AT&T's CEO Speaks Candidly About Unlimited Data, iMessage

Chief executives probably have plenty of things to regret. Running multi-national corporations isn't easy, and when making snap decisions, you can often get things a little wrong. Sometimes, you don't even know it's wrong until the entire landscape of things changes. AT&T has seen huge, huge growth in recent years, largely due to the iPhone. And at the start, offering unlimited 3G data for $30/month seemed like a fair deal. They had to price data in a way that would convince dumbphone buyers to take on another monthly fee, and they had plenty of access to sell. But, things change. Now, AT&T's network in many places (SF, NYC, etc.) is oversaturated, and many carriers have moved to tiered data plans in order to try and cope with the changing usage scenarios out there.

Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s chief executive, recently spoke at a wireless conference about the woes of data. In fact, it's kind of surprising that he'd even say this. Here's a quote: "My only regret was how we introduced pricing in the beginning, because how did we introduce pricing? Thirty dollars and you get all you can eat. And it’s a variable cost model. Every additional megabyte you use in this network, I have to invest capital. You lie awake at night worrying about what is that which will disrupt your business model. Apple iMessage is a classic example. If you’re using iMessage, you’re not using one of our messaging services, right? That’s disruptive to our messaging revenue stream."

Surprisingly frank. But honestly, now that data tiers are in place, it's strange to hear him harping on the past. This certainly won't go over well with eagle-eared customers, and those on grandfathered unlimited plans are super likely to really, really take advantage of their options now. It's also really strange to hear AT&T's exec lashing out at an Apple feature -- without the iPhone, where would AT&T be? Well, they'd have far less saturated networks, so that's something...

Tags:  Apple, iPhone, ATT
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