Making comments during the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference on Thursday, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson took the opportunity to talk about the upcoming iPhone 5 and how it relates to competition. In his remarks, Mr. Stephenson was quotes as saying, “anytime there’s another competitor launching Apple’s hit device, the expectations for what would happen to the carrier that had it before is overblown,” Stephenson said. ”The competitive dynamic will be no different than last time…”
When he says “last time”, what he’s referring to is when Verizon Wireless started selling the iPhone 4 last year, which removed the exclusivity that AT&T had on the iPhone. This year for the iPhone 5, the field is full of competitors who will be offering the iPhone 5. Sprint, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, and even Best Buy are all expected to sell the iPhone 5 along with AT&T. The field of competition has never been more full for a new iPhone release.
The presence of competition, according to what AT&T’s CEO is saying, is that the impact if nominal. I find this hard to believe though. How can you go from the only company selling the iPhone, to now having 3 or more competitors and not feel the pain of the lost market share?
And to make matters even more competitive for AT&T is the fact that Sprint could very well be offering unlimited data to their iPhone 5 customers. Both AT&T and Verizon Wireless have recently removed their unlimited data packages and are now offering two different limited data plans.
Currently, AT&T offers three different data packages:
- DataPlus: 200MB for $15 per month
- DataPro: 2GB for $25 per month
- DataPro 4GB: 4GB for $45 per month
With the two higher end data packages, if you actually exceed those allotted amounts you’ll be charged an additional $10 per 1GB of data used. With the 4GB package you’ll also be able to turn your device into a WiFi hotspot, allowing up to provide data connectivity to other laptops, smartphones, and tablet devices.
Even with Sprint offering their unlimited data plans, I don’t necessarily think it will cause a mass exodus from AT&T and Verizon. If you are using 2GB and 4GB of data on your wireless device, you are consuming a lot of data, far beyond what the normal user would consume in any given month. So I don’t believe this will be a huge game-changer for Sprint, or for AT&T and Verizon Wireless as far as customers leaving for the unlimited data at Sprint.
But the fact that other competitors are in the market place selling the iPhone, and that not having an impact on AT&T is a bit hard to believe.
It’ll be interesting to follow the comparative sales figures once the new iPhone 5 does finally arrive. The latest rumor mill puts the iPhone 5 keynote speech happening on October 4th with a release date of the iPhone 5 a couple of weeks later.