I’m in the center of the cell phone world today as I’m speaking at the CTIA Wireless 2011 conference in Orlando, but we’re all being overshadowed here by AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile.
This is being touted a shock wave because it will leave just three big players in the market – AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. But my first reaction is that it means another poor brand has failed, as they always do.
I’m not so worried that a choice has been taken away from me because I never would have chosen T-Mobile anyway. It has been a troublesome brand at best. Its “Stick Together” brand is wrongheaded because you’d have to believe that everyone is pulling us apart in order to want to “stay together.” And its recent marketing campaign mocking the style of the Apple’s great “I’m PC. I’m Apple” spots only helps the competition because it looks so desperate (and overly clever).
There are, of course, worries that the increasing consolidation of the market will lead to less innovation and the less choices can stagnate a market. But the competition between the big carriers is fierce, among the most competitive and either of the three would be scared not to keep up.
In addition, consumers demand innovation so much that providers, including the forward-thinking phone makers such as Google and Apple, can’t innovate fast enough.
No, I don’t think consumers will suffer all that much from this, although it does creep closer to the days when there was only the Bell System controlling land lines. It is the natural progression of things because the T-Mobile brand wasn’t going to survive anyway.