For most of 2010, it seemed that AT&T spent a good chunk of its time assuring customers and investors that loss of iPhone exclusivity wouldn’t be a big deal. Most iPhone subscribers have high early termination fees to consider, and many are reportedly on family plans, making migration even more difficult. However, it seems that carrier might be taking two steps back and reconsidering what the Verizon iPhone means for its customers.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson says that the launch will make things “rocky, volatile and hard to predict” but that AT&T is “fairly confident we will grow through the disruption.”
It is worth noting that AT&T had an excellent fourth quarter and added a net 2.8 million subscribers and activated 4.1 million iPhone handsets. With its performance over that quarter, AT&T surpassed Verizon to retake the number one spot as the U.S.’s largest wireless carrier. However, its lead over Verizon is very slim, and it’s likely that it will slip once again in February when the CDMA iPhone 4 is launched.
For 2011, Stephenson says that the carrier will push Android and Windows Phone 7 devices a lot more. Stephenson admits that the carrier has done very little to pump its Android line-up, focusing primarily on its golden egg – the iPhone.
[AT&T Chief Financial Officer Rick Lindner] said AT&T presumes there will be strong sales of all smartphones in 2011. “We’ll have a tremendous device portfolio for customers,” he said. AT&T even expects success by selling iPhone 3G devices at $49, he said.
The carrier has already been simplifying its plans and reportedly granting unlimited data to those who ask for it as a preventative measure for customers considering defecting to Verizon. However, with many users complaining about the iPhone carrier’s coverage and service, and many more who have been waiting for ages for a Verizon iPhone, it seems like it’s too little, too late for Big Blue when it comes to those with their hearts set on switching.