Its Time for ATandT to Diversify Its Smartphone Offerings

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-01-27 Print this article Print

5. Warm up to RIM.

Lost amid all the talk of the iPhone and Verizon is Research In Motion. It's important for AT&T to remember that RIM is still the top enterprise choice in the market. If AT&T can continue to get early access to some of RIM's newest BlackBerry devices it will be able to make a strong pitch to business customers. The iPhone is extremely important and the consumer space is a great market to make money in, but the enterprise is just as valuable to AT&T. It shouldn't forget that.

6. Market the iPhone's international support.

One of the key shortcomings in Verizon's iPhone is its inability to work on GSM networks around the world. AT&T's iPhone 4, on the other hand, does have global support. Especially in the case of enterprise customers, AT&T should make that reality well-known. If it does, it might be able to retain some world-traveling customers that would shift to an international wireless carrier. Granted, that's not a big portion of the iPhone market, but in its battle with Verizon, AT&T should be looking for any way to win customers.

7. Capitalize on Verizon's inevitable mistakes.

So far, Verizon has played its iPhone cards quite well. The company has revealed useful information about the phone and wireless plans; it has sought to accommodate the right customers; and it has said all the right things to investors. But in the next few months, Verizon will inevitably commit some missteps that AT&T will capitalize on if it is smart. As AT&T showed with the iPhone 4's botched pre-ordering process, huge iPhone demand alone can cause serious marketing mistakes for the wireless carriers. Under such conditions even mighty Verizon can make mistakes. When it does, AT&T should instantly highlight those problems in its marketing efforts and present itself as a capable alternative. It's the easiest way for the company to look good.

8. Try getting the iPhone 5 first.

So far, Apple has not revealed plans for the iPhone 5. The company also hasn't said how it will handle new-product cycles, now that Verizon is in the mix. Right now, AT&T should be negotiating with Apple to see if it can get a six-month head start with the iPhone 5. Not only would it keep some customers from going to Verizon, but it should also give the company some time to market its advantages over its top competitor. It might be a stretch for AT&T to pull it off, but it's worth a try.

9. Build a better relationship with Motorola.

Motorola currently offers its best smartphones on Verizon's network. The company's Droid X is arguably the best alternative to the iPhone 4. The Motorola Droid Pro is the best enterprise-focused Android smartphone on the market. AT&T should do everything it can to start building a better relationship with Motorola. It's becoming more obvious by the month that Motorola is delivering the best iPhone alternatives. So if AT&T can find a way to get that company's best products on its side, it could limit Verizon's growth.

10. Go after the profits.

At the end of it all, AT&T is a for-profit public company that has a responsibility to shareholders. And those shareholders are looking for profits. So, AT&T should find the areas where it makes the highest margins, and ensure that those aspects of its operation are growing. At the same time, it should seek areas that are likely to be highly profitable in the coming years and focus efforts there. If it can continue to post strong profits, the loss of the iPhone won't be nearly as worrisome as it is right now. 


Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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