T-Mobile’s CEO goes on a rant about Amazon’s rumored smartphone


John Legere, chief executive and president of T-Mobile USA, at a 2013 media event. (John Moore/Getty Images)

AT&T will be the exclusive carrier of the smartphone Amazon.com is expected to unveil Wednesday, according to the Wall Street Journal. And T-Mobile chief executive officer John Legere is none too happy about it.

(Disclosure: Amazon.com chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos is the owner of the Washington Post.) 

In a series tweets posted Tuesday afternoon, Legere slammed the move -- likening the rumored decision to the flopped HTC First "Facebook phone" partnership and lamenting it as limiting consumer choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legere, who spent nearly 20 years of his career working his way up the ranks at AT&T, has cultivated a rebellious image since taking the top executive slot at T-Mobile USA in September 2012. The CEO forsakes suit and tie for a trademark pink T-Mobile T-shirt underneath a blazer or leather jacket, and he seems to relish creating outrageous headlines. For instance, last year he crashed (and was kicked out of) AT&T's CES developer party -- reportedly out of a desire to watch Macklemore and Ryan Lewis perform.

But Legere's personal antics are also mirrored by some of the aggressive growth tactics the company has introduced during his tenure under the "uncarrier" banner -- including doing away with service contracts and phone subsidies, offering free international data roaming, and offering to pay early termination fees for customers switching to the carrier.

The campaign has resulted in customer gains, but the company hasn't yet seen that growth reflected in its revenue. So T-Mobile remains a bit of a scrappy underdog -- a fourth place finisher battling to tempt customers away from the competition, while rumors swirl about an acquisition by third-place Sprint.

Meanwhile, AT&T remains the second largest mobile carrier in the United States -- and no stranger to Amazon or exclusive arrangements. AT&T currently provides wireless service to the online retailer's Kindle tablets and e-readers. In addition to the Facebook phone fiasco, AT&T was the exclusive carrier of Apple's iPhone for its first few years on the market.

Obviously, if the rumored Amazon smartphone is successful, being cut out of the deal could be bad news for T-Mobile. But Legere might also be worried that an Amazon exclusive partnership with AT&T will overshadow the company's own "uncarrier" announcement scheduled for Wednesday. T-Mobile already relocated its event from Los Angeles to Seattle so technology journalists would not have to choose between it and Amazon's hardware announcement.

(Correction: An earlier version of this story described erroneously AT&T as the largest wireless carrier in the U.S. It is the second largest after Verizon.) 

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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