Oops. AT&T CEO becomes the Grinch that stole the iPhone Christmas

Without question, THE most important thing any company can do is to ensure that they don’t muddy the waters with pre-announcements of items shipping AFTER the holidays and goof up the Christmas selling season. They call the day after Thanksgiving “Black Friday” since retailers become profitable (i.e., “in the black”) at that time and many make 60% of their yearly revenue in this critical time.

So imagine what a huge faux pas it was for AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson to reveal that a faster 3G iPhone is coming in early 2008. Will people delay an iPhone purchase until next year? If my wife is any indication, yes (she asked me at lunch today to not get her one this Christmas until “they’re faster next year”).

Just a guess based on that Bloomberg article referenced above, but this comment by Stephenson was certainly intentional to keep people from going back to Verizon or not coming over to AT&T at all (though the latter logic wouldn’t work IMHO), “AT&T, owner of the largest U.S. mobile-phone service, is using the iPhone to lure customers from its closest rival, Verizon Wireless, which announced a plan this week to open its network to any phone or software maker that meets technical specifications.

Stephenson called the Verizon Wireless plan “overblown.” “The industry’s headed that way,” he said. `We are probably one of the most open networks in the world, not just the U.S.

The iPhone is great but the AT&T network is becoming increasingly painful to use. I’ve been breaking my own rules and logging on to ANY wireless network that pops up since it takes too long to load pages with AT&T’s EDGE network. Of course, by the time a 3G iPhone ships next year I’ll be ready to buy one since I too want to go faster.

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  1. The Opinionated Blogger on November 29, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    I completely agree that the AT&T network has gone downhill. I was very upset when I heard that Cingular merged. As a Cingular customer for nearly five years, I was happy with their service. Now I am very upset with the call connectivity and customer service just to name a few.

    I think the CEO was smart for releasing this information. Most people get a new contract at the beginning of the year, like in my case, and with the only company currently carrying the IPhone they have “upgraded” it for all the people who were considering getting it.

  2. Michael Long on November 29, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    He didn’t say “early next year”. He said, and I quote, that “You’ll have it next year.” A rather significant difference, don’t you think?

    And since it’s been an open secret that 3G will be coming in 2008, he didn’t really reveal a thing. And I also notice that in your efforts to sensationalize your take on a story that everyone else is running, you omitted the Piper Jay analyst’s quote that said, “The number of shoppers who delay a purchase won’t be enough to make a difference.”

    Guess the Grinch won’t steal Christmas after all.

    See: http://www.iSights.org/2007/11/3g-iphones-defi.html

  3. Steve Borsch on November 29, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    Michael, I beg to differ with Gene Munster and a Gartner analyst concurs:

    “AT&T spills beans on faster 3G iPhone launch” [“‘It’s a pretty stupid move,’ said Van Baker, an analyst at Gartner, the market research company. ‘One big complaint about the iPhone is the” [“slower 2.5G] network. Now Stephenson’s said they’re going to have a higher-speed network next year. People are going to wait. ‘If I were Steve Jobs, I’d be very annoyed,’ Mr Baker added.”] FT.com: http://tinyurl.com/2rmkth

  4. Michael Long on November 30, 2007 at 4:38 am

    And as I pointed out in the article I linked to above, “next year” is simply too nebulous a time frame for most people to worry about.

    With Apple being Apple, “next year” could just as well be late November as early March. Notice how the iPhone and Leopard releases, said to be coming in June and October, each hit in the last week of the month. Or in other words, as late as possible while still meeting the stated deadline.

    Heck, I bought one in June knowing that there could be a newer version as early as November.

    Besides, the bigger stumbling block to 3G lies in the fact that AT&T has been slow in rolling out coverage throughout the United States. Just 38 states currently have some form of 3G support, and in many access is limited to just a handful of major metropolitan areas.

    But if you think Stephenson’s quote was a shot across the bow, then Steve could always change his line. “We’ll ship a 3G phone in the US when the network is ready for it.”

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.