It's not a great time to be a T-Mobile USA customer right now.
Sprint Nextel getting the iPhone is one thing, but regional carriers C Spire--formerly known as Cellular South--announcing it will be selling Apple's smash-hit handset in the coming weeks has got to be galling for T-Mobile customers.
T-Mobile's response: blame Apple.
"T-Mobile thinks the iPhone is a good device and we've expressed our interest to Apple to offer it to our customers," the company said in an e-mailed statement today. "Ultimately, it is Apple's decision."
T-Mobile went on to add that Apple has not developed a version of the iPhone that works with its 3G and 4G networks, and touted the company's existing lineup of smartphones and their advantages, including a higher connection speed, bigger screens, lower service pricing, and a better camera on the recently unveiled HTC Amaze 4G.
"We firmly believe that T-Mobile's portfolio will give any iPhone a run for its money," T-Mobile said.
T-Mobile also took a shot at Apple, noting that there are reports of some iPhones not operating well on some carrier networks.
It's unclear why Apple would skip the fourth-largest carrier in the nation and strike a deal with a regional carrier. Perhaps it believes AT&T will complete its acquisition of T-Mobile, which would allow T-Mobile customers to get the iPhone once they are absorbed.
There are no technical barriers. The AT&T version of the iPhone 4S is able to run on GSM and HSPA+, the two technologies T-Mobile uses, albeit running on different spectrum.
T-Mobile missed out on the recent bonanza of the iPhone 4S launch. AT&T said yesterday it activated 1 million iPhone 4S handsets as of Tuesday, while Sprint Nextel said during the launch on Friday that it had its best-ever single-day sales for a device, breaking the record early in the day. Verizon Communications Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said earlier today during its third-quarter conference call that it sold out on day one and continues to see strong demand.
It's just the latest setback for T-Mobile, a company that has been struggling to regain its footing for the past year. The carrier was already suffering from an exodus of its most valuable contract customers, and is attempting to stay relevant amid the takeover process, which has been threatened by a Justice Department lawsuit to block to the deal.