John Legere has to be my favorite CEO so far. He’s outspoken, he’s disruptive, and he’s managed to turn around the once ill-fated T-Mobile from a company bleeding hundreds of thousands of customers, to one that has gained a million in a single quarter; making it the fastest growing carrier for two straight quarters. He was appointed CEO not even a year and a half ago and he’s already managed to scare AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint into playing catch-up and trying to match the company’s new plans and price points. But nothing they do seems to match T-Mobile US’ ambitious plans.
Legere (pronounced ledge-er) was appointed CEO following the failed acquisition from AT&T, with the hope of implementing a challenger strategy to make T-Mobile US an attractive carrier once more. He first began to reshape T-Mobile with his first Uncarrier announcement in March of this year, ridding the 2-year contract scheme that has been part of the US mobile phone space for many years. “This is an industry filled with ridiculously confusing contracts and monthly bills that make little sense,” he was quoted saying, referring to the wireless industry as out-of-touch. “As America’s Un-carrier, we are changing all of that and bringing common sense to wireless.” This made purchasing a phone much simpler, as customers paid a monthly installment for their device until it was payed off (or they could pay for it all up front), in which case their phone was unlocked and they were free to roam to another carrier if they wanted. Customers were also given a new low-cost simple plan called… the Simple Choice plan. $50 for unlimited text, talk, and 500mb of web (an extra $10 for an additional 2GB, or $20 for unlimited everything). This new direction had shocked the industry, and it was only amplified by Legere’s foul mouth as he urged the industry to “Please stop the bulls****”.
Around 4 months later was the next Uncarrier event, this time addressing the way in which customers upgrade their devices. Until recently, the norm was to be stuck on a two-year contract that held us to our device until it was over (with some companies offering reduced rates after a year). Legere decided that this made no sense, to he introduced JUMP!, a new upgrade plan that allowed customers to upgrade every 6 months. For example, if you’re still paying off your current phone, and 6 months passed since you signed up, you can then trade in your current device (that’s in good working condition), and get a new one, negating whatever you had left on the equipment bill for that previous device and starting a new one. And you could do this every 6 months for a low cost of $10. This also replaces whatever you’re paying for insurance which is usually a separate cost of $8 or $12, saving you a few bucks and giving you a lot more bang for your buck. To many, this new upgrade plan made a lot of sense, since the mobile industry moves so fast that new becomes old fairly quickly, and two years is way too long to wait… Ain’t nobody got time for that!
AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon have all reacted to this new plan, in an obvious attempt to not get caught off-guard by the smaller carrier. Their respective upgrade plans launched with much criticism, especially AT&T’s Next program, which they recently amended to appear like a more attractive offer than what they initially executed. The Verge recently compared the offerings from The Big 4, and no matter how you looked at it, it seemed that T-Mobile was the more attractive offer. And with the other carriers scrambling to get their similar plans out there, it was obvious that T-Mobile had them very worried.
Just two months ago, Legere took to the stage again to announce the next phase in the Uncarrier initiative, this time focusing on international rates. “The cost of staying connected across borders is completely crazy,” said Legere, annoucing that T-Mobile was finally tearing down borders and allowing customers to roam outside the US with coverage in over 100 countries and at no extra cost to them. The only catch is that you have to be on the company’s already attractive Simple Choice plan. This significantly reduces the cost of using your phone when away on a business trip or vacation, which can usually incur costs in the thousands. With this comes the new Stateside International plan, where for $10 a month T-Mobile promises no more than 20¢ per minute when calling one of the Global Simple countries from the US, while calls made to landlines in over 70 countries are unlimited (texting is unlimited for any country). Sounds a little complicated, I know, but it’s actually quite a catch when you think about it.
All this is at the heals of the Metro PCS acquisition, which has expanded T-Mobile’s network and customer base, and allowing them to launch a nationwide LTE network much quicker than expected. But they still have a lot to do, and their network isn’t perfect nor is it at the same level as rivals AT&T or Verizon, but they’ve seen immense growth this year alone and there seems to be no slowing down for this company that was once dead weight to its parent, Deutsche Telekom.
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) December 18, 2013
Yesterday (December 17th), my favorite CEO tweeted the above statement announcing an Uncarrier 4 event. When? Well, he says to stay tuned, but that “Happy New Year” makes us think that it may be soon that we hear from our illustrious Legere again. Perhaps early January at CES 2014? We also can’t help but notice (and laugh at) his mention of Randall L. Stephenson, the CEO of AT&T, though we’re not entirely sure if this is to spite him, or if he has something to do with the announcement (though the former is more likely and frankly more entertaining for us). It’s also noted that while it’s clearly stated that they’re planning to “eliminate another customer pain point”, we’re not really sure that it could be. It’s been rumored lately that Sprint may want to buy the Uncarrier, and it seems that Dish Network is looking purchase T-Mobile US as well, both of which seem unlikely now that the company is actually doing pretty well for itself.
So what do you think Legere’s next bold move will be to shake up the industry?