T-MOBILE’S STRATEGY PAYS OFF: T-Mobile’s total net subscriber additions for the fourth quarter of 2013 were around 1.6 million, bringing its 2013 net additions up to 4.4 million. This comes during a year in which T-Mobile went to great lengths to differentiate itself from its three other competitors, Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint, with strategies like its “Uncarrier” plan and buying more spectrum to improve its coverage.
MORE LUCRATIVE CUSTOMERS: Not only did it add a significant number of new subscribers overall this past quarter, but over half of those subscribers were “postpaid” customers who operate on contract and are more lucrative to wireless carriers. T-Mobile added around 869,000 postpaid subscribers in the fourth quarter, to cap off a year in which they pivoted from early net subscriber losses into three consecutive quarters of subscriber gains. The 869,000 postpaid subscriber adds marks 34% growth from the 648,000 added in the previous quarter and is a huge improvement from the fourth quarter of 2012, in which T-Mobile lost 515,000 subs.
Clearly, the success of T-Mobile’s unconventional approach to acquiring new customers is resonating across the industry. We reviewed AT&T’s “sponsored data” program, which will let content providers compete against one another to pay for added data usage for consumers, wondering whether the long-term effect could actually weaken the customer’s experience given that certain content providers will rise above others. Now Sprint has come out with a “Framily” plan, in which existing customers recruit friends and family to their plans in order to achieve a cheaper per user rate. Kevin Fitchard at GigaOm likens it to the business models of multi-level marketing firms like Amway and Solavei. Whatever the case, T-Mobile’s success clearly has the industry on notice. And with U.S. smartphone adoption petering, we’ll likely see more carriers announce unconventional strategies. But T-Mobile may already be ahead of the pack. (Wall Street Journal)
CODENAME: NORMANDY — Last week, VentureBeat discussed the merits of Windows forking a version of Android for their phones. Now, there is a leaked photo of the Android phones that Nokia has been working on. Microsoft is set to close the deal on its acquisition of Nokia’s handset division soon. (The Verge)
CARS are the hottest new gadget at CES 2014, argues Jessica Naziri for the Los Angeles Times. She offers an extensive rundown of the companies involved in bringing mobile computing technologies into vehicle dashboards. Most importantly, these companies are approaching it by opening their in-car systems to outside developers encouraging them to create new, unique apps and experiences. (Los Angeles Times)
Could Yahoo employees be writing fabricated positive reviews of its own mobile apps? Much speculation abounded after Yahoo’s David Pogue and Nick D’Alosio touted these positive reviews in front of hundreds on stage at CES. With an app ecosystem that is filling up rapidly, companies will seemingly do anything to improve visibility. (Buzzfeed)
DIGITAL DOMINATION: The rent-before-you-buy strategy has helped push digital movie sales up 47% from 2012 to 2013, for revenue of over $US1.19 billion, according to the Digital Entertainment Group. Subscription streaming revenue saw the next most significant growth this year compared to other categories of home entertainment revenue, while physical DVD sales and rentals declined dramatically. (Wall Street Journal)
Confide is a new messaging app that has a fresh take on the ephemeral features we’ve seen from Snapchat and others. It aims at professionals in the workplace so that they can speak among colleagues confidently about personnel or legal matters. (Bloomberg Businessweek)
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