Apple will release a 3G iPhone next year, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said Nov. 28.
Apples current iPhone, introduced earlier this year under an exclusive contract with AT&T, runs on the companys slower EDGE network.
Speaking at a Churchill Club appearance in Santa Clara, Calif., Stephenson did not elaborate on a specific release date or the price of an iPhone running on AT&Ts fastest broadband network.
"Youll have it next year," he said about a 3G iPhone. As for price, Stephenson said Apple CEO Steve Jobs "will dictate what the price of the phone is."
During the wide-ranging question-and-answer session during his Churchill Club appearance, Stephenson said the iPhones success proved to him how poorly the industry has approached the handset business.
"How this industry has gone about the handset business is so poorly done," he said. "The iPhone is the first shot across the bow. Here is this device that has such usability and functionality built into it, you can make a little money selling the handset and you can share the [subscription] revenue stream with the handset maker."
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Stephenson also used the event to scoff at Verizons splashy Nov. 27 announcement that it plans to open its network to hardware and software not sold by the company. AT&T, he declared, is "probably one of the most open networks in the world."
"We have thousands of people developing into our architecture today. All of the handsets we sell are Java-equipped. Who doesnt know how to develop into Java, right?" Stephenson said. "If you want to buy a handset on our network without a contract, fine. Just pay retail price for the handset. Right? The only reason we make people sign a contract is if were subsidizing it heavily."
He added, "[All carriers] are all going to be open over time."
As for a possible challenge from Google in the wireless space, Stephenson again stressed the "inevitable" move to open networks. He called a possible Google phone or a system supported by Googles open Android stack "interesting, well take a look at it. Itll be interesting to see if they can develop a carrier-class, scaled operating system."
Ultimately, though, he said, "Our customers dont say they want a network. They say they want that phone and that capability. The company that wins over time will have the best quality and the best coverage."
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