With tomorrow’s iPad 2 launch, it’s a win-win-win for Apple, consumers, and the nation’s two largest carriers AT&T and Verizon. But what about the nation’s third and fourth largest carriers, Sprint and T-Mobile? Despite the end of AT&T’s exclusivity agreement, Apple continues to snub Sprint and T-Mobile, leaving them scrambling to stay in the game.
Sprint and T-Mobile being snubbed not only hurts their revenues as subscribers wanting i-devices bleed out to AT&T and Verizon, but it also hurts their brand images. Could Apple be ignoring the two carriers because their networks are not up to par? This can solidify consumers’ perception that the two brands are indeed the losers of the bunch. Sprint touted itself as the first 4G provider but its commitment to its WiMAX service is getting shaky as the new LTE 4G network begins to dominate the landscape. T-Mobile on the other hand was perceived as being late in the game and having lesser coverage.
There is speculation now that Sprint and T-Mobile plan to join forces to battle against AT&T and Verizon. But the two could either end up stronger or even more fragmented as they present to consumers a confusing mix of CDMA and GSM offerings with its WiMAX future uncertain and possibly supplemented with LTE. They will definitely need strong 4G products that can rival Apple’s offerings in order to remain significant players.