Not to brag, but we called it: No T-Mobile iPhone emerged today, despite several speculative reports to the contrary. Instead, T-Mo’s corporate parent Deutsche Telekom made the rather wishy-washy statement on Thursday that T-Mobile would start selling some kind of Apple(s aapl) product next year.
“T-Mobile has entered into an agreement with Apple to bring products to market together next year. Additional details will be made available at a later date,” a T-Mobile spokesman said in a statement.
Update: T-Mobile CEO John Legere has confirmed that the iPhone will be among those Apple devices.
That lines up exactly with what we’ve been saying for the last year. T-Mobile’s network isn’t yet ready to support the iPhone or iPad yet, but it will be in the near future when T-Mo completes its network overhaul. And once that overhaul is complete, Apple will jump at the chance. T-Mobile may be the smallest nationwide operator in the U.S. but it still has a customer base larger than population of most countries.
The big question is how far along in its overhaul T-Mobile will be before the Apple deigns it iPhone ready. In the next six months T-Mobile will likely complete the reconfiguration of HSPA+ on the 1900 MHz PCS band, which will make its 3G network iPhone compatible nationwide (today only its 2G service works on the iPhone). Or Apple may want to wait for T-Mobile’s LTE network, which the carrier plans to launch in the latter half of 2013. If Apple does wait for LTE, that almost certainly means T-Mobile will have to wait for the next generation of iOS devices, whatever they may be.
Either way, once T-Mobile is done with its network upgrades, all generations of the iPhone and iPad will be optimized for its networks, leaving no obstacle for a long and fruitful Apple-T-Mobile relationship.