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New 5G iPhone launches carrier poaching season

Smartphone shoppers may be slow to notice how Apple is Of a corporation

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The new 5G-enabled iPhone improves the internet connectivity used by older models, but mobile operators are working overtime to recognize it.

Advertising campaigns are driven not only by technology but also by economics. Most Americans already own one or two smartphones, so adding customers is usually done at the expense of a competitor. A rare opportunity for three major mobile network operators to start building 5G networks differently and achieve something unique, even if they still can’t provide the speed and consistency promised by new technologies. Provided.

Apple unveiled four new iPhone 12 models at a virtual event on Tuesday. They all feature 5G, innovative designs, and new camera tricks, but they differ in important ways. The WSJ’s Joanna Stern disassembles it. Photo Illustration: Laura Kammermann / WSJ

“The network is different for the first time,” said Cliff Maldonado, chief analyst at BayStreet Research. “5G is a great time to justify a career switch.”

Relying on its number one market share and reach for a long time, Verizon has begun installing 5G in cities and is now catching up in rural areas. Ten years ago, a relatively small urban operator, T-Mobile is now the second largest provider in the United States, promoting rural 5G expansion. And AT & T, not known for discounts, introduced this week an aggressive savings offer that mimics some of the old T-Mobile advertising languages.

Each provider is committed to 5G to give customers an edge when buying new phones. Telephone switching is the most common time for carriers to acquire or lose subscribers.

The battle for customers between carriers will benefit Apple by paying more attention to the device. Apple investors are already convinced that the introduction of the iPhone 12 will reverse the company’s recent trend of peak sales in the first large-screen version in fiscal year 2015.

Investors boosted the company’s market value to $ 2 trillion, believing that new technologies designed to improve the quality of initial features such as video chat, online games and augmented reality will drive customer upgrades. ..

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T-Mobile US has historically been quick to offer significant discounts, but this week instead focused on the speed and accessibility of 5G networks. A carrier in Bellevue, Washington strengthened its system with assets acquired from Sprint earlier this year.

T-Mobile’s technology chief, Neville Ray, said Verizon’s early investment in faster millimeter-wave services, which usually cover very small areas, “has a treasure hunt to find these 5G speeds. “Must” said it would disappoint Verizon’s customers.

Verizon expanded the list of areas covered by these high-frequency signals on Tuesday, supporting the fastest downloads on the market, but rarely exceeding hundreds of yards. Carriers rely more on “dynamic spectrum sharing” than their rivals to extend their coverage outside of these hotspots.

Spectrum sharing technology allows network operators to mix old 4G signals with new 5G transmissions within the same radio channel. This is a trade-off for improved coverage at the expense of ultra-fast download speeds.

The importance of the US market was demonstrated on Tuesday when Verizon CEO Hans Bestberg joined Apple executives to promote the new device. The US iPhone 12 model is the only Apple handset that supports millimeter-wave traffic.

Ronan Dunne, Verizon’s head of consumer, said the frequency would only enhance basic 5G services available to customers across the country. Millimeter-wave services are only included in the carrier’s premium pricing plans, but Dan said all 5G phones will have better connectivity to Verizon’s network.

Top offer to AT & T customers with a focus on price. The promotion, announced on Tuesday, offered a free iPhone if new and existing customers used an unlimited data plan and traded in certain older smartphones.

The Dallas company pitched said the deal was an “uncomplicated wireless” upgrade, reflecting the “no carrier” event that was once the flagship of T-Mobile’s advertising campaign. A similar offer has been applied to the new Samsung phone.

A costly promotion (iPhone 12 Pro Max model sold for $ 1,099 in the US) benefits AT & T by giving subscribers a reason to continue service while the carrier covers installments for 30 months. Brings. It also helps media and carriers incorporate more products, such as HBO Max streaming services, into their customers’ plans. The AT & T promotion could apply to up to 25 million customers, said Roger Entner of telecommunications researcher Recon Analytics Inc.

T-Mobile responded Wednesday with several promotions, including up to $ 500 off the new iPhone 12 model for specific customers. Verizon headlined the Apple event on Tuesday, offering some new customers their own free iPhone offer and significant discounts to existing subscribers.

Discounts come with hidden costs. Each offer guides customers to the carrier’s more expensive unlimited data plans. This approach is reminiscent of the old subsidy model that boosted the rise of the iPhone over a decade ago. In this model, providers regularly paid for the cost of new Apple devices in exchange for more than two years of reliable revenue from contracted customers.

In recent years, telemarketing has slowed as customers in many markets spend more time waiting for smartphone upgrades.

Wave7 Research analyst Jeff Moore said these older iPhones and Android smartphones could increase demand for newer ones, but it’s not 5G technology that opens the lock.

“5G will undoubtedly be a key component of the iPhone 12 launch hype,” Moore said. “Will it radically change the way you interact with your smartphone? No.5G isn’t that innovative.”

Kevin Haddad, 69, who lives near Los Angeles, said he wasn’t ready to upgrade his phone because there were too few apps and services to use the technology. “If I have the service I need, my phone has been in use for three years now and I can upgrade it,” he said.

Until then, he said he would continue to use current devices and the wireless carrier AT & T. “The reason I was particular about AT & T in the first place is that AT & T was the only provider in my area,” he said. “That’s why I got my first iPhone. I was at AT & T. But I don’t know. I have no plans to switch. I don’t like change anymore.”

Write to Drew Fitz Gerald at andrew.fitzgerald@wsj.com and Tim Higgins at Tim.Higgins@WSJ.com

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