Aug. 8 - T-Mobile's hip CEO reversed four years of subscriber losses, gaining more customers than any other carrier last quarter. Fred Katayama reports.
T-Mobile's hip T-shirt loving CEO John Legere vowed to make the carrier "cool" and turn it into an "uncarrier," and today he produced signs of a turnaround. The struggling carrier reversed years of subscriber losses, gaining 688,000 key contract customers - more than any other carrier. Helping boost results: launching sales of Apple's iPhone in April. But it was more than that. In March, Legere gave customers what they long wanted: freedom from the two-year contracts that allowed his customers to buy phones without subsidies but get lower monthly subscription rates instead. Then last month, T-Mobile began allowing customers to upgrade their phones twice a year, a move AT&T and Verizon soon copied. He said: "by fixing the things that drive them (consumers) mad, like contracts and upgrades, and freeing them from the two-year sentences imposed on them by our competitors, they are choosing the new T-Mobile in unprecedented numbers." T-Mobile shares rose sharply, extending its rally of more than 80 percent this year. The former CEO of telecom company Global Crossing is shaking up the status quo in an industry dominated by Verizon Wireless and AT&T. He has put out some in-your-face ads, mocking AT&T by asking if its executives make their kids wait two years to open their Christmas presents. And he overturned a company ban on tattoos and piercing in a bid to pull in young customers. The change comes at a cost. T-Mobile lost 16 million dollars in the quarter. Still, the company expects to add up to 1.2 million contract subscribers this year.