Wireless provider T-Mobile will hold off on releasing its quarterly financial results until February 27, but it did release a statement of customer numbers today.
What I found the most interesting reading through them is the comparative lack of interest in the Android-powered G1 compared to Apple’s iPhone. In the fourth quarter of 2008, T-Mobile added 621, 000 net new customers. Of those, only 43 percent or 267, 000 were net new post-paying (they signed a contract) customers. The rest were pre-paid accounts.
The numbers are roughly in line with the company’s third quarter performance, but compared to AT&T’s 1.9 million iPhone activations in the fourth quarter, it’s obvious the G1 hasn’t produced a whole lot of interest.
T-Mobile’s contract churn also increased to 2.4 percent as subscribers came to the end of their 2-year contracts. T-Mobile began offering contractual subscriptions in April 2006, and it seems that those at the end of their contracts were inclined to leave. For the iPhone perhaps?
2008 was the first year T-Mobile offered 3G data speeds, and the company says that in the fourth quarter 40 percent of the handsets sold to both new and upgrading subscribers were converged, while slightly more than half of those were actually 3G-enabled. It’s tough to tell exactly how many upgrading subscribers actually activated a G1, but if you apply the numbers strictly to new subscribers, it works out to roughly 64, 000 3G activations. How many of those would be G1 activations I’m not sure, but it’s obviously a far cry from 1.9 million.
Things could change this year, however, as more handset manufacturers begin to pump out Android-based phones. It’ll also make a difference once the Android Market begins to accept paid applications, not to mention the better distribution enabled by T-Mobile’s choice to farm the G1 out to more stores. Developers will be more likely to develop for Android, and as the iPhone has shown us, in many ways the availability and quality of applications make or break a mobile phone.
At the same time, Android’s measly 800 applications currently available is well within the sights of the Blackberry Application Storefront which is set to launch in March. With an active user base of 21 million, and the best payment plan available for mobile app developers, Research In Motion’s Blackberry and app store will provide tough competition. And we can’t forget Palm’s App Catalog–time will only tell if it’ll be a success, but right now Android is definitely in tough.