout — is its problem.

Actually, that’s what everyone in the industry thinks is killing T-Mobile, including T-Mobile’s CEO:

Without the iPhone, T-Mobile lost 706,000 contract customers in the fourth quarter of 2011. In fact, Apple’s iPhone was mentioned a total of seven times in a press release issued by T-Mobile, well more than any phone that the carrier actually does offer.

“Not carrying the iPhone led to a significant increase in contract deactivations in the fourth quarter of 2011,” T-Mobile USA President and CEO Phillipp Humm said.

Back to Raymond:

From any carrier’s point of view, the case for dumping iPhone, or at least threatening to do so in order to renegotiate Apple’s subsidy requirement away, seems pretty open and shut.

The problem the carriers face is not that they can’t turn a profit selling the iPhone. It’s that selling an iPhone is not as profitable for them as selling other cheaper phones (which cheaper phones still come with the same data and voice plans, and same two-year contracts, as the iPhone). But if they don’t carry the iPhone, customers who want the iPhone will leave for a carrier that does carry it. What the carriers want is a world where the iPhone doesn’t exist or isn’t so popular.

Monday, 27 February 2012