T-Mobile USA is the latest company, and first major wireless carrier, to seize on the daily deals craze with a new Android application that aggregates offers from hundreds of group buying services. T-Mobile is launching an opt-in deals service to provide more targeted discounts to its customers via SMS text messaging.
The company's More For Me app, debuting in beta today in the Android Market, will allow anyone (not just T-Mobile subscribers) with an Android-powered smartphone to get select daily deals from among some 400 buying sites, including LivingSocial, Goldstar and Tippr (but not Groupon). T-Mobile is working directly with LivingSocial on creating some deals.
Through the app interface, deals can be customized according to location, product category and interests. When launched, the app detects a user's location and serves deals accordingly. After clicking on a deal, a user is taken to its site for origin to complete the purchase. People can also share offers via Facebook, SMS or email or tag and save them to a My Deals tab for later action.
"What this application does is really simplify this entire space and allow consumers to spend less time searching and more time saving by bringing together the best in daily deals," said Brad Duea, senior vice president of value-added services for T-Mobile. He added that the initiative also reflects the carrier's longtime emphasis on providing value to customers and catering to budget-conscious consumers.
Users now have to go to participating deal sites to buy deals via credit card, but Duea said T-Mobile may add carrier-based billing as an option, as it has done with other apps it has introduced.
Next month, T-Mobile will extend the deals program to T-Mobile customers across all handsets -- whether using Android or another smartphone platform or a feature phone -- through exclusive offers delivered via free text or MMS messages on an opt-in basis. Helping to power that service is Out There Media, a mobile ad technology firm that announced a broad ad partnership with T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom in February.
The opt-in program would allow T-Mobile to provide customers with potentially better deals, based on personal information provided by users. "We could actually bargain better offers to them specifically based on interests they've expressed or demographic information they've shared," said Duea.
T-Mobile will also work directly with brands to create deals available only to its subscribers through the opt-in service. The Gap is among the first to partner with T-Mobile, and more are expected to come on board. "One of the things we're trying to show is that we want to be a great partner for big brands," said Duea.
Across both the More for Me app and the opt-in program, T-Mobile will also feature national and local deals for its 2,000 retail stores nationwide. That could include discounts on calling plans, phones, tablets or accessories. "We could do that and then target it down to ZIP code level," noted Duea, allowing deals to be run for a particular T-Mobile store or stores in a given area.
In addition to revenue-sharing arrangements with deal providers and brands, the various deal offerings could help T-Mobile boost revenue through increased mobile data use, the fastest-growing segment of the wireless industry. Data service revenue for T-Mobile in the first quarter increased 20% to $1.3 billion.
But overall, the smallest of the major carriers continued to struggle, losing nearly 100,000 customers in the quarter and seeing profit decline from a year ago. AT&T's proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile is pending approval by Congress and the Federal Communications Commission.