Blog Post

AT&T: I’m in love with da iPhone

Steve Jobs and the iPhone must really have a strange effect on people, especially grown men who are in charge of a company that is as old as the collective ages of me and Steve and Dupree. Never before has the senior management of AT&T been so gushing and ebullient about anything – not even digital voice. (That’s a joke old timers will get, so indulge us.)

Randall Stephenson, the new CEO of the NEW AT&T, almost sounded like a fanboy when it came time to talk about the iPhone during his keynote at the telecom trade show, NxtComm, currently under way in Chicago.

While espousing a wireless future (now that fixed line business keeps shrinking) he said being wireless centric also meant being innovative, and used the iPhone as an example. “We do have this new phone coming out next week. Maybe you’ve heard of it?,” he said and added, “There is a good reason for all this excitement. The iPhone is the very definition of innovation.”

It’s a combination cell phone, iPod and wireless web-surfing device with a touch screen. It’s sleek … it’s fun … …the iPhone will be a game changer … for us and the industry. It’s incredible what this device can do and how it works.

And I thought I was going ga-ga over the iPhone!

Stephenson went on to say, “We are gearing up for it, big time. We have expedited the brand changeover to AT&T at all 1,800 Cingular stores.”

“We are hiring and training hundreds of new employees to handle the rush. And we are working overtime to ensure the best network experience possible on Day One,” he added.

He might have a reason for his optimism. According to Stephenson, more than one million people have signed up for more information from AT&T.

“That’s great, but what is really intriguing to me is that…of the million-plus people who contacted AT&T, our research shows that nearly 40 percent of them are not AT&T wireless customers today,” he said.

That’s about 400,000 non AT&T customers who are expressing interest in the iPhone! A hypothetical scenario: if 20% of those interested actually switch to Ma Bell, that alone would mean a perceptible shift in market share of the big four mobile carriers.

Assuming that each one of these 80,000 folks sign-up for $50 a month (Wireless ARPU in the first quarter was $49.21), Ma Bell can get an extra $50 million a year just in service tariffs.

UBS Research estimates that “if 2 million iPhones are sold in the U.S. in the first six months after launch, this would represent 18% of AT&T Mobility’s postpaid gross adds and upgrades.” That translates into a lot of money.

Sure money can’t buy you love, but it sure can make falling in love a lot more convenient.

14 Responses to “AT&T: I’m in love with da iPhone”

  1. Jonathan Frate

    I’m looking forward to uploading photos from my vacation, downloading the tonight show videos from youtube (cuz it’s the real web after all), listening to ipod music, and txting my friend on the “keypad” all at the same time while sitting at the beach on a speedy EDGE network.

    Should be good for the 18 minutes that my battery will last!

  2. buzzdroid

    Forget about the potential for failure for a moment, forget about the possibility that fat fingered people will be completely out of luck. The real story is the absolute madness, which at this point, is likely to include camping out for the iPhone? Camping out? Are they serious? It’s a damn phone people!

  3. Yes, the iPhone is innovative. That is why, in the uncertain weeks after folks get their hands on this innovative device and are cursing the tricky, technique-dependent, can’t get the hang-of-it, ‘never-seen-nothin-like-that-before’ quality of the input device — AT&T will run scared; begin distancing themselves; hedging their bets; pulling out pieces of the launch campaign.

    A company like AT&T cannot sustain the uncertainty of the adoption period.

    iPhone is innovative – and that is why your company can never be associated with it.

  4. Jesse Kopelman

    Om, that’s not love motivating Randy — it’s fear. Old man AT&T just had a lavish and very expensive wedding to a 20-something ex-model/actress of questionable providence and whoops he forgot to get a pre-nup. If the iPhone isn’t a huge success AT&T is going to be in a lot of trouble with Wall Street.

  5. fog city dave

    I can’t help but echo Don’s thoughts. From Forbes to the WSJ to ZDnet and the San Jose Mercury News, eveybody in the media and blogoshphere doesn’t seem to just be predicting failure and disappointment for the iPhone. It seems clear that they WANT the iPhone to fail and be a disappointment. They’re hoping to god that this thing can’t be as good as it looks, and perhaps they think they can convince people to avoid it. I’m not sure why.

    Of course, even when it is a boffo success, they’ll say, “Oh, it’s just Apple fanboys and brainwashed idiots buying that thing.” Oh well, what can you do? :-)

  6. charle

    I think Apple is pulling a real fast one on AT&T. Who is paying for all the ads –they are branded as AT&T.

    In six months there will be a widescreen ipod that looks just like the iphone — and that will be the best seller as the 100million ipod users upgrade to that.

    Of course AT&T is benefiting from all the free publicity — hard to put a number on that.

    We also don’t know what is the cut Apple is getting from sales/contracts — so your estimated $50 million take is going to be a bit off. I’m also curious to see the margins on the iphone. a 8gb flash device with a screen and wifi should be about $150-200 — and much cheaper with the amount of flash memory that Apple has been buying. Who gets that revenue? I suspect Apple is selling them to AT&T at 900 a pop, then agreeeing to take a smaller cut of the revenue in return.

  7. Rick – “dream on for $100K” – said: “I wanted to know if Apple would be selling anti-viurs and spyware software with the iPhones. As far as know, this issue has not been discussed. As I expected, the guy (possibly manager) had no clue at all.”

    Dear Rick, iPhone runs Mac OS X. Apple does not sell anti-virus/spyware for Mac OS X. Did you know that the iPhone Mac OS X is closed for application development – for a reason – especially to avoid hacks like you to trying to sell consumers what they dont need. Now go take the $100K from a Windows based company because they desperately need you (even if they dont need you, they think they need you!). So here in our office with 200 Macs and soon about 50 iPhones, we’ll be happy without a dedicated IT department and not spending $100K on a consultant.

  8. The only folks practicing “overpromise” are analysts and Apple anti-fanboys. Far as I know, no one from Apple has hoped for more than 1% – and that was hope not promise.

    Meanwhile, AT&T should be thanking their lucky stars the advert package was wrested from their hands by Apple. I can’t get that bloody tune out of my brain..

  9. Sounds as though some folks are HOPING that the iPhone will not do well (other than Verizon and Sprint). I would bet it is ENVY –“Why didn’t I think of that?” :(

    If it works as in the ads, it will be a huge success. But, I do NOT plan on switching from a carrier with whom I am satisfied, and I cannot see paying the current price for the iPhone. It would be nice to see it available from other carriers and at a much lower price (since the monthly fees will be large for my budget) in about a year or so.

  10. I walked into the Apple store last night and was very hesitant to ask a question. I wanted to know if Apple would be selling anti-viurs and spyware software with the iPhones. As far as know, this issue has not been discussed. As I expected, the guy (possibly manager) had no clue at all.

    Ok, here’s my consulting gig for all Apple stores (and ATT). Push add-on protection software and reap an extra 10% on iPhone sales. You can keep my $100K fee for the extra revenue.

  11. Agree with inbabble. Expectations are so high at both AT&T and Apple that they are sure to feel PR backlash, even if the iPhone is a hit with customers. FSJ continues to follow the inevitable backlash in his post from yesterday.

    Apple of course is due for a PR backlash and can take it with the great PR stretch they’ve been on. You would think AT&T would be a little more careful as to not set the bar too high. What is that they say… “underpromise overdeliver.”