Note: originally published at The Breakery.
I read an article recently about T-Mobile's pace of net sub additions vs. Sprint's, and it occurred to me that many analysts and spectators might be unaware of the third, very important player in that drama: CellBreaker.com—the third wheel—is rapidly taking subs away from both Sprint and T-Mobile, but mostly Sprint.
Why CellBreaker Is Important
CellBreaker is important for tracking this drama, because the lost subs CellBreaker is taking away from T-Mobile and Sprint happen independent of whichever maneuvers T-Mobile and Sprint decide to aim at each other. T-Mobile might discover an answer to the competitive threat from Sprint and Sprint an answer to T-Mobile, but neither have an answer for CellBreaker—that is, if they fail to keep their customers happy, and I'll wager that you, Mr./Mrs. reader, know a few unhappy customers of both carriers.
This partly explains why CellBreaker ended 2014 on a tear, adding 2700 new users in Q4 alone.
Oh the drama . . .
In any case, the drama excites even me. In addition to the purely competitive reasons—the same reasons for which I love to watch a gritty, evenly matched basketball game—there's this: the Babe called his shot but missed. The Babe, in this case, is T-Mobile's brash CEO John Legere. "I predict the uncarrier will overtake Sprint in total customers by the end of the year! There, I said it!," Legere tweeted in August 2014. Well, that didn't happen. Legere whiffed.
With 2014 behind us and T-Mobile still trailing Sprint, Legere is now cushioning that erroneous prediction by saying that "it will definitely happen in 2015," which sounds similar to gems like "50% percent of the time it works every time" or "I predict that your baby will be either a boy or a girl."
But here's really why the drama is so fun to watch. Sprint runs weird talking-animal commercials that feature such lines as "somebody call a doctor, 'cause I got a boogie fever," and Legere, for one, is not above grabbing this low-hanging fruit (hell, I would grab it too if I were taller).
Legere poking fun at Sprint's latest promotions:
Sprint will continue throwing out campaigns, offers and promotions—anything to see if it sticks. It'll be confusing as hell. Somewhere mid-year, they'll realize they can't slash their way to growth and start to invest in their network and customer care.
Legere poking fun at Sprint's weird commercials:
They'll have at least two more ad spots featuring animals—like the hamster or screaming goat, and since they like to recycle Internet memes, my money is on a honey-badger spot.
Despite Legere's history of incorrect predictions, I would not take the other side of that bet.