How karaoke explains the wireless industry, in 1 telling quote

January 8

T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere at a company event in New York last July. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters file photo)

T-Mobile CEO John Legere has a reputation for ruffling feathers with his aggressive style and provocative language. But at his company's news conference Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show, Legere ribbed his opponents in a way that reveals a lot about his position in the industry.

"Have you guys ever done karaoke?" Legere asked the audience. "The rule in karaoke is that when someone sucks — go next."

Call it expert trolling, but it's easy to see why Legere thinks bad, competitive singing is the appropriate analogy here. Americans hate pretty much everything about the wireless industry — from being tied into a contract to facing stiff penalties and charges for going out of bounds.

In the wake of its failed merger with AT&T, T-Mobile's new strategy is different from the game the big incumbents have been playing to date, according to Legere. And that means virtually anything T-Mobile does is going to make it look good while making the other carriers look bad.

Whether this is an accurate characterization of the industry is up for debate. But at the very least, it sums up Legere's logic pretty succinctly.

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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Brian Fung · January 8