T-Mobile to add 400 stores this year, expects to steal market share with new iPhone

T-Mobile store

T-Mobile US plans to open another 400 new retail stores this year, according to a top company executive, growing the carrier’s total nationwide retail footprint from 3,600 to 4,000 stores by the end of 2016. And that effort will dovetail with another major push by T-Mobile: Using the expected launch of Apple’s next iPhone to steal market share from the likes of AT&T and Verizon.

T-Mobile VP of investor relations, Nils Paellmann, spoke today at the Oppenheimer 19th Annual Technology, Internet & Communications Conference. According to Jennifer Fritzsche, an analyst at Wells Fargo, Paellmann offered details about T-Mobile’s retail expansion efforts for 2016. “Existing distribution sells into 230MM POPs (of 311MM total), and the company's plans for expanded distribution would cover an incremental 30-40MM POPs by YE2017,” Fritzsche wrote in a research note to investors summarizing Paellmann’s remarks.

Indeed, T-Mobile executives discussed the carrier’s plans to expand its retail presence during T-Mobile’s recent quarterly conference call with analysts. T-Mobile COO Michael Sievert said the expansion will cover new geographies for T-Mobile – ones opened by its burgeoning 700 MHz spectrum buildout – as well as existing geographies. “That's not just new cities and greenfield areas, that's also dense of places where we have densified or extended out into the suburbs and in the hinterland. So, it could be areas where we've added infill, it could be areas out in the suburbs or it could be greenfield markets. So, that's a mix of those in our distribution expansion. About 400 stores this year, and we're on track for that,” he said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of his remarks.

Sievert added that T-Mobile is also adding new MetroPCS stores, and expects to end the year with 4,000 T-Mobile stores and fully 9,000 MetroPCS stores.

As T-Mobile expands its retail presence, Paellmann said the carrier is also hoping to gain momentum via the expected launch of Apple’s next iPhone. “Paellmann noted the sizing of upgrades and switchers is difficult to predict, but believes the anticipated iPhone refresh stands as an opportunity for TMUS to take share from other wireless carriers,” Fritzsche wrote. “TMUS has proven to be a share taker, and when industry churn increases, TMUS captures and outsized percentage of gross adds mix.”

Although Apple continues to remain silent about a possible iPhone launch this year, the company is widely expected to unveil a new version of the device this fall, likely called the iPhone 7. However, according to a number of reports – including those from the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg – the device will likely sport a similar design to the company’s current iPhone lineup, although with a home button sporting haptic feedback, a Lightening connector for users’ headphones, and an improved camera.

A new consumer survey from Wall Street analyst firm New Street Research points to pent-up demand for a new iPhone – and the firm’s survey showed that 10 percent of respondents plan to switch from their current carrier to a new one in the next three to four months, a situation that could benefit Sprint and T-Mobile, New Street said.

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