It's pretty funny to watch all the rhetorical grenades that the major wireless companies constantly throw at each other. What's interesting is that in light of all the consolidation now taking place and constant changes in this industry's pecking order, it makes each of the major players look like outright clowns in a circus.
For years, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile have publicly battled over which network is strongest, reaches most consumers and provides the best, latest technology. They've lambasted each other's ad campaigns, sued one another for false statements and generally have done most anything possible to win consumer loyalty by claiming superiority over their competitors.
Now, as AT&T looks to acquire T-Mobile for $30 billion, these once hated adversaries find themselves speaking out of both sides of their mouths as they try to take back or reinterpret past comments made about each other. And, the other major players seem to look just as silly. For instance, T-Mobile's current parent, Deutche Telecom, ran a campaign last year making fun of AT&T's supposed inferior, slow speed. Now, its president is quoted as saying, "AT&T is the best solution for our customers. That's why we did this deal." What is the best solution...having really slow speed?
Another great example of how words can come back to haunt a company is delivered by Sprint. Sprint loves to promote how it was the first to offer extra fast 4G phones. It also touts how it still leads this category and that superior 4G technology is the most important benefit when choosing a carrier. But, After the AT&T/T-Mobile deal goes through, Sprint could be a distant fourth in the cellular war, finding itself far behind the pack in technological prowess in this 4G battle. I'd imagine that Sprint is wondering how its marketing messages need to change given the current environment. More importantly, will customers focus on the fact that an attribute it once claimed as critically important to its customers' needs won't ring true anymore.
Understanding how future competitive events might impact one's own company is not easy. But, if there's anything to learn here, these companies need to realize that bold claims can be used against them later on. And, when an entire industry changes the rhetoric so often, credibility is eroded and it begins to create misbelief among consumers. That impacts long term reputation, sales, stock price, etc.
I'm not sure if most people even listen to all the shouting that is aimed at them anymore. I really don't. All I care is that my phone works well. However, I do think this industry needs to become more sophisticated and less bafoonish about how it communicates and markets points of supposed differentiation to its customer. Lord knows its players spend enough money on advertising and promotions. It would be great to see a different strategy employed to build our confidence and loyalty.