Hesse took the industry to task for dissembling in public statements, flooding the airwaves with misleading or confusing claims about rivals' speeds and networks, and failing to produce the sort of marketing and branding that positions wireless carriers as allies of their customers. But he also argued that some of that blame was mislaid, owing perhaps to poor communication efforts on the part of carriers, but also overlooking the staggering degree to which users have come to rely on smartphones in virtually every aspect of their lives, from banking to travel, workplace productivity to social networking.
"This is a remarkable level of achievement and innovation, perhaps unprecedented, in business history, yet our reputation falls woefully short, especially when compared to how the public looks at companies like Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and some other tech companies," he said, referring to them as "over-the-top players" that have amassed enormous profits thanks in large part to the capital expenditures Sprint and others have made to build their networks.
"I focus so intensely on reputation because the future of our industry is about personalization -- how customers use the technology we provide and make it useful and relevant to them," Hesse said. "Trust has never been more important for any industry because there has never been a device in human history more personal than the smartphone."
Meanwhile, Philipp Humm, CEO of T-Mobile USA, sought to position his firm as being on the rebound after federal regulators blocked AT&T's proposed acquisition of the company. While acknowledging that his company is in the second tier of the nationwide carriers, Humm touted several internal initiatives within the company by which it aims to recover from the damage it took over the abortive AT&T acquisition and reemerge as a thriving independent outfit.
"I'm pleased to say T-Mobile is back competing aggressively as a challenger in wireless," Humm said, lauding his organization's efforts at "restarting the company."
Read more about mobile/wireless in CIO's Mobile/Wireless Drilldown.