AT&T: iPhone is key for mobile rebranding

So you’re not calling Cingular the new AT&T Mobility yet? Yeah, we aren’t either. But the company thinks that the iPhone can help with some of its re-branding problems.

The folks at UBS Investment Research sat in on AT&T’s latest investor meeting and say that AT&T is disappointed with last quarter’s postpaid subscribers adds and partially attributes that to the re-branding efforts of its mobile service to the clunky AT&T Mobility. (We’ve mostly been hearing it as the new AT&T.) But Ma Bell is hoping the iPhone will be the glue that makes the new re-branding stick:

The company will use the launch as a branding event and increase its advertising around the product to cement the AT&T Mobility name in the market. They expect Apple to market the product aggressively as well.

Any marketing of the new brand will help, given the Cingular name still has such a strong presence in the market.

The UBS folks took away some other interesting tidbits on the financial terms between Apple and AT&T from the meeting as well. They don’t think the iPhone will be subsidized by AT&T and AT&T might actually generate a small margin on sales of the phone in its stores.

UBS also says that the “revenue share with Apple could be a more meaningful portion of monthly ARPU than we previously thought,” which would be a concern for AT&T if a lot of iPhone buyers are already existing customers.

As a result, UBS says that the revenue share might be different for new customers vs upgraded subscribers, or the deal might change based on how many iPhone users are new or existing customers.

Both of these little details are interesting, because it shows how much leverage Apple has in the so-tightly controlled carrier world.

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