T-Mobile To Overhaul Business Model To Be Competitive With Apple Inc.

Has acceptance of Brand hype led to lower product quality for consumers?

T-mobile

T-Mobile has overhauled its business model in order to be more competitive with Apple Inc. This includes removing contracts, in favor of pre-paid. A press conference will be held on March 26, where they are likely have more information about their plans.

T-Mobile will talk more about how it has shifted it’s focus for customers. Pre-paid has shown to be a more popular option, over the traditional contract model. They have lost customers to their larger competitors over the last few years, with their charges of switching over to pre-paid. During the CES 2013 convention, T-Mobile announced it would offer its non-contractual unlimited data plan, a sign they are listening to today’s consumer needs.  T-Mobile’s Web site now shows that a customer can select an unlimited talk, text, and Web option that includes up to 500MB of high-speed data for a single phone for $50 a month. As with all data plans the price will rise as the data level increases,  2GB for $60, 4GB for $70, etc.

The rate does not include the fee you pay for your phone. Instead of a subsidy, you pay a small fee on top of your phone bill each month to pay off your smartphone. But unlike the higher monthly fees you would normally pay, while under a contract, the fees stop once you pay off the phone.

The BlackBerry Z10 launch, slated on Tuesday, is supposed to coincide with the launch of 4G LTE. The 4G LTE announcements should address one of the consumers problems with the T-Mobile’s service. They are also expected to eventually offer the iPhone, which would quash the complaint that T-Mobile lacks all the smartphones that its competitors offer.

So it looks like T-Mobile will be able to service many brands with its 4G LTE high speed network. So if your looking at moving carriers but prefer the iPhone series from Apple Inc. and prefer the pre-paid option rather than bottling yourself down with a contract, T-Mobile might be the answer for you. While Apple have certainly created a market for their products, iPhone, iPod, iPad and of course iTunes, its plain to see that T-Mobile will be able to offer their new customers other options.

But, I have to say I have a bug bear with the latest Apple Inc. products. As a consumer myself, when I purchase something I expect it to work the way they advertised it would. From a toaster to a house, false advertising is against consumer law. Technology today is continually evolving, and that is due to market competition and consumers expecting more bang for their buck; iPhone vs Galaxy vs Blackberry etc. etc.

Am I expecting too much to be able to purchase a new smartphone or any product for that matter, and then expect it to work, perfectly? I wouldn’t of thought so.

iphone, samsung and blackberry smartphone technology vs consumersSomehow, consumers have reached a point where they accept a brands new release which doesn’t work properly, especially from the technology arena. We have come to accept when purchasing technology, that there will be necessary upgrades while the ‘bugs’ are ironed out. Gone are the days, it seems, that when we buy a product we expect it to work, the way the supplier advertised.

The larger influence a brand like Apple Inc. have in the market, the more they seem to think it’s acceptable to release their “‘next series” that is less than perfect on an unsuspecting public, and then expect consumers to let ‘them’ know what doesn’t work. Isn’t that their job, to test it before they release it to us. Isn’t that part of the equation when costing out a product for sale? Haven’t we already paid for that at the till? Its a mindset that has me, as a consumer, concerned for what’s to come. Are we sending the wrong message to influential brands like Apple, Samsung and Blackberry, that releasing technology to us that is less than perfect is now the norm?

When brands provide us with ‘new and improved’ versions of the product we like, I expect the ‘new and improved’ to give me ‘more’ than the previous model and new features. Not a ‘fix’ on the previous model! Case in point- iPhone5 to iPhone iOS 6.1.3, back to iPhone5S.

The technology market is a tough arena, the competition is high. The moment a new product is released with upgraded technology or new features, its out of date. Why have we come to accept this as the norm, is it just part of the ever evolving roundabout of technology? I think, in part at least, it’s because we want it all and we want it now and that puts the market under pressure to perform. The market hype around smartphones is exactly that, hype! They’ve told us we ‘need’ all those apps and we’ve bought into it. For the most part, they all do the same thing. It just comes down to a preference of brand, Apple, Samsung, Blackberry etc. They all mostly have the same features and capabilities.

These major market brands, Apple, Samsung, Blackberry, to name a few, release their products early to beat the competition, plain and simple and then tout that they just want us, their consumers to have the ‘new and improved’ version as soon as possible and we’ll give you a fix for the bugs later. What, really?  In truth the release of a product has nothing to do with giving consumers what they want, but more truth surrounds the reality that consumers are the brands end product. And if we understand that, that we are the end product, that means we have more value than the item of technology that we are paying for.

Essentially I ask, are we devaluing ourselves as consumers? Are we undermining the power we have as consumers? Why are we accepting the products that Apple, Samsung or Blackberry release to us when they are laden with bugs, apps and operating systems that don’t function, the way they advertised to us? Are we being impatience, are we forcing them to hurry up. No matter what the cause it’s ultimately the brands like  Apple, Samsung or Blackberry’s responsibility to provide us with a product that is stable, secure and works the way they advertise it does, from the get go, right out of the gate. They’ve charged us for a working horse, supplied us with a lame horse, and then expect us to take it to the vet. Even if they pay the vet bill, its just lazy on their behalf! And by accepting their behavior, we enable it further.

Some fun (US) stats from Reputation Garage: via Trend.com

  • As few as 13% of all Americans place their trust in big business (and it’s not much higher for other mature consumer societies!).
  • Only 39% of employees in a Watson Wyatt survey said they trusted senior leadership.
  • Some three-quarters of US consumers feel that companies don’t tell the truth in advertising
  • Three-quarters of employees in big companies observed violations of the law or company standards in a 12-month period.

Reputation Garage say in a more current blog, in reference to employee/corporate relationships that “low-trust must now become a central issue in shaping human capital strategies, employee engagement and corporate performance initiatives. Why? Because trust is transactional and can impact relationships in every corner of your organization. No matter what the transaction may be – an interbank loan, a frank discussion with an employee, a sales pitch, or a team meeting – the outcome is aided when trust is high and hurt when it’s low. In this sense you can think of high trust as an accelerant to business performance and low trust as a kind of clotting agent that at best slows transactions down and at worst stops them dead in their tracks.”

I agree with them, but for the purpose of this article, I reference it back to the consumer. Consumer high trust accelerates sales, whereas low trust, should by their analogy, slow sales. The relationship between consumers and the brands that sell us their products defies this analogy. The way we express ourselves via blogs and comments on websites, implies we don’t trust the products these brands sell us, but we still run, sorry, sprint to the retailer to buy it. We even stand in a que for hours, in rain, hail, snow and stinking hot sunny days to get our hands on what, a less than perfect product. And we just know before we buy it that there will be ‘issues’. What message are we sending these influential brands? Have we become contradictory in our acceptance? Has ‘the putting right that counts’ become more important, than expecting them to get it right in the first place, before they release a less than acceptable product on an unsuspecting public?

The longer we continue to accept this behavior as the norm, the more it will continue and brands like Apple will continue to supply us with a less than perfect product, only to have to ‘fix’ the shortcomings they probably knew about in the first place. Essentially their actions dictate that all they care about is ‘beating’ their competition to a release, even if its less than perfect in application, they know we will accept the reality of having to download patches to fix bugs or inefficiencies in the product they have released.

And it will continue that way for as long as we buy their ‘new and improved’ versions. If a product doesn’t work, the way a brand ‘advertise’ it does, then take it back to the shop and ask for your money back. Don’t download the fix they give you. The putting right, has become an excuse to releasing a less than adequate product. Time to send brands like Apple a message- ‘good enough’ is no longer ‘good enough’!

T-Mobile look like they’re heading in the right direction with their overhauled business model. I hope they succeed in being more competitive with Apple Inc. Another competitive carrier in the market can only be in favor of the consumer.

Debra Wattes
Columnist

3 Responses to T-Mobile To Overhaul Business Model To Be Competitive With Apple Inc.

  1. Seriously Pick a New Career March 27, 2013 at 4:32 am

    Debra Wattes is possibly the worst writer on the internet.

    Reply
  2. Brett March 26, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    “T-Mobile has overhauled its business model in order to be more competitive with Apple Inc. ”

    “Not a ‘fix’ on the previous model! Case in point- iPhone5 to iPhone iOS 6.1.3, back to iPhone5S.”

    Um, you really shouldn’t be reporting on the technology industry, or for that matter the telecommunications industry, if you have no understanding of either topic, or why they are different.

    What computer hardware does T-Mobile design and manufacture? What operating systems do they develop? How are they, in any way, in competition with Apple Inc?

    You also seem to have a great deal of difficulty in differentiation between a physical device, and the software that runs on that device. iPhone 5, and its future replacement which may or may not be called iPhone5S, are hardware devices. iOS is an operating system that currently runs on multiple hardware devices, include iPhone 4, 4S, 5, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPod Touch etc.

    Basic journalism requires that you at least attempt to understand the topic you write about, before writing and publishing an article on that topic. Please lift your game.

    Reply

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