updated 11:40 am EDT, Thu October 20, 2011
ATT gets rush of demand after free iPhone 3GS
AT&T is seeing an unprecedented uptake of the iPhone 3GS after price cuts and just recently going free on contract, the company's wireless head Ralph de la Vega said during a call discussing summer results. There was still "tremendous demand" for the now two-year-old phone to the point where inventory was being sold out. It was also the phone of choice for more new customers than any non-iPhone device.
The executive went so far as to see it as a launching point for the future of the company. Like Apple, he saw every cellphone becoming a smartphone. He estimated it would take two to three years before every AT&T cellphone was a smartphone, up from about two thirds today. This was a "huge opportunity," he said.
The fall launch of the iPhone 4S and the now-free 3GS pricing were poised to lead AT&T to its best smartphone sales ever in the fall, de la Vega added. His network always saw more first-time smartphone adopters going into an iPhone launch, but there was anticipation that "greater numbers" would be moving either from a basic phone or a messaging phone.
He also dropped a hint that there would be "more tiered data options" in the future to help accommodate what customers wanted. These are more likely to cater to the high end than the low end, particularly as the company just switched on its LTE 4G network and plans to add LTE smartphones soon.