More Pieces Of Impossible

On his company’s earnings conference call back on Valentine’s Day, T-Mobile CEO John Legere was unusually feisty. Never known for shyness, Legere had reason behind his bluster. T-Mobile had practically built itself up on price, being left the bottom tier of the wireless space practically to itself. That all changed, however, as both Verizon and Sprint were set to escalate the wireless price war.

Welcome to the game Verizon, let’s compete on price, let’s compete on network. We’re playing from a position of strength. Unlimited is who we are.

It was another of Legere’s statements, however, that has proved more intriguing. From T-Mobile’s perspective, the competition did seem a little panicked, in what “[could] only be deemed desperation.”

Many expected this price war to be settled rather quickly. It is for each company a destructive affair that in an open-ended format creates more disturbance than assurance. Shares of both Sprint and Verizon have sunk this year even though overall the stock market performs well. And still there is no end in sight, as unlimited plans now proliferate even more.

There are at root, of course, technological and demographic changes underneath. The old way of telecoms through cable and even satellite is steadily giving way to streaming and mobile. Customers are up for grabs. The idea of “cutting the cord” has never been so realistic and even easy, and it will only get better from here for consumers.

Like “brick and mortar” retailers, however, there does seem to be something else behind all the desperation, as John Legere boasted. There may be network parity, or at least enough network parity, but in 2017 price has taken the top consideration in much more than wireless telephony. Consumers have become suddenly fickle about goods and services that were even in this last decade almost untouchable.

Perhaps Apple Computer’s recent struggles are a good example. In their second quarter earnings statement, released in May, the company reported just 50.8 million iPhones sold, down from 51.2 million in its Q2 2016. For CY 2016, Apple reported its first ever decline in iPhone sales. The latest 7 plus model was supposed to reinvigorate demand, but outside of Q4 2016 it hasn’t, with the slump renewing very quickly after launch.

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Disclosure: This material has been distributed fo or informational purposes only. It is the opinion of the author and should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any ...

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