Apple: AT&T a “great” partner (but will they get the tablet?)

January 26, 2010

appleiphoneFew relationships in the technology world are as closely scrutinized as that between iPhone maker Apple and its exclusive U.S. carrier, AT&T. Complaints about AT&T and its network have reached a crescendo in recent months, and most analysts believe it is only a matter of time before rival Verizon Wireless gets the iPhone, perhaps as early as this June.

When Apple executive were asked about AT&T on a conference call Monday — following its strong December quarter results — Apple executives played nice, to no one’s surprise

“AT&T is a great partner,” said Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook.  He continued: “in the vast majority of locations we think that iPhone customers are having a great experience, from the research that we have done. As you know, AT&T has acknowledged that they are having some issues in a few cities and they have very detailed plans to address these. We have reviewed these plans and we have very high confidence they will make significant progress towards fixing them.”

Apple’s earnings report set the stage for its gala launch on Wednesday of its “latest creation” (read tablet), an event which should include no small amount of drama around what wireless carrier Apple picks for the device, which is expected to be 3G-enabled. The current rumor du jour holds that AT&T rival Verizon Wireless will get the nod.

Apple sold 8.7 million iPhones in the holiday quarter, a good but not necessarily eye-popping performance. The company said 70 percent of Fortune 100 companies are now actively actively piloting or deploying it. In China, where the device went on sale at the end of October, Apple has activated more than 200,000 units so far.

“We have just really got going in China. I really like what I see so far. Although the average income is not nearly as high as perhaps the United States and some other western European markets, there is a significant sized middle class,” Cook said.

And outside of the iPhone, what about Apple’s mobile strategy? The company recently bought mobile ad firm Quattro Wireless after reportedly being outbid by new frenemy Google for another private firm AdMob.

Apple finance chief Peter Oppenheimer didn’t try to shed much light on the matter: “I think mobile advertising is just in its infancy. And with the great folks that we have acquired and are going to be working with at Quattro we look forward to providing our developers with a great opportunity for mobile advertising.”

And about that blossoming rivalry with Google, which has been the talk of Silicon Valley?

Oppenheimer said simply, “We work with Google in some areas and we compete with them in others.”


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Is Apple really gunning for Google? (or visa versa)
Perhaps we will learn more about Apple’s strategy as it launches this much-hyped tablet computer. Certainly that might help explain its purchase of ad network Quattro Wireless.
Wouldn’t Apple be more interested in being like Nokia – which is the dominant smartphone manufacturer (let alone dominant mobile device manufacturer) – than Google (an advertising giant).
All Nokia internet-ready phones (the sales of which dwarf Apple) ship with bookmarks straight into Nokia sites, as well as having Nokia apps, such as maps, on board. And Nokia’s ad network sells the space.
To date Apple is still predominantly a hardware manufacturer, its nice stuff and gets a lot of hype (for a relatively small player in the phone market), but its just hardware. In the future what will the margins be on making phones? Apple provides the platform for other companies to distribute their content – Apps, music – to iPhone/iPod/tablet customers. When iPhone users surf the net they’re going straight to Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, AOL, along with mobile sites of operators, broadcasters, publishers etc.
Doesn’t it make sense for Apple to become a mobile destination, like Nokia, either through partnership, development or acquisition? Why is everyone convinced Apple is gunning for Google? uys-quattro

Posted by mobiThinking | Report as abusive

It’s time for Apple to undo this ignoble alliance and move on into the free market, at last. Either that, or waste billions in marketing to avoid being seen as a handmaiden to TBTF AT&T.

Posted by HBC | Report as abusive