I recently had an interesting chat with my wireless provider's customer service department, when I told the rep that I was moving my four lines to T-Mobile, which offers a family plan for $120, roughly half what I'm paying now.
"How can that be?" she exclaimed. "I hadn't heard of that, and usually we're pretty up to date on the market."
After having just listened to T-Mobile's encouraging second-quarter earnings, it seemed fitting that I would be having the conversation I was having. There's a head-in-the-sand condition that goes along with being on top. One might even say Apple has been suffering similar symptoms recently.
"They're not our competition," the rep continued, referring to T-Mobile, "or I should say, they're not our main competition."
As boisterous as Legere has been about introducing his "Un-carrier" approach, I get the feeling he'd be just fine slipping in the back door unnoticed. Granted, AT&T and Verizon have both unveiled responses to T-Mobile's Jump! program, but overall, I still don't think they understand that consumers aren't necessarily pleased with the status quo and really are looking for other options.
The very fact that T-Mobile added 1.1 million subscribers in the second quarter, a big chunk of them high-value postpaid accounts, indicates a major shift in the market. And the fact that T-Mobile reduced its churn to a record low of 1.58 percent means this isn't, as Legere put it, "just a blip."
Granted, I know that T-Mobile's network won't offer the kind of coverage my current provider does. It also may not be able to offer the speeds I'm used to. We'll see. But at literally half the price, I'm willing to give it a shot. After researching T-Mobile's coverage maps and speeds (HSPA+ 42) in my home market, the services looks decent enough that I'll be able to manage.
When I look at all the flack Apple is getting for not having innovated enough (mind you, this is after having created an entire industry and disrupted four others), I'm starting to wonder where th pressure is for the carriers to think differently. As a wireless customer, I have to ask why it is that the same kind of innovation is not expected of the major carriers? Sure, they build out better networks, and admittedly spend a lot of money doing so, but I struggle to call current carrier strategies on pricing and services 'innovative' much less a bargain.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, every wireless customer in the United States should be cheering on T-Mobile and Sprint. They are our last best hope for renewed competition in this country, and competition always breeds innovation. With Legere promising "Un-carrier 3.0" on the horizon, I'm hoping we see even more reaction from the major carriers, as number three and number four look to shake up the game.