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Summary:

T-Mobile said today that it had 32.8 million customers as of the end of the fourth quarter after adding 621,000 more during the three-month period. That’s a 35 percent drop in net adds from the same three-month period in 2007 and 49,000 less than T-Mobile added in […]

android_robot1T-Mobile said today that it had 32.8 million customers as of the end of the fourth quarter after adding 621,000 more during the three-month period. That’s a 35 percent drop in net adds from the same three-month period in 2007 and 49,000 less than T-Mobile added in the third quarter of 2008. It’s also far less than the 2.1 million net adds reported by AT&T and the 1.2 million Verizon gained during the fourth quarter.

Unlike AT&T’s gains that came via its exclusive deal for the iPhone, it looks like folks weren’t willing to switch carriers in order to be the first to get their hands on the the G1 “Google phone” that T-Mobile released during the fourth quarter. Perhaps it’s because other phones running Android are due to be released on Sprint as well. Even T-Mobile’s newly deployed 3G network isn’t goosing customer growth.

Despite Given the recession, T-Mobile is decreasing increasing the proportion of pre-paid customers it’s attracting. While the number is up over the fourth quarter of last year, only 43 percent of this quarter’s new customers are  pre-paid contract compared to 77 percent of those that signed up in the fourth quarter of 2007.

  1. Interesting… Also, storm released after android and sold over 1million units so far http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/verizonsays-it-has-sold-1m-blackberry-storms/2009-01-28

    Does that say something about the attraction of android?

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  2. I’ve been using a G1 for the last three weeks, and I’d say that the problem lies less in Android (which is a good mobile OS), and more in the unfortunate hardware platform it’s running on. Google should have been more patient, and released the G1 on svelte piece of hardware.

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  3. The iPhone was the next logical step for millions and millions of people who owned iPods, so it’s not hard to figure that launching basically a product extension tied to one specific carrier would boost sales for that carrier.

    Similarly, Blackberry is the standard for business use with a huge built-in market. Coupled with arguably the best US carrier (Verizon), you’ve got a product for the millions of iPhone hating, Verizon-loving edge consumers.

    Android is a different beast entirely, and it’s almost impossible to compare the three. iPhones are about media consumers, Blackberrys are about business consumers (for the most part), while Android is about openess, communication, data, and cloud.

    Two of these are products, and one is the operating backbone for the managing world’s information. Expecting a bump for this carrier or that carrier misses the point entirely.

    But, for the sake of “journalism”, it certainly is easier to lump them all together and make meaningless comparisons.

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  4. Android (at least on the G1 anyway) has been pretty much a flop in terms of sales and numbers, sadly. The idea is great (openness and all), but the hardware and software needs more work, IMHO.

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  5. So I take it that Mike is saying that the iPhone and the Blackberry are based upon business models, but that Android is more of a hobby or a political statement and thus its actual results therefore don’t matter?

    My experience thus far is that “People want open software-based solutions” is about as true as the first 30 years of TV convergence was. People want stuff that works and in some way increases the quality of their life. It’s a very small minority that care about how or why it works.

    I say this having committed code in open source projects as far back as BSD 2.9. Open source is a stupid business model if its the only business model that one is offering — one has to offer compelling solutions. And one’s solutions will be compared to one’s competitors’ solutions on the basis of their ability to perform, not on the basis of their openness.

    So comparing the results is quite a reasonable approach to ascertaining whether or not Android is mass-market compelling yet. Right now it’s clearly not…

    reinharden

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  6. more people are buying nokia 5800 (which has sold more than million sets ) in india as iphone flopped in india ,i think we should give Android more time for more hardware vendors (like motorola , htc) to release sets and more applications to come , we cannot compare Android which is platform to single vendor specific iphone ….give Android year then talk

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  7. @reinharden – Fair point. I am of the mind that too much openness is not what users want as well. The phone certainly has more under the hood than I’ll ever use.

    My point was more that the iPhone/Blackberry Storm are about shipping units for the OEM and filling the carrier’s pockets. Android is certainly about increasing the subscriber base for the carriers, but it’s also about one unified system that sees how people use and interact with the phone, and what can be done with that flood ( or so far, trickle) of data. Kind of a big-picture view, I know.

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  8. Part of the issue with G1 on T-mobile is that they released it premature where software is not all the sleek nor the hardware. I use G1, I am happy about what it can do, but still I do not think it comes near iphone in terms of usability. T mobile/Google is slow in fixing some of the important aspects like email on this device. If you are paying $25 for data plan and you cannot rely on it to deliver your emails properly it does not sound right. Standard response from G1 fans is that it has been hardly 3-4 months since it is released, give some time. Some of us may be more patient to wait for the benefits to come, however general public dont care if it is 3 months or 3 years, they want something that is functional right now. iPhone received huge buzz because of iPod and apple, HTC’s G1 is no where close. So, it never had the popularity to attract people for that platform, most of the buzz was with tech aware people for it’s ‘open’ platform. It is also to be noted that T-mobile did put some restriction on this ‘open’ platform like no voip irrespective of network you use (home wi-fi or T-mo mobile network), that is quite irritating.

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  9. You misread the press release. T-Mobile is actually INCREASING the number of prepaid customers.

    The proportion of net new customers on contracts decreased…
    “Net new contract customer additions amounted to 267,000 in the fourth quarter of 2008, or 43% of total net new
    customer additions, compared to 293,000 or 44% in the third quarter of 2008 and 733,000 or 77% in the fourth quarter of 2007″

    …while the proportion of prepaid net adds increased.
    “Prepaid net additions were 355,000 [out of 621,000] in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared to 377,000 in the third quarter of 2008, and up from 218,000 [out of 951,000] in the fourth quarter of 2007.”

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  10. Stacey Higginbotham Thursday, January 29, 2009

    David, after reading the release three more times, I realized you were right. It’s both an increase in the proportion of pre-paid and an increase in the actual number. Thanks, I fixed it.

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