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.


Jason Fontenot

You do know that “AT&T Mobility” is just the legal/regulatory name, right? The company will not use “Mobility” to market their wireless divison to the public…it’s all, simply, AT&T…period. Regardless of their true legal names, subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. provide products and services under the AT&T brand.


My personal lesson on how powerful brands are… When my local phone company (originally PacBell then SBC) became AT&T, suddenly my SBC long distance was AT&T long distance and EVEN THOUGH I KNEW it was the same SBC, my gut said whoa… I’ve got MaBell long distance? Even though it was over 2 decades ago, I remember how much we all saved when we didn’t have to use MaBell anymore.

So I took a second look at what I was paying and switched to Sprint.

Yep, brands they are powerful and long-lived… but not always positive.

If they had renamed the whole company Cingular, I’d have had a better impression. But then again, I’ve never used Cingular and I’m sure there’s plenty of baggage in that brand too.


Why kill a name off if the customers like it? Cingular is a decent name, and there is no point at killing it off.


Do you have an actual copy of the UBS report you could link to or upload to the site or email to me? I know some people just like the headlines, but I would really love to read the full report.


“The New AT&T” is an oxymoron.

Whatever the company is called, they are clearly locked in a 1980s BellHead marketing mentality. Company executives actually think that the AT&T brand is strong, reading the corporate tea leaves and taking the fact that most people were too lazy to switch from AT&T to any of the other two dozen brands as their long-distance carriers as some sort of endorsement of their marketing prowess.

For a forward-looking, next-generation product and service offering, Cingular was a much stronger brand with north of a billion dollars spent on establishing its identity.

Ma Bell is dead, as is their maternalistic view of the marketplace.



“AT&T Mobility” sounds like a medical product to help elderly people get around, like a walker or motorized wheelchair. Not a branding homerun in my opinion.

They’d be better of sticking with “the new AT&T” for a while, then sliding back into plain ol’ AT&T.

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