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Oligopolypse Now
September 27, 2011 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Even after the Justice Department announced attempts to block AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile, many see a heightened chance of it going through if T-Mobile is weakened. AT&T, Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile have hired a bunch of former U.S. government officials to try to complete the deal, with Verizon's CEO cheering them on. Yesterday, T-Mobile's CMO Cole Broadman seems to have just blogged a major upcoming weakness - no iPhone 5. Sprint opposes the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, and is tying its fate to being the sole iPhone 5 carrier with unlimited data. Today Apple sent invites out for an event this coming Tuesday where the details of the next iPhone are set to be revealed.
posted by cashman (47 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
T-Mobile sucks, but having transferred to it recently, I think AT&T sucks even worse, if that's possible. I say a pox on all their houses.
posted by blucevalo at 10:14 AM on September 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


That T-Mobile post about not having the iPhone is rather cryptic.

I can’t tell if T-Mobile isn’t getting the iPhone because they don’t want to follow Apple’s rules, because Apple doesn’t want to give it to them (unlikely?), or what.

Talking about how great Android is while your customers are clamoring for iPhones just makes you come off as willfully ignorant of what they want.

I don’t see this ending well for T-Mobile regardless of how the merger attempt plays out.

Of course, T-Mobile might be on the road to destruction via liquidation if its backers think they’ll get more out of it that way (or if they’ve been completely bought by AT&T). If that’s the case, then this behavior regarding the iPhone makes perfect sense.
posted by spitefulcrow at 10:24 AM on September 27, 2011


Aha, this makes sense. T-Mobile wants the deal to go through, so they need to look like they're headed downhill fast. To weaken themselves, they make themselves the only major carrier without the iPhone by fucking up a straightforward deal with Apple.
posted by mullingitover at 10:29 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


As far as I know, TMobile has been unofficially supporting the iPhone for quite some time, but not at 4G speeds.
posted by davejay at 10:34 AM on September 27, 2011


Ah, I see it is in his letter: "Today, there are over a million T-Mobile customers using unlocked iPhones on our network. We are interested in offering all of our customers a no-compromise iPhone experience on our network." What I don't see is that post saying "We will not have iPhones", just that they don't have 'em now, but they have a million unofficial ones, and that they're going to continue to try and keep the unofficial ones running. Not sure how that translates into an "upcoming weakness", as it has been this way since the original iPhone.
posted by davejay at 10:36 AM on September 27, 2011


Yes, if you're OK with only having access to 2G internet on your iPhone, T-Mobile is happy to take you.
posted by mullingitover at 10:43 AM on September 27, 2011


Even after the Justice Department announced attempts to block AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile....

"attempts"? You are the government. Just do it.
posted by DU at 10:52 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


ATT wont be satisfied until they have a renewable 1,000-year lease on all use of the visible electromagnetic spectrum.
posted by longsleeves at 10:53 AM on September 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Remember when people were speculating that the iPhone was a super-sekrit plot to kill the major carriers and pretty soon voice would just be a component of data and texts would just be a component of data and data would be a commodity with commodity pricing and Apple would pretty soon any day now offer it's own data network and Google bought all that dark fiber to do something and why would everyone move to the cloud if the major carriers remain gatekeepers and carriers don't matter anymore and how could you be so stupid?
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:59 AM on September 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


ATT wont be satisfied until they have a renewable 1,000-year lease on all use of the visible electromagnetic spectrum.

You think it's bad now? Just wait for the Google-Apple-AT&T merger to be announced next week.

Heh heh heh false rumor starts now.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:02 AM on September 27, 2011


I really wish the iPhone was that secret plot to destroy them. I can't think of any other industry that actively tries to prevent you from using what you pay for.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:03 AM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is the equivalent of AT&T and T-Mobile both taking dives on the corporate football pitch. I want to see some red cards.

(Seriously, if the Feds allow this merger then we just need to admit we don't believe in antitrust measures anymore. And if the argument turns on "We need to allow it because T-Mobile won't survive on their own" then we haven't learned a fucking thing in the last 4 years.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:04 AM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really wish the iPhone was that secret plot to destroy them.

At least Google tried, with the Nexus One. Apple has been 69ing the carriers from Day 0.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:08 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gah. I am a reasonably satisfied T-Mobile customer, and my contract is up, but I've been waiting to decide whether to renew or seek another carrier until I can tell how this thing is going to play out. I have an old Android phone that I like just fine, but it needs replacing because it's on its last legs. I have no idea what to do. Thoughts?
posted by vibrotronica at 11:23 AM on September 27, 2011


T-Mobile sucks, but having transferred to it recently, I think AT&T sucks even worse, if that's possible. I say a pox on all their houses.
What? T-Mobile is by far the least suckiest carrier. By far the least likely to try to screw and restrict their customers, from what I can tell.
Talking about how great Android is while your customers are clamoring for iPhones just makes you come off as willfully ignorant of what they want.
Android sales are about twice as great as iOS sales at this point, but at the same time that's a single device compared to a huge range of devices. Android is good and people want it, but at the same time not having iOS means you're giving up 1/3rd of the market. Not all customers want the same thing.
posted by delmoi at 11:23 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gah. I am a reasonably satisfied T-Mobile customer, and my contract is up, but I've been waiting to decide whether to renew or seek another carrier until I can tell how this thing is going to play out. I have an old Android phone that I like just fine, but it needs replacing because it's on its last legs. I have no idea what to do. Thoughts?
What's great about T-Mobile is that it's a GSM carrier, while sprint and Verizon are not, so if you want to change phones you just swap the SIM card. You have a lot more freedom. In fact, if there were more competition in the U.S you could change carriers by changing SIM cards as well. But the only other GSM provider in the U.S. is... AT&T.

What we need are more, smaller carriers, not massive monopolies that screw over their customers.

For years,people in other countries had phones that could do video conferencing. Long before the first iPhone even came out, let alone the iPhone 4. The only reason we couldn't have it is because carriers didn't want it. But in other countries, you just buy the phone and SIM separately, and do whatever you want.
posted by delmoi at 11:26 AM on September 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Android sales are about twice as great as iOS sales at this point,

Only if you're counting iPhones as the only iOS device.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:32 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sure, but at a considerably higher cost, as they're not being subsidized by the phone plan. How many people would bother with an iPhone or whatever else fancy-ass smartphone if it was $500 up front?
posted by griphus at 11:32 AM on September 27, 2011


Sure, but at a considerably higher cost, as they're not being subsidized by the phone plan. How many people would bother with an iPhone or whatever else fancy-ass smartphone if it was $500 up front?

Not many people, if you look at the Nexus One. It wasn't even good enough for Google to keep it up, who essentially prints its own money.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:34 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Android sales are about twice as great as iOS sales at this point

You mean iPhone, not iOS. Once you add all the people buying iPads and iPods, Android isn't doing too well (cite).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:34 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shush, Blazecock, this is the year of linux on the desktop Android on the tablet!
posted by entropicamericana at 11:37 AM on September 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


It doesn't really matter, anyway. The carriers want iPhones because customers will spend money on data and SMS plans for them, which increase carrier profits.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:38 AM on September 27, 2011


Gah. I am a reasonably satisfied T-Mobile customer, and my contract is up, but I've been waiting to decide whether to renew or seek another carrier until I can tell how this thing is going to play out. I have an old Android phone that I like just fine, but it needs replacing because it's on its last legs. I have no idea what to do. Thoughts?

Switch to a no contract plan?
posted by Quonab at 11:41 AM on September 27, 2011


It wouldn't surprise me if Apple was unwilling to add the hardware necessary to support T-Mobile's 3G service. Sprint and Verizon are more or less compatible with each other so Apple doesn't need to modify its hardware to support Sprint.
posted by The Lamplighter at 11:41 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Quonad - you can also switch to T-Mobile's semi-secret "Even More Plus" plan. No contract, $60/month for unlimited data and text, 400-something minutes.
posted by The Lamplighter at 11:42 AM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


"attempts"? You are the government. Just do it.

Here in America we have these things called laws that limit the government's power to mess with businesses, regulations, and citizens.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:47 AM on September 27, 2011


"attempts"? You are the government. Just do it.

Law does not work that way.

(Seriously, if the Feds allow this merger then we just need to admit we don't believe in antitrust measures anymore. And if the argument turns on "We need to allow it because T-Mobile won't survive on their own" then we haven't learned a fucking thing in the last 4 years.)


The 'Feds' have already filed an antitrust action against it. There's a trail scheduled for February. You seem to think that getting merger approval is a bureaucratic procedure, which is not the case.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:50 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Trial, not trail.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:51 AM on September 27, 2011


Speaking of the tablet market. Amazon is announcing the Kinde Fire supposedly, I might get one , the iPad is a bit too heavy for reading ebooks. Such a hard life.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:53 AM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry to utterly off topic here, but I'd love to switch to a smartphone, especially an iPhone (I have an iPod Touch 4G), but it just doesn't seem to be in the cards. Right now I have a dumbphone (feature phone). Coverage is always an issue - I'm on Verizon, and even so, in Los Angeles, it's no great shakes as far as coverage and dropped calls. Apparently T-Mobile is even worse than Sprint for coverage. I'd go to Sprint, but the fervent hatred that spills out of the mouths of my two Sprint-tied friends here (plethora of issues), really gives me pause. AT&T is an abomination - and dead last in coverage of LA (unless you count Nextel). Then comes the cost. Right now, I'm paying $38 in total - including taxes, out the door, monthly. I'm willing to pay more, say, up to $60 out the door, total cost, because I could give up my landline (about $20 a month), but I don't want to give up the landline, as long as cell service is so unreliable. So this is where I've been stuck for several years now. And I don't see what's going to change - there's nothing of promise on the horizon. We're still living in the dark ages of telephonic communication as far as I am concerned. Maybe my nonexistent grandchildren will finally have civilized phone service in America, but I've given up hope.
posted by VikingSword at 11:56 AM on September 27, 2011


Oh, and the wife has a blackberry on Verizon - and I'm very unimpressed with that device. Which is why I'd want at least the iPhone, if I were to get a smartphone.
posted by VikingSword at 11:59 AM on September 27, 2011


You mean iPhone, not iOS. Once you add all the people buying iPads and iPods, Android isn't doing too well (cite).
Well, we're talking about phones here, which is what affects Verizon/T-mobile/etc. As far as I know no one even makes an android equivalent to the 'iPod' (i.e. a wifi only handheld)

Using the figures from this article you have 16 million iPhones and 7 million iPads (23m total) vs 24 million android phones, so there are more android phones alone compared to iPads and iPhones. And that's without figuring in the sales of android tablets, looking around it looks like there have been about a million sold total.

So Android has a larger installed base in the market it competes in. The competitor for the iPod are things like the PSP and Nintendo DS, plus generic MP3 players.
posted by delmoi at 12:01 PM on September 27, 2011


Those hoping for the destruction of AT&T can take comfort in the fact that these types of mega mergers usually go pretty badly.
posted by The Lamplighter at 12:05 PM on September 27, 2011


What? T-Mobile is by far the least suckiest carrier. By far the least likely to try to screw and restrict their customers, from what I can tell.

Damn right! I've been a T-Mobile customer for the better part of a decade and I think they are fantastic.

And how often do you hear that? Someone unsolicitedly praising their mobile provider? They certainly have issues with things like total coverage and lack of new iPhones for those that want them, but as a long term customer I have been very pleased with their support and more recently, the phones they do offer.

They aren't perfect, but they sure have done a lot more to make me a happy customer than I've seen the other providers do for friends and coworkers on different networks.

I'll say it again; AT&T can go fuck themselves. Leave my provider alone.
posted by quin at 12:22 PM on September 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Vikingsword, why don't you just go to MetroPCS? I got fine coverage in LA when I had a feature phone, and now they have smartphones at fairly affordable prices. No contract, cheap cost, pretty decent service. I'm with T-mobile (without a contract) because Metro didn't have any smartphones at the time when I bought one, but I might move back at some point in the future. IIRC Metro subleases the Sprint network.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:26 PM on September 27, 2011


I've looked into MetroPCS a couple of years ago, and the feedback they had was horrific. Maybe things have changed. I suppose I should look into them again. Anyhow, I'm already planning on looking at the whole issue again as soon as my current Verizon contract ends early next year.
posted by VikingSword at 12:45 PM on September 27, 2011


> no iPhone 5

Is there any solid data that there will even be an iPhone 5 this year? I thought signs were pointing to some sort of upgraded iPhone 4S and then a $99 iPhone 4.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:18 PM on September 27, 2011


Or maybe not. Wily Apple keeping us in suspense.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:20 PM on September 27, 2011


True story, I just called AT&T customer service to speak to a particular agent: Was placed on hold for 9 minutes and transferred to the wrong voicemail box. Could not get back to the operator by pressing zero. Dialed back in and I'm currently on hold at the six minute mark.

AT&T answers to nobody and that needs to change.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:31 PM on September 27, 2011


quin wrote: And how often do you hear that? Someone unsolicitedly praising their mobile provider?

Until a couple of years ago, I provided much unsolicited praise for Cingular. The network side of things has, aside from a couple of glitches when they were combining the ATTWS network and the Cingular network, been pretty much fantastic around here. My problem has been more with the business side of things.

Regarding T-Mobile and an iPhone, is it even rumored that the iPhone 5 will be penta-band? If Apple doesn't want to bother making a 1700MHz phone, there's not really any point in T-Mo getting an iPhone anyway. Who the heck wants EDGE these days?

TBH, the only reason I'm hoping that at&t doesn't get to buy T-Mobile is that I don't want to have only one choice of GSM carrier. If/when VZW and SPCS get their heads out of their asses and start using SIMs (which has been an option for almost the entirety of the last decade; the CDMA standards support it), I'll consider them. Until then, no interest. At. All.
posted by wierdo at 1:59 PM on September 27, 2011


The 'Feds' have already filed an antitrust action against it. There's a trail scheduled for February. You seem to think that getting merger approval is a bureaucratic procedure, which is not the case.

I know how it works. But it's not done until it's done. There's still plenty of time to drop the case, or reach some kind of "agreement".
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:31 PM on September 27, 2011


So the DoJ files an antitrust action, but you're getting worked up anyway in case it gets resolved in some unspecified way that you might not like. I can't help contrasting this with your your lack of interest in/support for the antitrust action in the original thread, even though it was alive for over 2 weeks. With friends like this, who needs enemies?
posted by anigbrowl at 4:45 PM on September 27, 2011


So the DoJ files an antitrust action, but you're getting worked up anyway in case it gets resolved in some unspecified way that you might not like. I can't help contrasting this with your your lack of interest in/support for the antitrust action in the original thread, even though it was alive for over 2 weeks. With friends like this, who needs enemies?

Dude. I'm not fighting with you. I think we're on the same side. I don't know why I didn't participate in the first thread. I've been working hard on other stuff the last month or so and haven't spent my usual amount of time on the blue. But I can assure you I'm on record many places supporting the antitrust suit.

I'm also on the record as not having much faith in the FCC. They've been selling the public down the river for a long time now.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:26 PM on September 27, 2011


As far as I know no one even makes an android equivalent to the 'iPod' (i.e. a wifi only handheld)

Archos makes them. In fact, the first tablet to run a phone OS was the Archos 5 Android - it was out 6 months before the iPad.
posted by rfs at 1:34 PM on September 28, 2011


Samsung also makes a WiFi only Galaxy S.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:43 PM on September 28, 2011


Which Telecoms Store Your Data the Longest? Secret Memo Tells All
posted by homunculus at 4:38 PM on September 28, 2011


Sprint to 'Bet the Company' on iPhone
The No. 3 wireless company is making a multibillion dollar gamble that Apple Inc.'s gadget will be the ticket to a turnaround, even though Sprint Chief Executive Dan Hesse told the board in August that Sprint would likely lose money on the deal until 2014, according to people familiar with the matter.

....

Mr. Hesse told the board the carrier would have to agree to purchase at least 30.5 million iPhones over the next four years—a commitment of $20 billion at current rates—whether or not it could find people to buy them, according to people familiar with the matter. In order to keep the price people pay for the phone low and competitive with rivals, Sprint would be subsidizing the cost of each phone to the tune of about $500, which would take a long time to recoup even at the high monthly fees iPhone users pay.

...

The board ultimately signed off on what the company internally called the "Sony" project, concluding Sprint couldn't compete otherwise. Directors figured, "How can we pass this up? We have to have it," the person familiar with the matter said.
posted by cashman at 12:13 PM on October 3, 2011


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