AT&T’s mixed iPhone message – love/hate relationship over?

It is becoming more evident that AT&T’ Mobility’s tenuous relationship with Apple and their love/hate relationship may soon be over.  In AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega’s 3rd Quarter earnings call he trumpeted 3.2 million 3rd quarter activations which were the highest ever, then downplayed the iPhone as only one part of its smart phone portfolio.

De la Vega implied that the carrier’s exclusive deal with Apple to carry the iPhone in the U.S. could end. When asked about the exclusive relationship, de la Vega didn’t provide any specifics, but he did say that if AT&T loses that exclusivity it will still offer a better iPhone 3GS than potential competitors because the device runs on the company’s HSPA 7.2 network. “The iPhone will work better on our network than on anyone else’s network,” he said.

This is interesting as AT&T is going to stay with HSPA 7.2 instead going to HSPA+ 7.2 as the other U.S. GSM carrier, T-Mobile, has.  This will leave AT&T behind in the speed chase to get to LTE which is still a few years.  I say….Hmmm…
But it’s not clear that Verizon Wireless (VZW) will be launching the iPhone. Although it was rumored to be in discussions with Apple, there has been no confirmation of a deal. And with Verizon’s recent ad campaign for the Droid device, which openly mocks the iPhone by telling consumers “iDon’t have a real keyboard,” and “iDon’t run simultaneous apps,” and adds that, “everything iDon’t, DroidDoes,” it seems unlikely that Verizon will be launching an iPhone any time soon.  If you haven’t seen the ‘droiddoes’ commercial currently airing from VZW, it clearly is a kick in the nether region to Apple.  To view the video, click the following link to check it out:  http://bit.ly/1eDjNf

Nevertheless, if AT&T doesn’t already have a post-iPhone strategy, it better come up with one fast. Judging from de la Vega’s comments, the company is putting a lot of faith in its new emerging devices division, which has secured several promising deals with ereaders such as the Barnes & Noble Nook and Amazon’s international version of the Kindle. But it’s going to take a lot of connected devices to make up for potential losses that the company may face if another U.S. operator launches an iPhone.

I blog on smartphone technology and ‘Smart’ Social Media applications; if you enjoyed this post, you can find more at http://davidrscott.wordpress.com.  You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn under davidrscott.

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