T-Mobile CEO John Legere is one of my favorite people in high tech right now. Not only is he doing a great job of turning T-Mobile business around, but in an industry that’s often dominated by buzzwords and corporate speak, he may just be the most publicly outspoken executive since Steve Jobs.
During Recode’s Code/Mobile event yesterday, Legere took the stage to talk about a few topics key to T-Mobile’s turnaround — and, wouldn’t you know it, the iPhone was mentioned pretty heavily.
Legere mentioned that his explicit instructions upon taking over as T-Mobile CEO was to “get down on your knees” and grovel to get the iPhone on his network, which he finally managed (the deal that is, presumably not the literal grovelling) in April 2013. The strategy apparently paid off, too, since the iPhone now accounts for 20% of the carrier’s smartphone base.
Legere also talked about the demand for the iPhone 6 Plus, which just about everyone (including Apple) seems to have underestimated. Legere called it “surprising” and said that, “I can’t really give specific details on current ratios, but at one point, sales of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were roughly equal, which no one anticipated.”
He says that supply is now starting to reach demand for new iPhone handsets, although it will “be a while” before T-Mobile can get the devices to everyone who wants to buy one.
Finally, Legere addressed the new Apple SIM controversy, which is designed to allow customers to switch between providers on the Cellular versions of the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, although it hasn’t exactly been embraced by all of T-Mobile’s rivals.
Legere says that customers should buy their new iPads through Apple, and then activate them with T-Mobile, on the basis that AT&T and Verizon “didn’t go along with Apple’s vision for flexibility.”
The interview followed T-Mobile’s announced earnings for the September quarter. While the company posted a surprising net profit loss, it also added 2.3 million customers (1.4 million postpaid), which makes the three month period the biggest growth quarter in T-Mobile history.