Phones are the Face of the Carrier


img_phone_carriersThere was a time when mobile carriers would try to distinguish themselves based on the service they provided and their pricing plans.

“The times are a-changin’,” and ever since the iPhone, mobile carriers have tried to make phones the face of their company.

AT&T = iPhone

When most people think of the iPhone they also think of AT&T. The iPhone and its marketing revolutionized the mobile phone industry. Not only did they make an appealing product, but Apple made AT&T part of its brand in a way.

Majority if not all of the iPhone commercials seem to come from Apple. Not only until the end of the commercial do we see or hear about AT&T and their “On the fastest 3G network” slogan.
Though AT&T does have it’s “More Bars” and “Rollover Minutes” commercials they are not as prominent on the air waves.

The venture between these two has merged the Professional with the teen market to create one product that is cool, professional and efficient. Something that was missing, since BlackBerries were not sexy and SideKicks are too teenybopper.

However, come Q1 2010 Dell’s 3iX, which runs Android, will hit AT&T’s stores. It should be interesting to see how AT&T decides to approach and promote the phone and OS.

T-Mobile = Android

T-Mobile was synonymous with Android for a while. Ever since the G1, Android fans embraced T-Mobile and Google’s open source policy. However, T-Mobile did not really make the G1 its face. Instead, they waited until the myTouch 3G to come out this past summer.

They then rolled out the CLIQ and re-invented their pricing plans to be about half off AT&T’s and Verizon’s pricing plans. Oddly enough, T-Mobile hasn’t really made a big promotional push with their new pricing plans.

Sure they rehired Catherine Zeta-Hotness to be the face of T-Mobile once again, and got Oprah and the Black Eyed Peas to make a 1 hour Oprah episode to push mytouch 3G, but they haven’t made their new pricing plans stand out. In fact, they have only released one commercial explaining their new pricing plans and another one saying they are cheaper than the rest.

Instead, their push for Android has gone as far as creating brochures displaying Android based phones and Top Ten paid and free apps.
These pics were taken from TMonews

In Europe they have these sing along commercials.

Why not walk around with the Promo phones and have people call their friends off the T-Mobile network. Change the slogan to “connecting people” or something along those lines. Something that shows off the phone, their network and people getting together having a good time.

Verizon = Droid

In an attempt to take down the iPhone, Verizon has decided to ridicule its carrier, AT&T and Apple.

Verizon is known for expensive plans and the “Can you hear me now?” commercials, but as of late the word Droid has become synonymous with Motorola and Verizon.

Many customers have complained about Verizon’s lack of “cool” phones and the way they handicap their phones by making you pay extra for features others get free.

However, with two Android based system, the Gestapo-like carrier is taking a big step in letting the Motorola DROID define Verizon as a carrier.

Not to mention their push behind the Open Hand Alliance (OHA).

Before the Droid, the most exciting phone in their line up was the HTC Touch Pro 2. A phone that every carrier has. But with Droid, Verizon has the most advanced released Android phone to date.

It’s running Android 2.0. -First.
ARM Cortex 550MHz processor – The most powerful cpu with Android.
3.7″ touch screen. – The largest screen on any Android.
5MP camera with dual LED flash – Best flash of any android.
Google free turn by turn navigation. -First.
And the most 3G coverage in the states.

Based on reviews the Droid is comparable if not more capable than the iPhone. It has all the features except the multitouch function, which is disabled for some daft reason.

Sprint = Palm

oompa_loompaOh Sprint! One of those Goodbye Songs should be written about half of your advertising/marketing department. Though I must confess to liking their Now Network commercials, the lack of “A” product has really back fired on Sprint. The CDMA carrier had pent up all of its pennies on the Palm Pre and its Oompa Loompa sized keyboard. However, expected numbers for Pre sales are said to be less than stellar. Not to mention that Sprint has lost over 50,000 customers in the last year.

Currently, Sprint has two Android based phones, the Sprint Hero and Samsung Moment. None of which Sprint has done commercials for or any type of real advertising. Well, unless you count a press release and this yet to be aired commercial.

The Sprint Hero is one of the best selling phones and was the most talked about Android Phone for a better half of the year.

I can see how low sales on the Pre can make a struggling company think twice about associating itself with a product, but don’t handicap your product by just letting word of mouth be your advertising.

The phone has gathered great reviews. Reviewers have generally praised the Sense UI and the phone’s solid build. Why not jump on your own phone’s bandwagon? Don’t just sell it short by stating the Hero has “a thousand of apps” and that it’s “customizable.” The phone does what the Pre does with less horsepower and more apps.

Call it vanity or excitement, but carriers are realizing that people will pay a ridiculous amount of money for a phone they like. They’ll even pay a $200 early termination fee from one carrier to pay $200 more on a new phone and a more expensive plan.

It seems the light calling the mosquitoes is not the features a carrier provides, but rather how “cool” a phone is represents how profitable a carrier will become.

Writers update:
1. Clearing up the multi-touch statement above. Though the phone itself does allow for multi-touch to be used through 3rd party apps, Google has not integrated the multi-touch functions into their browser and Google like products.

Google Phone By HTC – Early 2010?

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  1. Funny thing is, this is all having the opposite affects that the carriers want. They have been trying to make themselves out to be more than dumb pipes for years. Now that devices rule the game, they are reducing themselves to dumb pipes. Kinda ironic huh?

  2. YES! I get to be the first post!
    (i don’t have a life)

  3. lol

  4. The Droid is the only reason I stayed with Verizon. I love this phone. Before, if you mentioned Verizon, there was nothing but hate filled comments made about them. With Verizon’s new phone line coming up, it’s suddenly okay to be a fanboy.

  5. @A Man:

    I’ll have to agree with you there. My contract was up with Verizon when the CLIQ was announced, and at the time, the Sholes did not impress me. Fortunately for Verizon, before the CLIQ launched, the got The Force behind them and proceeded with all manner of Droid badassery. It was enough to keep me here and if the Droid 2.0 LTE is just as awesome, here I’ll stay.

  6. Please stop reporting that the droid does not do multi-touch. Check out the app “PicSay” pinch zoom in and out works flawlessly. They left out pinch zoom in the browser and many of the apps are not taking advantage, but it does work and is enabled.

  7. The Sprint commercial ran last week during NFL football, which is a pretty big audience to go after. I think Sprint’s biggest challenge is they committed too hard to Palm and need to figure out how to walk away slowly.

    I’m loving my Hero, and really do wish they’d push it a bit harder.

  8. I have been considering Droid and still do. But I think I rather wait till the GSM version comes to T-mobile or AT&T so I can get a phone that I can use in europe as well.

  9. V is for victory and V is for Verizon!!! Love’em – just love’em!!!

  10. @Clems

    I think when most people say the Droid doesn’t do multi-touch, they are referring to native apps. You cannot use multi-touch in the browser or when using the onscreen keyboard.

  11. @A man
    Thanks, exactly what I was going to say. I didn’t say it didn’t support it. I wrote it was disabled.

  12. The pinch zoom was left out of US Droids to avoid a lawsuit. There is no technical reason why it can’t work, and Google won’t stop a 3rd party developer ingenious enough to find a workaround.

  13. Yes, carriers have been reduced to dumb pipes. Now the race is on to have the fattest dumb pipes, and be first to market. HSPA+ LTE Wimax take your pic.

  14. @robfactory
    but it wasnt disabled. it’s just not included in the native applications. there is a difference. i understand what you meant, but new or uninformed readers wont.

  15. I finally saw a cliq commercial from tmob. It actually showed what android is capable of. Its about time they did this.

  16. “10. A man wrote on November 19, 2009


    I think when most people say the Droid doesn’t do multi-touch, they are referring to native apps. You cannot use multi-touch in the browser or when using the onscreen keyboard.”

    All apps have multi-touch. You can very easily press 2 places at once and have both presses registered by the UI as independent presses. That’s multi-touch. Pinching and stretching is a feature of multi-touch. One that is very heavily patented in the US of A by some company named Apple.

  17. Actually, that commercial from Sprint has been aired, I’ve seen it recently a few times now.

  18. I don’t live in the US, so all I can do is drool at the Droid from afar. But I have to say that despite all its coolness and power, despite all the new phones coming up or which have been introduced, I can still say I’m very happy with my HTC Hero (not the Sprint one).

    So I’m all for Sprint promoting the Hero more heavily. More people should know about it! It really is a good phone. More than that, I actually get pleasant vibes using it, as in, the user experience is top-rate.

  19. @T

    You’ve clearly never used the Droid. I never defined multi-touch as “pinch-to-zoom” specifically, or even at all for that matter. You also failed to read the full comment. If you press two keys on the Droid’s onboard keyboard it only acknowledges one of the keys. Not all apps have multi-touch.

    The thought that Apple has patented “pinch-to-zoom” is somewhat silly. Though Apple has several multi-touch patents, “pinch-to-zoom” is not one of them. There are plenty of other manufacturers that include the multi-touch gesture, “pinch-to-zoom”, and if Apple had patented it we would see lawsuits against them. If Apple failed to react then they would endanger the credit of the patent, and it would basically die (poof goes the patent, and the wasted opportunity cost of even filing for it). Have we seen any lawsuits against HTC for the “pinch-to-zoom” gesture in their browser? Nope.

    Whatever the reason is behind Google not putting “pinch-to-zoom” in their native apps is a mystery. The bottom line, and only thing that matters, is that Google did not include multi-touch in their native apps here in the US, but they did make the Droid multi-touch capable.

  20. Btw, here is a little reading material for this subject specifically.


  21. @A man:

    Just playing devil’s advocate here: how do we know those other companies implementing pinch to zoom didn’t licence the patent from Apple? Or have some sort of understanding with Apple? USA patent laws seem to allow the patenting of the strangest things that might not be patentable elsewhere.

  22. haha yea…it’s actually legal to patent a living organism these days – as long as it’s not a human being. crazy yanks.

  23. @asqwerth
    This could be a logical explanation, but the fact remains, we still have not documentation or proof that Apple has a patent on pinch-to-zoom. Engadget couldn’t find any, and they’re a pretty reputable source. If Apple did have a patent, Google’s strange behavior on the subject would make more sense. Unless something has changed since Engadget posted that, the only thing I can see happening is Google and Apple making some sort of agreement behind-the-scenes to not use pinch-to-zoom for whatever reason. I wasn’t trying to come off as if I truly had an answer for lack of multi-touch for native apps in my above comment. It does seem clear that Apple doesn’t have a patent for pinch-to-zoom, though. Or have at least decided to hide it very, very well if they do (for reasoning only God would know).

  24. I am so happy this is not the case here (in Norway) and other countries in Europe. I can take my Android, and switch to whatever telco-operator I want. I can go into any mobile-phone store (or other electonics-store) and buy any phone I’d like with whatever subscription I want.
    Ofcourse there are branded stores supported by different telcos, but they all have the same phones, and the versatility is great.

    The operators compete when it comes to price, different services (free calls to anyone in your family, free 3g evenings and weekends…) and coverage. And you can get a really cheap phone if you buy i.e. a one year subscription, but all phones work fine on any network.
    Just change the sim-card.

  25. Haha, that sounds too good to ever become a reality here in America. We’ll see what happens when LTE comes out, though. :D

  26. I have been on Sprint for about 12 years and have always had excellent phone and data(3G) performance. Now, I am not a world traveller, but, everywhere I have gone in the U.S. (including Hawaii) I have found great Sprint service. I have yet to find another carrier with plans that are better. So, I don’t understand the references on all of the blogs are to AT&T, Verizon and TMO and no one mentions Sprint. Granted, they have been a little slow in getting Android phones, but so was Verizon. I see Sprint advertising all of the time in Southern California, maybe this is the only place they advertise??

  27. @MVTom
    I think the reason people put down Sprint is because of their horrible customer service reps (csr). If they knew how to be polite and treat people like a valued customer, most of ex sprint users wouldn’t have left/complained so much.
    I think that’s a major difference between Sprint and T-Mo. T-Mo doesn’t have the best coverage, and God knows their 3G coverage resembles the development in a 3rd world country, but they know how to deal with their customers and make them happy.
    Though I’ve heard Sprint has improved their CS in the last year people still have a bad perception based on their exp. and word of mouth.

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