By now I’m sure that you’re familiar with the arguments against the proposed AT&T-T-Mobile merger. As critics see it, the deal will put too much power in the hands of one carrier (and one GSM carrier at that), it will reduce customer choice and innovation, and it will lead to higher prices and poorer customer service.
Those all are valid points, but I’m more worried about something that hasn’t received a lot of attention. If this merger goes through, I fear that T-Mobile’s gutsy approach to expanding its smartphone lineup will be killed by AT&T’s stodgier culture. Indeed, over the last year, T-Mobile has greatly outshone its potential partner in both the range and quality of such handsets. AT&T produced slightly more smartphones during that period (21 versus 19), but T-Mobile has taken more risks and its lineup has earned a higher average score from CNET editors (7.7 versus 7.2). I don’t really know where the carrier gets its aggressive spirit, but customers will lose if it disappears.
Just consider that in the four months since the merger was announced, T-Mobile has continued to pump out one worthy smartphone after another. Not only did we see two CNET Editors’ Choice winners with the LG G2x and the HTC Sensation 4G, but also we had the shutterbug-friendly MyTouch 4G Slide 4G, the wallet-friendly Samsung Exhibit 4G, and the Sidekick 4G, which brought the Sidekick family back to life. That’s lot of handset power in a short time.
Read more: On Call: What we’d really lose in an AT&T-T-Mobile merger