Senin, 04 Agustus 2008

Randall Stephenson, the recently christened AT&T chairman and CEO, is the mastermind behind the $199 Apple iPhone 3G. Hes also the architect behind an extended exclusivity deal with Apple.

USA Today is reporting that Stephenson, the man who agreed to pay Apple about $300 per device to help keep the retail price of the iPhone reasonable, has inked a deal that will give AT&T some breathing room to profit from the phones.

AT&T has reportedly extended its agreement with Apple to remain the exclusive retailer of the iPhone through 2010 to compensate for the diluted earnings in the initial years of the contract. Stephenson took a risk, and it looks like it might pay off for AT&T under the new deal.

"The iPhone has repositioned AT&T as the premier wireless brand in the world," Stephenson told USA Today. "Were all about wireless. Were not betting on handsets. Were betting on Jobs."


Theres been plenty of talk on online job boards about AT&Ts move. Some smartphone users are frustrated that the exclusivity deal has been extended because they want to use the phone with their carrier of choice.

Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Forrester Research, said it wouldnt make much of a difference for U.S. consumers anyway.

"Because of technology challenges in the U.S., the only other carrier the iPhone is compatible with is T-Mobile," Gartenberg said. "The wireless technology is so radically different that Apple would have to come up with an entirely new phone in order to have a product that would work on Verizon or Sprints network."

The issue goes even deeper. If Apple decided to offer an unlocked, open version of the iPhone that was unsubsidized tomorrow, consumers still wouldnt enjoy the maximum iPhone experience with any carrier besides AT&T. "T-Mobiles 3G network is very different than AT&Ts," Gartenberg said. "You wouldnt even be getting the full 3G experience with T-Mobile."


Neither Apple nor AT&T could immediately be reached for comment. But it doesnt surprise Gartenberg that AT&T would attempt to maintain its exclusive relationship with Apple for as long as possible, considering how much the carrier has vested in the deal.

"The iPhone is a very different product than the rest of AT&Ts products. Its a product where AT&T doesnt really control the entire customer relationship. Its the product that has the least AT&T branding. Its the product that has no AT&T services on it other than voice and data. Ringtones and applications go through Apple," Gartenberg said. "So presumably, Apple is providing enough to AT&T and AT&T is providing enough to Apple, and it makes sense for both of them to continue going forward."


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