T-Mobile US celebrates nearly 20 percent smartphone users

T-Mobile loses 93,000 customers but triples smartphone base | Electronista.

Thanks to Android, T-Mobile tripled its smartphone user base in one year. Evidence again of a secular shift to smartphones and the value of Android as gap-filler for Apple’s inability/unwillingness to satisfy demand.

  • Alcatholic

    About Apple and manufacturing, I think there is a history there.

    If you read Andy Hertzfeld's you can see that Jobs initially saw himself and Apple as industrialists. He showed pride in owning the "most" advanced and automated factories of the time.

    Fast forward to 1997 and it is my understanding, but I don't have any links handy, that Jobs and Apple moved out of manufacturing Maybe out financial necessity, but it seems to me more out of strategy. In the 90's Apple manufacturing had fallen way behind Dell's model, for example. They had bad inventory management, etc. Job with NeXT left the PC hardware business altogether.

    Could it be that Apple will resist reentering manufacturing, because of prior bad experience or strategic "stubbornness?"

    On my iPhone so sorry for the lack of editing. 🙂

  • Electronic manufacturing in the 80s and 90s was a scary business to be in. However in the last 10 years there have been tremendous advances in automation and efficiency. Apple's designs may require more labor than typical devices, but the labor cost is still a single digit percent of total direct cost. That coupled with better inventory and supply chain management means that manufacturing is more predictable. I know from the way Nokia allocates capacity, large scale manufacturing cannot be fully outsourced. It can and should be done in locations near points of distribution. If Apple wants to get into really big volumes (more than 100 million devices a year) it needs to think about putting assembly close at hand.

  • Alcatholic

    From your prior posts I know that the exact nature of Apple's manufacturing issues would make a difference on the optimal solutions, but in Nokia's case, do they manufacture/assemble the final product, like a Dell, or do they also machine parts and cases? What about Motorola when they were in the volume cell phone business?

    Also, Motorola being a US based company, did they own plants in the US such that their parts came from Asia, or did they own plants close to their Asian suppliers?

    It seems to me that Apple's supply chain is mostly in Asia, so how would they balance owning their own plants closer to customers at the expense of being further from their supply chain?

    I don't have an MBA so excuse the I'll informed questions. 🙂

  • Nokia mostly assembles components into final sales packages. There is some outsourcing of production but I believe (and this may have changed) that most of it is still done in factories owned and operated by Nokia. Motorola outsourced most if not all production some time ago (they also outsourced engineering, but that's another story).

    Placing plants closer to distribution gives a better response time and saves on shipping and duties, to some degree.

    The location of suppliers of components are not a major concern. The parts arrive at a plant in huge bulk quantities (rolls of tape holding thousands of chips which are used to feed machines that place the chips on boards). Most direct labor is actually wherever there are screws to be screwed and placing the parts in a the box.

    This is a broad generalization for phones and Apple's products are much more fiddly but I still think that manufacturing is the bottleneck for Apple's growth.

    Also, on a more philosophical level, Apple's entry into retail is even more of a leap in value chain logic or its insourcing of chip design seems more risky than getting (back) into manufacturing.