U.S. Carriers Are Desperate — This Week Proved It

imageIt’s becoming clearer by the quarter that most wireless operators simply don’t have a phone or user experience that can compete with the iPhone. The financial results reported by the top three U.S. carriers this past week offered the latest evidence, with AT&T (NYSE: T) being the exception: AT&T continued to grow at a rapid pace — but mostly due to new customers coming on board because of the iPhone. T-Mobile USA, in particular, saw minuscule customer additions despite having launched the highly anticipated T-Mobile G1. Likewise, Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) placed its bets on the BlackBerry Storm, and despite hitting one million in sales, had a slight decrease in subscriber additions in the fourth quarter compared to the previous period, along with a significant drop over the year-ago period. (Sprint (NYSE: S) Nextel, which is touting the Samsung Instinct as an iPhone-competitor, will report earnings in February.)

In trying to compete with the iPhone, each of the carriers has its own gap to close. The iPhone is a hit because it combines a sleek device with a popular set of services, including the Apple app store. Contrast that to what Verizon and T-Mobile are offering: The BlackBerry Storm (Verizon) doesn