T-Mobile USA will become the last of the “big four” US operators to launch Apple’s iPhone, following a deal which will see it offering the Apple device next year.
In a presentation, it said that it is “excited to announce it has entered into an agreement with Apple to bring products to market together next year”. Details will be provided “closer to device launch”.
T-Mobile has been at something of a disadvantage by being the only tier-one US operator not to offer the Apple device.
In a presentation, John Legere, president and CEO of the company, said that “a certain number of customers wouldn’t come to the store if we didn’t have the iPhone”.
While it is unclear if adding the device to the network will bring new customers to T-Mobile, what with it already being widely available from other operators, Legere did argue that the launch will have a “definite churn impact”.
In the absence of the iPhone, T-Mobile has managed to build a sizable smartphone business from devices using other platforms – it was something of an Android pioneer, alongside Verizon Wireless, which also did not have the iPhone for a long period of time.
In the third quarter of 2012, some 77 percent of contract devices sold by the operator were smartphones.
However, according to a Wireless Intelligence study earlier this year, around two-thirds of the smartphones sold in the US in the first quarter of 2012 were iPhones – meaning there was a significant market that T-Mobile was unable to serve.
Despite not being able to offer customers the iPhone directly, T-Mobile has more than 1.7 million iPhone users on its network. It has previously offered Apple-compatible SIMs to subscribers, despite not selling the devices itself.
Significantly, Legere also said that the company had negotiated commercial terms with Apple “that make sense for us”, noting: “This is not a volume commitment the size of what Sprint agreed to, or anything close to it.”
It was reported earlier this year that Sprint’s 4-year iPhone deal will cost it around US$15.5 billion, although it believes that it will benefit from the higher-value of iPhone users over the life of the contract.