T-Mobile Stung by Customer Anger Over iPhone for BlackBerry Trade-ins

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2014-02-18 Print this article Print

Eventually, through some smart negotiating by Legere, T-Mobile gained an agreement to sell iPhones to its users of its mobile network.

So now the iPhone officially runs on T-Mobile (unlocked iPhones have always worked on the carrier's network, although sometimes with difficulty). I was one of those people who went out and bought an unlocked iPhone and ran it on T-Mobile. A week later, I returned it to Apple.

Since then, T-Mobile has been featuring the iPhone at a lower price than the competition, and it's been selling them with very attractive terms, while also claiming to offer higher wireless speeds and better voice quality. But not everyone, it seems, finds the iPhone 5 irresistible.

For me the screen was too small, and it was hard to type on the tiny keyboard. A couple of months later, I got a BlackBerry Z10, which worked just fine on the T-Mobile network, had a larger screen and faster browser, and was vastly easier to type on.

But there's more to the backlash than just a better keyboard. The BlackBerry has a long-established reputation as a mobile device for business applications, which is a big reason why some BlackBerry customers are so loyal to the brand. Couple this with T-Mobile's international roaming along with service plans that are reasonably priced, and it's easy to see why using a BlackBerry on T-Mobile is a win for business.

But to be really useful for some businesses, security is a must. This means using the BlackBerry Enterprise Server and BlackBerry Balance. While security may not matter to some, it's critical for companies that work for government services, for government contractors or in the financial sector.

Over the long term, carriers' steadiest business comes from business users. These are the users who pay for high amounts of data, who are willing to pay for reliable access and who must have a secure network connection. This, of course, is the BlackBerry sweet spot.

While BlackBerry is now making its relatively secure BlackBerry Messenger available to iOS and Android users, it's the company's devices that can take advantage of BlackBerry Balance, which allows users to partition the device for work and personal access and maintain a solid wall between the two sides.

Here in Washington, D.C., BlackBerry devices are very common. While they still don't have the market share of Apple or Android devices, they're very much a part of the mobile landscape.

So why did T-Mobile ask BlackBerry users to turn in their devices? Probably it was just one more way to build up interest in T-Mobile's constant battle to be top-of-mind amongst mobile customers.

But for loyal BlackBerry users, it looked like another insult to their favorite mobile device maker. Fortunately, saner heads prevailed and T-Mobile has changed its position. BlackBerry devices are once again going to be available from T-Mobile, and the concerns of BlackBerry's customers have been addressed.


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