I just visited T-Mobile.com and saw their big ad, emphasizing the amazingness of their 4G network. They haven’t yet realized that people are no longer buying cell phone service. People are now buying a platform and functionality, which happens to run on top of cell phone service. Super-fast streaming does me no good if I can’t super-fast-stream the tools I need/want to keep my life going.

Maybe most people think of their cell phones merely as media, entertainment devices, but I think that’s too simplistic. A vast number of us think of our cell phones as adjuncts to how we do business. I tried the MyTouch 4G from T-Mobile and returned it, because it was hyper-optimized for Facebook, tweeting and texting and watching YouTube. But could it handle a to-do list or a memo pad? Nah. They hadn’t thought to include that. (After 9 hours of downloading Android apps to handle that functionality and not finding a single app that did everything I wanted and was also pleasant to use, I finally gave up.)

Get with the program T-Mobile: the platform is now what matters. The game has changed. Rather than just OEMing Android and the phone hardware, take a good look at how people use their smartphones. Don’t just read the hype. Watch people. Watch teenagers. Watch parents. Watch businesspeople. Then make sure your entire phone experience supports those people’s ability to get their work done.

If you can get the iPhone, do it, and do it as fast as you possibly can. Many people are more loyal to the platform than the carrier, and if you can handle the capacity issues, providing the iPhone with your excellent service will be a big win in the marketplace.

If you elect to stay Android-only, look much closer and more deeply at how people use their phones. Don’t be afraid to hire a team of programmers and have them do as much customization as it takes to produce something both functional and usable. That’s not easy, but it’s doable. You just need to know that’s your goal going in.

Good luck. My contract ended last month, so now I’m free to switch carriers with no penalty. I can buy a Canadian unlocked iPhone and manually trim my existing SIM card to fit, but that will cost me an extra $1,000. Or I can switch to AT&T or Verizon. Or, I’m willing to wait for you to get the iPhone. But not forever…

Sad for T-Mobile

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