Early last month, AT&T assured its investors that if it were to lose Apple iPhone exclusivity, it wouldn’t have to worry about the loss of subscribers or a large negative impact on subscribers and earnings. Today, AT&T chief Randall Stephenson allowed the carrier to beat its chest once again saying that if the iPhone were to go to competing carriers, it wouldn’t be a big deal. Stephenson says that two-thirds of AT&T’s iPhone users were with the carrier prior to owning the Apple smartphone and they would likely stay.
He also hinted at big sales and mentioned that there was a “record number” of subscribers upgrading to the iPhone 4 this summer. These would be locked into an extended contract that would make it difficult to switch, Stephenson said. The statements also gave an opportunity to reiterate beliefs that corporate and family plans would save AT&T, as 80 percent are in non-individual plans that are costlier or more impractical to leave.
It seems AT&T is incredibly confident that given its business and family user base, losing the Apple handset to Verizon, or even T-Mobile or Sprint, isn’t such a big deal. However, some studies and surveys have shown numbers as high as a third of current AT&T iPhone users considering a switch if the iPhone became available for Verizon.
Many Apple iPhone customers who were with AT&T prior to the Apple smartphone’s release didn’t suffer the same issues that the phone brought onto the network later due to heavy saturation of users. AT&T customers in New York City and San Francisco, the two cities that seem to be performing the worst, may be more inclined to leave for Verizon if it were to get the iPhone.
Stephenson has also asserted listeners at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York City that diversity is just as important, citing the selection of smartphones that AT&T currently carries, including the Samsung Captivate with Android.