AT&T: Netbooks key to expansion beyond cellphones?

May 19, 2009

AT&T says it sees a lot of promise for the netbook and the connection fees that come with the devices as a growing source of revenue as consumers look to take broadband connectivity on the road. But will consumers be as enthusiatic to sign another contract for the service? Click below to hear AT&T’s President of Mobile & Consumer Markets talk about what he sees as the future of the netbook.

AT&T: Netbook popularity on the rise from Reuters TV on Vimeo.

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The interview is from a phone person who started in ops with Bell South Telephone in 1976. His experience in retailing is the telephone company stores that also once tried to sell computers. AT&T will need cost containment on distribution channels. With the 2,200 company-owned stores selling netbooks and iPhones, how can the 5,000 agent-operated stores survive? And there’s another 5,000 locations of Best Buy and Radio Shack. AT&T and Verizon each have about 20,000 points of distribution. Total U.S. channels for mobile services exceed 50,000. There are 20,000 U.S. car dealerships with 10% or 2,000 being closed by GM and Chrysler. Can we anticipate 10% to 40% of mobile stores to close? Carrier-branded stores that are agent-operated would be cost-cutting. Best Buy launching the Palm Pre with in-store rebates could set the model for efficient delivery and customer fulfillment. And netbooks sold like phone bills will never be.

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