Editorial: Let’s break it down – TMO TESTDRIVE

Posted In Editorial, Featured, News - By Dann On Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 With 1,140 Comments

First and foremost, in the benefit of full disclosure: I love the following sites I’m about to nitpick on. I read and follow very heavily, and in some cases have been a sneaky ninja for. I’m also all love for TMO. With that love out of the way, let’s jump right into the hits.

There’s been a case of outcry that hit the web a few weeks back when Magenta struck out with their new TESTDRIVE marketing initiative. I like the whole “secret agent” angle, Carly’s performance was very cool and the bike scene was neat (although a bit trite). Overall, this is a good way to step up and say “the boss is back.” This push came with its own nice website, which I’m sure we’ve all hit so I’ll skip the pics that compares TMO’s GalaxyS II vs….wait for it….iPhone!

The minute various sites, techs, always all-around cool people, saw that particular comparison a wave of shock hit. There’s been twitter chat on it, of course, and everyone has pretty much stated their intention on it via their sites / blogs. Again, I groove all these writers and sites but I found myself doing anything BUT agree with their assessment, and that also goes for my home turf.

Since everything is online and public, I’m going to do what good little writers of the English language do, and follow the rules: everything will be noted, properly given credit to, and in the spirit of internet discussion and educated discussion (not debate or flame) I’ll even finish off with some criticism that I think is valid and may have just been overlooked in this whole semi-ridiculous debacle. Well, I consider it that way and I hope you may join me or at least say “Kinda got a point…”

Please keep in mind that I have read the articles in their entirety and am responding to quotes with the article in mind – I’m not just picking out easy targets but three heavily read sites that encompass the general feedback.

Without further ado, let’s hit the waves!

Android Invasion (aka HomeTurf, this site)http://www.android-invasion.net/2012/04/editorial-t-mobiles-new-ad-campaign-is-misleading/- Chance

I did, of course, in the spirit of proper penmanship and respect for the house talked to Chance before I even got to this point, and told him straight out I’m countering the article. He was tickled. Chance, I hope you’re still tickled! :)

“If you are running an ad campaign that states that you have the fastest network available, you have to compare it to your competitor’s best network.”

I’m starting off here because Chance did a great job of really catching everyone’s general gripe – we’re playing unfair. We are supposedly not doing what we should do as good boys and girls by not comparing our high-end speed beast to the other company’s equivalent. Is this correct? From a technical standpoint, yes, absolutely – to those of us that care about these things. In fact my very first reaction was the same; then I remember my wife: “Is iPhone really the best and fastest phone out there?”

That little question from my missus brought me back down to what TMO is really targeting – normal, everyday people, who are sold and bought by marketing. I realized that TMO is doing what it needs to do – nail and rip apart the lies around the other phones others are pushing, which are major reasons for people to not be at TMO. Don’t believe me? Jump onto TMO’s forums and search for iPhone.  TMobile did an absolute right here; we can’t look at these items from here on out as techies. TMO has already tried that, it didn’t work, because people didn’t – they were seduce by the supposed coolness. What I’m seeing now with TESTDRIVE is TMO taking a hard swing at the picture that’s been drawn by everyone and saying “Guess what? Yeah, it’s not that good.”It’s not TMO’s fault that iPhone doesn’t support fastest speeds, but if you walk into any other store out there that sells it, what do you think they’ll say? Hint: they won’t say it’s the slowest.

TMONews.com - http://www.tmonews.com/2012/04/t-mobile-testdrive-website-now-live-and-ready-for-your-test-drive/- David Beren

Update: Perhaps calling this a “cop-out” was a little too strange of language, but I stand by my assertion that this is wrong and that T-Mobile should test 4G against 4G or not at all. I hope T-Mobile recognizes that their strength lies in comparable speeds, but really shakes things up when it comes to value.”

David, you know me via twitter. You *know* I’m a fan, but I need to touch on this.

Value proposition has not helped Tmobile at all. TMO’s seeing all their profit walk out the door and hit other carriers that carry the phone they want. They don’t care that they have to pay more, they’re happy that they now have an iPhone that tells people they’re at the same social status. It’s unfair, and absolutely irrational, but it’s what happens. It’s like seeing the “cool kid” at school eat a burger and all of a sudden the lunch room’s sold out.

Value isn’t bringing people to the table, and even android fans on TMO have lashed out at the lack of high-end phone selections. Many are even willing to pay more if it means better quality phones. In a sense, they’re correct. I’m still miffed that the Nokia 900 didn’t hit TMO, and they did an awful job of promoting the 700 and radar. The 700’s lost it luster, and the radar wasn’t capitalized on when they could have focused on its FFC; that’s all marketing. WP people walked for the 900 the same way they’re walking on iPhone vs. Android. TMO needs to show it’s got the coolness. TESTDRIVE is a good starting point.

TheVerge.com - http://www.theverge.com/2012/4/18/2957015/tmobile-speed-test-4g-hspa-3g-iphone- Adi Robertson (with heavy use of quotes from David….)

You know, it was hard to find an item here to hit that wasn’t already mentioned by us or TMONews, and in fact if you read the article it’s pretty much quote-by-quote. So why would I grab onto this one? Simple:

“It’s clear that T-Mobile’s real target isn’t the carriers but the iPhone itself, since at this point that’s probably its biggest weakness. Still, the ads aren’t really doing anything to clear the muddied waters around the 4G terminology.”

I wish there was more to grab onto here, Adi’s stating part of a real problem that would have been nice to flesh out in this specific TMO context. He does refer to two previous background articles but let’s bring this up for the sake of discussion within a specific T-Mobile situation: this is a problem techs have and many customers don’t. Most people didn’t notice a speed difference from their current phone when they switched over to iPhone; this is self-evident by the lack of ETF’s and rate of renewals for iPhone. They’re also not noticing because the apps and needs don’t require it.

4G is nice and “speed is king” but please explain to me how a line faster than perhaps 1.5 – 3.0 MB/s is really going to bring any type of noticeable difference to my FB app. In most cases, users are already aware of having to use WiFi to do any real video or other b/w heavy browsing – and if they’re not their first bill will bring it up rather quickly and they’ll learn not to do it. In the same way that TMO is losing on the value aspect by prioritizing it, they’re also losing on the speed side. My HSPA+ connection is tons of fun as it is; but people are clamoring LTE only because of – say it with me –marketing. Sadly, here’s what most people don’t get: LTE just means it’ll be faster for YOU to hit THEIR caps, allowing them to charge YOU FASTER. That’s LTE at the moment.

So how do I summarize this, in a way that comes across well to everyone? It’s not the technology; it’s not the guts that are catching people. It’s not pricing, it’s not speed, it is the marketing. People don’t understand, nor need to, the discrepancies between 3G, HSPA, GSM, LTE, etc. etc. – that’s our job. What people care about is if it’s cool and will it do what I want. With that, let’s critique TESTDRIVE.

Lack of real feature difference. I may not be a huge fan of Samsung due to their somewhat lax update policies but I have to admit their hardware is looking good. Touchwiz likewise is decent as well. Why didn’t the site cover these items more? Android by itself, with our without the skin, is a very active environment. Live notifications, active widgets, convenient communication via not just Google Voice but a ton of other options are just a handful of the items that did not come up.

Lack of Facebook. This sounds like a joke to be honest; I can’t even believe I’m writing it but it’s true. Facebook is a huge thing for people today; when I compare my FB on my Sensation to my wife’s i-device she’s really impressed because it can do a bit more. Guess what, people do care. Tie that in to my HTC Sense with not just FriendStream but twitter and more in a nice central package and she’s looking at her i-device suspiciously.

Lack of HTC. Since when is the Galaxy II still the flagship product? Why concentrate on its speed? The OneS is out, let’s update the site and throw some HTC in there but quite frankly that won’t ever happen. TMO’s been weird with marketing HTC items. I noticed this with the sensation’s release, same with amaze, and at first thought it had to do with the merger but seeing now how other carriers are getting the better HTC phones and rumors point to the Galaxy III showing up on TMO sooner than later, including the Note making a late appearance, makes me think that TMO has cut HTC as their main go-to manufacturer. While I know that HTC Sense, or any other skin, doesn’t get much appreciation from techs in general I like to think of myself as an exception. I use my Sensation day to day, b2b use, and can’t live without my sense. Touchwiz, however, is a completely different animal; it needs serious work and fix. Spec-wise OneS wins it. Why they went with that is beyond me.

I think everyone by now can see where I’m going with this; the point isn’t to beat by anything else other than awesomeness. The marketing perceptions have to change and rush back to TMO, which will in turn begin to bring fruit to the value and tech items, and then word of mouth by itself will carry it over. That’s why I think and say that TMO did TESTDRIVE right.

About - Dann joined Android Invasion in March of 2012 as a contributor. He lives with his family. He currently uses a rooted Sensation 4G.