T-Mobile CEO John Legere at an Uncarrier event earlier this year.
Count T-Mobile CEO John Legere as someone who doesn’t think struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry is down for the count.
“On a comeback,” Legere said when asked about his thoughts on BlackBerry.
The words of support, rare at a time when many are skeptical about BlackBerry’s prospects in the increasingly competitive smartphone world, represent a remarkable turnaround from 2014, when a spat between the two companies forced them to sever ties. It wasn’t until this year that T-Mobile and BlackBerry made up, with T-Mobile customers finally able to buy a BlackBerry Classic in May.
BlackBerry, which has seen its smartphone sales plunge over the last several years, has just released the Priv, its first smartphone powered by Google’s Android software. But AT&T is the first US carrier to sell the device.
“While we don’t carry the Priv right now, we may have something to report soon,” a T-Mobile spokeswoman said. “We are definitely talking with BlackBerry.”
BlackBerry, meanwhile, was pleased with the support. “I’m energized about our renewed relationship with T-Mobile and I’m excited about what 2016 will bring we continue to move forward together,” CEO John Chen said in an e-mail.
Legere’s response to BlackBerry was also the most insightful answer to come out of a word association game that he and Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert played with CNET. Legere pulled his punches with most of his responses, instead letting his lieutenant take on the role of heavy.
His response to Verizon? “Red.” His suggestion for Sprint? “School bus.”
That’s a far cry from the first time Legere played the word association game with CNET, noting that AT&T “sucks” and Verizon was “worse.”
Sievert, however, was more candid. He called AT&T “greedy” and said Sprint was “in a tough spot.”
AT&T declined to comment. Sprint couldn’t be reached for comment.
On Net neutrality, the principle of equal treatment of Internet traffic that critics believe T-Mobile is violating with its unlimited streaming program Binge On, Legere said “supportive.”
Sievert answered “lots” in response to “spectrum,” the radio frequencies that are critical to carrying YouTube videos, phone calls and text messages through the air. T-Mobile plans to participate in next year’s government auction of spectrum, which could eventually boost its coverage.
While all of the carriers are busy finishing the deployment of their 4G networks, some are looking ahead to 5G. When asked about the next-generation wireless technology, Sievert said “2020.”
While Legere is a well-known comic book fan (he’s previously said he believes he’s Batman), Sievert is not. He was stumped by “Green Lantern,” who, like Sievert has a fascination with flying. Sievert’s response of “superhero” prompted Legere to say, “You suck at this.”
Legere showed his loyalty to Batman when asked about Superman. “He gets killed by Batman,” he said.