You may have noticed recently that T-Mobile’s new CEO John Legere has been shaking up the mobile phone service carrier business quite a bit lately. T-Mobile just recently announced free unlimited international roaming for data and text messaging services; something that has been unheard of until now. And even more recently, they’ve announced free LTE data plans for tablets that will give you 200Mb of data per month for life. That’s another crazy awesome thing that’s never been done before. They’ve also totally dropped the old contract-model where carriers would try to trick you into thinking the phone was inexpensive, but then they’d build in extra expense into the service plans. This is all part of T-Mobile’s “Uncarrier” initiative that intends to show customers that T-Mobile is doing something completely different. They’re not just jogging along with the other bigger carriers trying to catch up… they’re going in a totally different direction and hopefully their new direction will be something people might like. So far it seems to be doing pretty well. According to Legere “Since the launch of Uncarrier 1 [in March], we’ve added more phone customers than AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint combined. This isn’t a fluke, people are really capturing this.”
T-Mobile’s “Uncarrier” thing sounds a lot like a marketing campaign that 7-Up used to differentiate itself from the two most popular carbonated beverages; Coca-Cola and Pepsi. 7-Up is the “Uncola”. As seen in 7-Up’s history page, “The UNCOLA campaign set 7UP apart from its competition and became part of a counter cultural that symbolized being true to yourself and challenging the status quo.”
John Legere is definitely challenging the status quo with T-Mobile USA as well! You’ll notice that many of the things he says even at press conferences are not really family friendly and would likely be censored on network television, but the big thing T-Mobile is about right now is exposing the wireless carrier industry to make their competitors look greedy and incompetent while at the same time giving you some big reasons to switch services.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone smartphone operating system is another underdog that has nowhere near the recognition or popularity of the two largest smartphone ecosystems; Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Its design is very unique however and it certainly has some unique advantages as well, but Microsoft doesn’t really capitalize on those nearly as much as T-Mobile or 7-Up have done. Where are the ads that show us why you should get excited about Windows Phone? Sure we’ve seen a lot of ads about the Nokia Lumia 1020’s 41 megapixel camera, but now people think that’s the only good thing about it. The public perception is that everything else about Windows Phone is sub-par, but that’s not necessarily true. There are many parts of Windows Phone’s operating system and ecosystem that are unmatched on other platforms.
Microsoft doesn’t even promote their biggest selling smartphone at all! The Nokia Lumia 521/520 is the best selling Windows Phone around the world. There are some very significant advantages to that phone; cheap removable battery, rugged construction, free offline music, free offline GPS navigation, expandable storage, etc… and, best of all, you can get it for $99 without a subsidized contract. You can get 7 of those smartphones for the price of an iPhone 5C. So what does the smartphone underdog have to do to shake things up?
In many ways, Windows Phone already has “redefined the smartphone,” but not many people really know it and that’s the problem. Or maybe the smartphone just hasn’t been reinvented enough just yet.