“Wonder why the smoking-hot 3G Apple iPhone only costs $199, less than half the price of the original? Here’s a two-word hint: Randall Stephenson,” Leslie Cauley reports for USA Today. “Stephenson, who became AT&T’s chairman and CEO a year ago, championed the idea of paying Apple about $300 per device, analysts estimate, to help hold down the retail cost.”
“It remains to be seen if AT&T’s gamble will pay off. One thing is clear: Thanks to the iPhone, the smartphone game has changed dramatically. And so have consumer perceptions of the mobile Web, a netherworld that seemed downright hostile before the iPhone showed up,” Cauley reports.
“AT&T’s role in the iPhone’s success could cement its place as the premier cellphone carrier in the USA. It’s already helped raise AT&T’s cool factor, a big deal among tweens, teens and other Web-centric customers. That’s no small feat considering the brand’s age — more than 120 years and counting,” Cauley reports.
“The iPhone has a huge impact on carriers, which tried for years to sell consumers on the idea of wireless data, says Charles Golvin, a senior wireless analyst at Forrester. ‘Then Apple came along and, in a 30-second commercial, they just made it dead simple,’ he says. That simplicity, married to the sleek iPhone design and Web-friendly function, has energized consumers, he says. It’s also raised the bar globally for carriers and established handset makers, he adds,” Cauley reports.
“You’ll get no argument from Stephenson. In a sit-down interview, he says the iPhone is central to what he sees as an ongoing transformation of AT&T. His goal: Turn the iconic company into a wireless goliath with global reach and intense customer loyalty,” Cauley reports. “‘The iPhone has repositioned AT&T as the premier wireless brand in the world,’ Stephenson says.”
“In 2005, Stephenson was quick to lend his support to an idea, first raised by Cingular CEO Stan Sigman, to pursue a handset deal with Apple,” Cauley reports. “Other telecoms, including Verizon, passed because Apple was demanding control of marketing, pricing and more. AT&T didn’t blink, however, and the iPhone partnership was born.”
“The iPhone might seem like a no-brainer now, but back then it was little more than a concept, with no name, design plan or software operating system. And it was offered by a computer company that had zip experience in wireless” Cauley reports. “
“But the idea did have one thing going for it: Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The Apple chief was convinced he could design a better smartphone, one that would make it easy — and fun — to use the mobile Web, which was just emerging. Stephenson says that’s all he needed to hear,” Cauley reports. “‘We’re not betting on the handset,’ he says, reflecting on that fateful 2005 decision to lock arms with Apple. ‘We’re betting on Jobs.'”
Much, much more in the full article – recommended – here.