T-Mobile US CEO on wearables: 'Apple Watch is the tipping point'

...and contracts are history, says crystal-ball-gazing bigwig

In a rash of annual predictions, T- Mobile big cheese John Legere claims that “Wearables and phablets will be the big device stories of 2015”.

He goes on to look at exercise and fashion products as being in the same space: “I love what Jawbone, Fitbit, Samsung, LG, Microsoft and others are doing in the wearables space. But we haven’t begun to see the potential of this category. It’s going to go from $1 to $20 billion in the next few years.”

Putting numbers on things is always dangerous, even if “the next few years” is a bit vague, but he clearly doesn’t see the Fitbit et al as a fad.

It’s the new Apple gewgaw, however, about which Legere has the most optimism: “And though we won’t see its full impact in 2015, I believe that the Apple Watch will mark the tipping point when wearables go from niche to mainstream.” He also sees a big future for bigger phones “At the same time, phablet sales will continue to sky rocket – up at least 50 per cent. This will have a couple of important side effects. First, phablets will continue to cannibalise the tablet market, and second, the rise of phablets – which are made for data hounds – will continue to fuel the exponential growth in mobile data use. And, of course, T-Mobile customers – who use the most data – will continue to lead the pack in mobile data use.”

Other Legere predictions include a repeat of his previous assertions that T-Mobile will overtake Sprint in the US market and that we’ll see an end of the subsidy model.

Analysis

The end of the subsidy model is a prediction that has been made for a long time. Your correspondent once organised a lunch for the UK and European heads of the top handset manufacturers to meet. Between them they had 90 per cent market share. We toasted the end of subsidy model as the cracks were beginning to show. That was led by the launch of Virgin Mobile, the year was 1999 and the bosses were the heads of Nokia, Motorola and Ericsson. Predictions are dangerous.

You’ll also note that while Legere makes a lot of predictions for 2015, he doesn’t say who he thinks will own T-Mobile US by the end of it. ®

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