ATandT Claims Smartphone Users Are Choosing Its Service

AT&T is claiming that twice as many smartphone users are choosing its service in the United States than other competitors, which include Sprint and Verizon Wireless. AT&T, which continues to have exclusive rights to the Apple iPhone, claims in its May 15 report that more than 30 percent of its postpaid subscribers use a smartphone, such as the BlackBerry Bold or the Nokia E71x.

AT&T is claiming that twice as many smartphone users are choosing its service in the United States compared to competing options from the likes of Sprint and Verizon Wireless.

In a May 15 statement, AT&T claims that "independent market research" showed that twice as many smartphone users have picked its service plan compared to other carriers. In a statement, AT&T did not mention which firm conducted the research, however, a spokesman for the company later wrote that M: Metrics, which is owned by ComStat, conducted the survey.

AT&T, which is best known for its exclusive contract with Apple, did not specifically mention the iPhone in its release. Instead, AT&T cited the success the company has had with Research In Motion's BlackBerry Bold smartphone and Nokia's E71x device.

What might be more interesting than AT&T's claims against its competitors is the fact that about one-third of its customers now own an integrated smartphone device, which shows how popular these handsets are becoming to both consumers and business users.

AT&T said its customers are not only interested in smartphones that use an operating system, such as Microsoft Windows Mobile or Symbian, but also in devices that the carrier calls "quick messaging phones." These types of phones offer a QWERTY keyboard and allow for text messages, IM chats and picture sharing.

The second half of 2009 is expected to be a busy one for both device makers as well as carriers. Palm is expected to launch its Pre smartphone on Sprint's network in the coming weeks and Apple is expected to launch a new iPhone along with a revamped OS as well. (AT&T is, of course, the iPhone carrier.)

Later, RIM is expected to roll out more BlackBerry devices, including a follow up to its touch-screen Storm model. Samsung just announced the heir to its BlackJack device, which is also coming to AT&T, would hit the market by May 19.

The fact that AT&T did not mention the iPhone in its release is somewhat surprising considering the amount of sales it has generated for the carrier. In the last month, stories have spread that not only is AT&T interested in renewing its relationship with Apple, but Verizon has also approached Apple about a possible partnership for the iPhone or other Apple devices.

In 2008, AT&T claims it invested more than $20 billion in its network, and the carrier is expected to invest another $17 billion to $18 billion this year.