T-Mobile: iPhone drove one of the biggest weekends ever for us

T-Mobile's marketing chief, Mike Sievert, declines to give numbers, but says iPhone sales exceeded the carrier's "ambitious internal goals."

T-Mobile's happy to be carrying the iPhone now. This sales manager at a T-Mobile store appears to be happy about it too. Roger Cheng/CNET

T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert boasted that the carrier had "one of its biggest weekends in the history of the company" thanks to the launch of the iPhone on Friday.

T-Mobile on Friday launched the iPhone in its stores for the first time, finally catching up to its larger rivals, and even smaller regional carriers. Sievert told CNET that iPhone sales did better than he expected, although he declined to provide specific figures.

"We had really ambitious internal goals, and we beat them," he said.

The iPhone is important to T-Mobile in multiple ways. It finally puts the carrier at parity with the rest of the industry; it helps bring in new customers and retain consumers; and it has a marquee product with which to pitch its "Uncarrier" strategy of ditching subsidies and contracts.

Sievert said there were lines outside the doors of its 3,000 stores -- although CNET observed that some of the lines were fairly short -- a testament to the appeal of the iPhone combined with its new service plans. The plan includes a lower service fee and upfront cost for the iPhone 5, but requires a monthly payment to cover the total cost of the phone.

A vast majority of customers who signed up for the new iPhone signed onto the new no-contract plans, Sievert said.

But don't hold your breath for iPhone sales figures to come soon. Due to the April launch, specific numbers likely won't come until after T-Mobile's second-quarter report, Sievert said. It reports first-quarter results in early May.

The iPhone launch last week occurred the same day that Verizon Wireless announced that its customers wouldn't be able to upgrade their devices until the full life of their contract is done, or after 24 months, meaning customers have to wait four months longer before they can change their phones at the subsidized rate.

It's a change that T-Mobile couldn't resist pointing out.

"Verizon is amazingly successful," Sievert said. "This was a move that will further fatten their already fat wallet. But I question whether consumers will really appreciate it."

 

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