U.S. Cellular. If You Can’t Afford The iPhone, Just Say It.

  • December 5, 2011 8:22 pm

When news first broke that U.S. Cellular, the United States’ 6th largest carrier, turned down the iPhone, rumors ran rampant. After the dust settled a bit, U.S. Cellular came forward to set the record straight — Apple’s terms were “unacceptable”.

In reality, the terms weren’t all that nefarious. Apple simply requires a large upfront purchase of iPhones which the carrier then earns profit on in the long-term. U.S. Cellular being the smaller carrier that they are (and in the process of rolling out LTE) probably didn’t have the required cash to complete such a large purchase.

Today, however, U.S. Cellular’s position became more ridiculous with TDS (U.S. Cellular parent company) CEO Ted Carlson said the iPhone “wasn’t cutting edge enough”. …

Speaking at the UBS 39th Annual Global Media and Communications Conference, Mr. Carlson made quite the statement regarding the iPhone’s less than cutting edge feature set:

“We’re never going to say never about the iPhone. The iPhone for us would need to be at the cutting edge of where we’re going, and then there might be an opportunity to consider it.” U.S. Cellular revealed last month that it had the opportunity to sell the current, non-LTE iteration of the iPhone but decided against it because it was not the right economic fit for the regional carrier.”

Alright. So the iPhone doesn’t have LTE — a direction U.S. Cellular is admittingly going. That obviously doesn’t matter as it is the best selling smartphone on the market. What’s more puzzling (and we’ll admit, humorous) is that while Carlson nitpicks over small shortcomings on the iPhone, his carrier is still allowing absolutely god awful Android phones to ship grossly outdated versions of Android that would make us blush 12 months ago — as brand new phones today.

U.S. Cellular: If you can’t afford the iPhone. Just say it. Making baseless comments on the record makes you look pretty silly and just doesn’t hold much weight.

  • Via: 9to5Mac

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    • Disappointed in the USA

      Although the professionalism on how US Cellular handled it’s response when declining the iPhone 4s, I am in complete agreement with their decision. Bottom line is Apple has failed to deliver a phone able to function on 4G LTE technology. Fortunately for Apple, the masses are still drinking their cool-aid.

      My hat is off to US Cellular for sending Apple a well desrved and over due wake up call. The 4G LTE market has arrived with a list of devices capable of using it. Hello Apple! Wake up!!!! Where is our iPhone 5??

      • http://www.gadgetsteria.com The Gadgeteur

        Apple hasn’t “failed” by not releasing an LTE handset. Up until late summer, LTE coverage (in the U.S.) wasn’t all that spectacular. It’s stupid to add cost to a phone with LTE hardware web few can take advantage of it. On top of that, current LTE hardware is rather large and inefficient. Apple is waiting for a bigger market and better LTE hardware (coming next year)

      • http://www.gadgetsteria.com The Gadgeteur

        And the iPhone 5 (fifth generation) is already here. It’s the 4S.

    • http://twitter.com/TuneUp4Windows Alexandra Lawrenz

      Mike, you’re right, this sounds like a bit of a stretch for U.S.
      Cellular since the iPhone is known to be cutting-edge! While still somewhat of
      a stretch, at least they can fall back on their claim by saying it doesn’t have
      LTE-which is true. Do you think the iPhone will introduce this aspect in the
      near future?

    • Engineer10388

      Lighten up Mike.  Whether or not US Cellular could afford a huge commitment to the current iteration of the iPhone, it was absolutely the right decision for them, as the expense would have jeopardized their ability to continue the customer perks that set them apart from the big four.  I recently left big V after being with them for many years, and jumped to US Cellular (Motorola Electrify).  The iPhone is nice but no phone is enough to make up for overpriced plans and unappreciative corporate attitude toward their employees and customers alike.  We switched just after our bill ran and they would not even refund any of the mostly unused month.

      USCellular has consistently ranked the highest in customer satisfaction by a rather wide margin and that was what sold me.  The ability to get a new phone in as little as 10 months…at the contract price but without a new or extended contract…is very refreshing.   Free battery exchange is another plus.  I travel extensively in my work, all over the US, and can’t tell any difference in network coverage except for the fact USC seems to be better in some rural areas than I previously experienced with big V.  By the way, your review of the Motorola Electrify was spot on.  A great, great Android phone with very little bloatware and available from US Cellular for just $99 last month.

    • http://twitter.com/joeavargas Joe Vargas

      I’m beginning to think that “Guy” is actually Ted Carlson trying to post anonymously.

    • Guy

      U.S. Cellular: If you can’t afford the iPhone. Just say it. Making baseless comments on the record makes you look pretty silly and just doesn’t hold much weight.——————-
      I would say you look silly by making such claims when if you look at US Cellular’s financials, they most certainly could afford the iphone.  In fact genius they happen to have industry leading churn and ARPU, so please explain to everyone why they should make an unreasonable commitment (see Sprint) to carry a phone that wouldn’t turn a profit for them for at least 2 years?  

      Not too nefarious?  You really have no clue. You think Sprint is going to last long with their iphone deal?  Did you happen to notice where their stock went after that deal was announced? 

      You apple fans are so sensitive.  Get over it!   

      • http://www.gadgetsteria.com The Gadgeteur

        You’re missing the point. U.S. Cellular is pushing it off as the iPhone not beig cutting edge enough — yet they continue to buy new Android phones with hardware that was outdated over a year ago.

        As for the iPhone not being profitable for 2+ years — where’s the risk? The iPhone 4 is still selling like hotcakes. And then there’s the iPhone 3GS — a phone that is over 2 years old — that has been a very popular handset to date as well even after iPhone 4 and 4S.

        I don’t see how they wouldn’t make a profit.

        • Desouza Phillip

          I agree with you that this was not the best statement to be made. Regardless, just because the phone is selling like crazy doesn’t mean it is profitable. Sprint does not expect to recoup costs for this year until 2015 at the earliest. That’s four years, and it doesn’t include purchasing the newest iterations of the iPhone every year. It costs wireless carriers money to bring in customers at the beginning of a contract; they don’t begin to recoup the costs until mid-3/4 through the contract. So it doesn’t make financial sense and its not an instant profit. This is even more critical with a company the size of US Cellular that doesn’t have the capital to aggressively invest in LTE in the future and sustain massive iPhone purchases.

          Regardless, not the best thing in the world to say.