Apple CEO Tim Cook's conversation with Brian Williams on NBC's news magazine show, Rock Center, last night has generated multiple headlines in the tech world, including Apple's planned $100 million investment to build an iMac computer line in the U.S. next year, and the company's continuing but vague plans to produce an industry-shaking TV (along with Cook's fondness for The Jetsons.
Where iPhones and other Apple products are made is of no real importance to most American buyers (and, IMHO, an over-blown issue), and the speculation about an Apple HDTV is fun but, right now, largely academic.
But the hubbub over Cook's first TV interview since becoming CEO (you can see clips of it here in case you missed it) buried Apple news of arguably greater impact to American consumers:
iPhone is officially coming to T-Mobile next year.
Yes, you can get an iPhone that operates on T-Mobile's network. But you need a so-called unlocked phone – one not technically tied to a particular network and one not requiring a carrier contract – that you have to pay full price for. An unlocked iPhone 5, for example, sells for $649 (16 GB), $749 (32 GB) and $849 (64 GB).
But sometime next year, you'll be able to buy a subsidized T-Mobile iPhone, as well as iPads.
When, and how much?
Don't know – there are no details. The "news" was a casual mention of planned expansion of the carrier's hardware portfolio buried in the nether regions of a press release announcing a sizable broadband investment by T-Mobile's German parent company, Deutsche Telekom. Not even T-Mobile has made any announcement.
We also don't know what network the T-Mobile iPhone 5 will operate on. T-Mobile doesn't currently operate a 4G LTE network like AT&T, Sprint and Verizon.
Instead, T-Mobile's "4G" phones run on T-Mobile's faux 4G HSPA+ network, essentially a speeded-up 3G network – not LTE, but still pretty fast.
But T-Mobile announced plans earlier this year to invest $4 billion to build a true 4G LTE network to launch next year.
Since it'll take time for T-Mobile to roll-out its LTE network, the T-Mobile iPhone 5 will likely run on the carrier's slower HSPA+ data network.
The good news for the budget conscious: With little or no LTE support, a T-Mobile iPhone 5 data plan likely will cost less per month than it does from the other three national carriers.
So, if you're a feature phone owner on a budget contemplating a smartphone purchase, you may want to wait 'til next year when iPhone comes to T-Mobile.