Wednesday, April 15, 2009

ATT Wants Lock On IPhone

The Wall Street Journal - When Randall Stephenson became AT&T Inc.'s chief executive, the company had just started offering the iPhone. The blockbuster device has since reeled in millions of new customers and helped revitalize the telecom giant's brand.

But AT&T's exclusive deal to carry the iPhone in the U.S. expires next year, according to people familiar with the matter, and Mr. Stephenson is now in discussions with Apple Inc. to get an extension until 2011.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment, saying only, "We have a great relationship with AT&T."

Keeping the iPhone away from rivals and finding the next hit devices, such as smart phones and multimedia handheld tablets, are among the challenges the 48-year-old CEO faces as he shifts AT&T's energy away from the crumbling U.S. landline phone business and into the wireless market, where technologies evolve quickly and hit products don't last long.

Mr. Stephenson also is seeking to overhaul AT&T's marketing to make wireless the priority. The next step, he said, is to do away with a requirement that customers have AT&T's home-phone service to qualify for discounts on TV or broadband Internet services. Being a wireless customer should be enough, he said.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123973238611017715.html#mod=testMod

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