AT&T Not Worried About Verizon iPhone
The question of just what AT&T will do when it loses iPhone exclusivity is a difficult one to escape these days given persistent rumors that the carrier’s deal with Apple is nearing expiration. By some estimates, nearly a third of AT&T’s post-paid customers are sticking with the company largely because it is Apple’s (AAPL) only iPhone carrier in the U.S.
Does AT&T’s leadership worry that it will face slowing growth and worse, defections, if rumors we’ve been hearing of a Verizon iPhone pan out? Not really.
According to AT&T Wireless CEO Ralph de la Vega, the end of AT&T’s iPhone exclusivity deal doesn’t portend a mass subscriber exodus because switching to a new carrier is simply too hard. Evidently, many AT&T customers are tied to family-talk plans or business-discount plans, which makes switching to a new carrier a difficult proposition.
They’re “sticky” plans, said de la Vega. And he’s got a point. Convincing an employer to switch to a new carrier or migrating a handful of family-plan phones from, say, AT&T (T) to Verizon (VZ), does seem a bit daunting.
Will there be some AT&T subscribers who bolt to the next carrier to offer the iPhone? Certainly. But they may not be nearly as large in number as you might think, particularly if AT&T continues to improve its network and remove incentives for leaving.