AT&T on iPhone Rebound, Addicted to Exclusivity

by Matt Klassen on April 13, 2012

Despite the fact that AT&T’s sales force doesn’t yet seem sold on the Lumia 900, the telecommunications giant has promised that the continued rollout of the Nokia smartphone would be its biggest ever, surpassing even that of the iPhone. The company has already poured millions of advertising dollars into the Nokia-Microsoft project, clearly hoping the phone will be a smash hit.

Here at TheTelecomblog we’ve covered at length the potential deleterious effects that a Lumia flop would have on both Nokia and Microsoft, but have spoken little of AT&T, the only carrier to date to really throw its weight behind this third option in a market dominated by Android and iOS.

While there’s no question that AT&T could weather a Lumia disaster with little more than some egg on its collective face, I have to wonder why AT&T would want to take such a risk in the first place, supporting an unproven phone from a struggling company like Nokia sporting an unproven OS from Microsoft, and then it hit me, AT&T is on the rebound from the iPhone, looking to impetuously satiate its exclusivity addiction.

While I don’t want to undersell the Lumia 900, a device I truly think is a competent and worthy entry in the smartphone market, but I have to admit that I don’t think it’ll come anywhere close to competing with Android and iOS, likely to eek out little more than a sliver of market share. Predicting such a paltry return, however, I immediately have to wonder, does AT&T see something in Nokia, Microsoft, and the Lumia 900 that I’m missing, or is it looking at the whole arrangement through a pair of rose-coloured rebound glasses?

Ever since America’s second largest wireless carrier saw its iPhone exclusivity deal with Apple come to an end there’s been a pervasive air about the company that something important is missing, almost as if AT&T was experiencing some collective exclusivity withdrawal. Despite the fact that the exclusivity years hurt AT&T significantly in regards to its customer service and brand reputation, the company nevertheless thrived on being the centre of the gadget universe, and it’s a place the company has wanted to return to ever since.

Its here that AT&T’s decision making, in my mind at least, has fallen victim to a toxic soup of addiction and hurt, wanting so bad to return to the former glories of exclusivity and feeling so jilted by the end of its own little iPhone era that the company sought comfort in the waiting arms of the ubiquitous rebound relationship.

So enter Nokia, Microsoft, and the Lumia 900, a group of veritable mobile misfits looking for a home, and much like anyone on the rebound– in that fragile state of mind where sometimes the worst decisions appear as golden opportunities– AT&T jumped in with both feet.

Again, don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased to see more choices in the mobile market, but perhaps AT&T is making too much of the Lumia 900, trying desperately to create a winner to return the company to the Valhalla of exclusivity, convincing themselves that a mediocre choice is truly a match made in heaven.

In the end, the Lumia 900 may be a hit; it may not, only time will tell; but in the meantime I can’t help but wonder if in the wake of the end of exclusivity AT&T is making impetuous rebound choices instead of sound business decisions.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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