One thing that was overlooked — and perhaps strategically underplayed — during its fourth quarter earnings call is that AT&T is now the nation’s largest mobile carrier boasting 95.5 million subscribers to Verizon’s 94.1 million.
AT&T’s climb to reclaim the top spot from rival Verizon after Big Red’s acquisition of Alltel Wireless 2 years ago has been an arduous one fueled in large part by Ma Bell’s lock on Apple’s iPhone. However, that 1.4 million subscriber lead may be short-lived with iPhone exclusivity set to end within a fortnight as Verizon prepares to offer its customers a CDMA variant of the iPhone 4 beginning February 10.
Regardless of the outcome, AT&T’s fourth quarter earnings are impressive with a record 2.8 million new adds reflecting ‘rapid adoption of smartphones’, 4.1 million iPhone activations and 442,000 tablet subscribers, all contributing to $31.4 billion in total revenue (up 2.1%) and $1.1 billion in net income (down 60%).
Although growth is likely to stall this coming quarter with Apple’s darling headed to Big Red, it remains to be seen exactly how much the loss of iPhone exclusivity affects AT&T in the long run. AT&T has repeatedly emphasized it is more than just a one-trick pony touting a diverse portfolio of integrated devices and hyping its accelerated deployment of ‘4G’ mobile broadband technologies such as HSPA+ and LTE. In any case, increased efforts to upgrade and improve the existing network to be on par with its device offerings would go a long way to silence critics and keep the momentum in AT&T’s favor.
That’s right. On October 28, you’ll be able to walk into a Verizon Wireless or AT&T store and walk out with an Apple iPad. Verizon will be selling the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB WiFi versions of Apple’s tablet bundled with a MiFi Mobile Hotspot for $629, $729, and $829 respectively. Data plans start at $20 for 1GB of data per month and are commitment-free.
AT&T will be matching Big Red’s prices on iPad hardware except that they are offering the 3G + WiFi models obviating the need for a separate device for mobile data. AT&T’s data plans are the same metered ones they introduced in June for smartphones: $15 for 250MB/mo or $25 for 2GB/mo. Note that AT&T’s data plans for iPad are also unfettered of the bonds of contractual obligation.
Official press releases after the break.
So, who’s getting one for the holidays?
If you are on Verizon or Sprint and were planning on getting a Windows Phone 7 device for the holidays, it looks like you’ll be getting an IOU courtesy of Microsoft. Windows Phone 7 will be GSM only in 2010. Product manager at Microsoft Greg Sullivan recently spoke to CNET:
We had to make some trade-offs. Even Microsoft doesn’t have unlimited resources. We had to prioritize doing fewer things, really, really well….For the worldwide market, the vast majority of phones are GSM phones, so we focused on GSM first and then plan to deliver an update that will have great CDMA support in the first half of 2011.
The statement from Microsoft comes shortly after Verizon announced it would not have any WP7 devices in its lineup this year. AT&T has gone on the record stating it will be the ‘premier launch partner’ for Windows Phone 7. A T-Mobile WP7 device in 2010 is not out of the question, either. Expect Windows Phone 7 to launch worldwide on October 11
at an event in New York City.
Source: CNET via SlashGear
Could the Samsung Galaxy Tab be coming to AT&T as well? It’s a distinct possibility now that a version of the device has been unearthed in an FCC filing under the name “SHW-M180S”. This version of Samsung’s slate boasts HSDPA connectivity and a quad-band GSM radio that includes an AT&T-friendly 1900MHz radio frequency. An even juicier tidbit is revealed in the paperwork: dual-band 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi that should allow for greater building penetration as well as speeds in excess of 100Mbps. At this rate, we may see a version of the Galaxy Tab launch on every major carrier before the year is through.
Sources: FCC, Global Certification Forum via Engadget
File this under all sorts of cool. It seems that the unlock code for Samsung’s Galaxy S is stored in a .BAK file on the phone itself. The code can be extracted with a hex editor and then entered into the phone during SIM installation. No rooting required.
Sources: Engadget, XDA Developers
Being a huge proponent of webOS and an owner of the original Palm Pre, I am trying not to get my hopes up, but I have heard rumblings that the online stores of both AT&T and Verizon are sold out of Palm Pre Pluses. Checking their respective websites reveals that the AT&T online store is indeed ‘temporarily out of stock’ while Verizon is still listing it at $29.99 with a two year contract. Availability is most likely region specific, but if it is indeed true that the Pre Plus reserves are finally drying up, we could see an announcement of the next generation webOS device soon. Although I would love to see some new Palm hardware before the end of the year, I doubt anything will materialize until TI’s OMAP 4 is ready to go sometime in early 2011.
Update: As of early morning August 20, I can confirm that Palm’s Pre Plus is now back in stock at the online stores of both AT&T and Verizon.
Sources: AT&T, Verizon, PreCentral