updated 09:50 am EDT, Wed May 19, 2010
ATT says family, work plans keep iPhone users
AT&T's wireless chief Ralph de la Vega today dismissed talk of a Verizon iPhone triggering a rush of defections to the rival carrier. He explained at a JP Morgan conference that 70 percent of all of AT&T's customers are on family plans, which are difficult to transition wholesale to another carrier due to multiple devices. About 40 percent of subscribers have corporate plans that employers wouldn't necessarily be willing to switch over to another carrier.
Extenuating circumstances have regularly been one of the deciding factors in customers remaining with their existing carriers, as AT&T has rarely had more than a third of iPhone customers switching from another carrier. Besides family and work plan commitments, some may live in areas where AT&T doesn't offer coverage or are in employment conditions that require a particular mobile OS, such as BlackBerry or Windows Mobile.
The executive didn't go so far as to indicate that AT&T's exclusivity period for the iPhone was ending, but the remarks are unusual as the company has previously never openly addressed the prospects of other US carriers getting Apple's handset. Apple had previously confirmed that its original deal would last until 2012, but it's now believed by some that the deal could end this year and that the iPad's AT&T-only 3G support may have been an olive branch in return for a shorter contract.
De la Vega himself was enthused with the iPad, saying he was "addicted" to it and that it had "changed the way [he] work[s]." As an example, he touted that was finally able to clear his e-mail by using the Apple tablet on in-flight Wi-Fi.