Carrier exclusives can be disappointing, but they can spell big business for the companies. Given the right carrier choice, the OEM can see a lift in sales for their product and quite possibly even gain some easy marketing. Given the right phone, a carrier can see a rise in subscribers. Although Sony is pretty much absent from the U.S. market in terms of smartphones, here’s why choosing T-Mobile as an exclusive carrier to offer their newest flagship was a smart choice over other OEM’s.
T-mobile may not have the largest network in terms of subscribers, but they do have the fastest growing network in terms of subscribers. T-Mobile has consecutively added more subscribers to their network for at least the last few quarters, which opens up plenty of potential growth for Sony. It’s true that perhaps putting the phone on multiple networks could have given Sony more of a chance at selling the Z3, but if they had to choose just one T-Mobile seems to be the best choice, and with larger networks like AT&T and Verizon both those carriers already have a large marketing push towards other brands, Apple’s iPhone being one of them. Those carriers also don’t allow for upgrades as often. T-Mobile on the other hand has competitive sets of plan offerings that make it easy for customers to get their hands on new phones, with upgrade availability happening often through T-mobile’s Jump which lets you upgrade every six months, and although Sony isn’t releasing a new flagship every six months, they are releasing a new one twice a year, which fits nicely into the “upgrade anytime you want” mantra and time frame that T-Mobile has been spinning.
Throwing up the Z3 onto T-Mobile’s network now leaves Jump customers open to swap out and potentially get the Z4 when it releases, considering Sony launches it on T-Mobile like they’re doing with the Z3. Before I get ahead of myself though, let’s get back to the Z3 itself. Sony has the opportunity to really market themselves with T-Mobile. T-Mobile has an extremely outspoken CEO, and they’re often in the media. I think it’s safe to say that they are probably talked about more than other carriers right now. With potentially more press than the other big 3 wireless providers, Sony has an opportunity for the Xperia Z3 to get more press also, and more exposure is definitely something they need for their handsets in the U.S. market. Besides exposure, and the potential for plenty of new fans of the Sony brand thanks to T-Mobile’s continued growth, if the Xperia Z3 becomes a hit on the T-Mobile network they can set themselves up for a launch of the Z4 next year, and thus have gained what could be a large number of new customers. This of course could depend on how well they market the Xperia Z3. If the Z3 is a hit with customers that are on Jump, and if Sony releases the Z4 on T-Mobile as well, they’re opening up an opportunity for subscribers to update, assuming those customers haven’t already used two upgrades that year.
They could have chosen AT&T as an exclusive carrier offering, as they do have more subscribers, but as the exclusivity on the Amazon Fire phone has taught us, just having a large subscriber base like AT&T doesn’t guarantee that you’ll sell a lot of phones. There’s more to it than that. It also feels like Sony could be looking at more than just trying to sell a lot of phones with the Z3 too though, like they might be attempting to set themselves up for an increased number in future device sales of yet unreleased products, which the combination of T-Mobile’s fast growth and the Jump program for upgrading multiple times in a year can offer. That is if they play their cards right, and if T-Mobile continues adding the most subscribers on a quarterly basis like they have been doing.