AT&T chief: 3G iPhone right around the corner; Will iPhone demand freeze?

AT&T chief: 3G iPhone right around the corner; Will iPhone demand freeze?

Summary: AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson stated the obvious: A 3G version of the iPhone is coming in 2008. But Stephenson's comments may freeze demand for the iPhone.

SHARE:

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson stated the obvious: A 3G version of the iPhone is coming in 2008. But Stephenson's comments may freeze demand for the iPhone. Why buy a relatively slow iPhone when you can get a 3G one next year?

Sometimes you have to wonder how coordinated Apple and AT&T are. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has alluded to the 3G iPhone before, but never put out a rough timeline like Stephenson did. According to Bloomberg, Stephenson said "You'll have it next year." Stephenson was speaking at the Churchhill Club in Santa Clara on Wednesday.

So why could Stephenson inadvertently put the freeze on iPhone sales? With the iPhone (all resources) it's all about the network. And the biggest complaint about the iPhone is AT&T's slow EDGE network. Turbo charge the iPhone with 3G and a lot of complaints disappear.

Perhaps the average iPhone craving bear won't wait for the 3G version, but some percentage of prospective buyers will. That means Stephenson's comments can't be music to Jobs' ears. To bring up the 3G phone explicitly during this holiday shopping season isn't the way Jobs likes to operate. He treats Apple's product plans, even if obvious, like state secrets. Those who violate the cone of silence are infidels to be banished from the tribe or sued.

Stephenson won't be banished by Jobs for violating Apple protocol. It's not the first time he has stated the obvious, although he was more specific this time. On October 23 Stephenson said there would be a 3G iPhone, during his visit to the Web 2.0 Summit. But Jobs can't be too happy this morning, especially if the 3G iPhone continues to be the buzz and it won't be ready soon, as in for Macworld in January. If not, iPhone sales could be dragged down as customers wait for the second coming.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, iPhone, Networking, AT&T, Wi-Fi

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

19 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Never had to wait....

    I have had a 3G phone now for almost 1 year now. Never understood the Apple fanatics that rushed out to buy one of these phones and now they complain about the slow network. The people who tried to warn them got blasted as "anti-Apple" and "Steve Jobs" haters.

    I actually liked the iPhone. The design and user interface are great. One of Apple's strong suits has always been usability. HOWEVER, why they built this on older technology. IMHO, I think Apple/Jobs got pushed into this by shareholders that were unwilling to wait.

    My only issues with the iPhone were the slow network, no corporate email support, think GoodLink's Good Messaging, and finally, no way to tether to a laptop for internet connection. My old phone was a Cingluar 8125, email worked great, but Interent was slow. Upgraded to the 8525, the 3G performance has been great.
    aulax@...
    • Its not the American Consumers benefiting out of the iphone

      In Asia where 3G is still not around, iphone really is making waves. Apart from apple's home ( U.S ) , iphone will still sell well in rest of the world. An unlocked iphone though costs pretty much ( about 700 $ ) , still there are takers and this phone is not easily available across the counters ( you have to wait for atleast a week to get hold of the phone ). Perhaps , thats where the demand will come from even if 3G is launched.

      Coming first half of '08 , apple is going to have a series of launches in the whole of Asia. Even if at home apple's demand slows due to 3G speculation, the sales register for the present version will still keep ringing and we will see apple / jobs smiling their way to the bank !
      padcotprakash@...
  • "lots of complaints disappear"?

    not just slowness of 2.5G the complaints about AT&T have ranged from roaming data access charges to $ 3.99 a minute calls from some countries. Wont go away with 3G...
    vmirchan
  • Demand probably won't change

    Anyone who's bought a gadget before knows that by this time next year (or the year after, the latest), there will be a smaller, faster, better, more feature-complete, cheaper version of the same thing. The family of iPods show us this very clearly. As soon as the first iPhone came out, people were speculating and/or vowing to hold out for the second-gen iPhone. Everyone who owns one knows that one is coming out. If anyone who owns an iPhone bought it assuming that Apple wasn't coming out with one, they're too stupid to be in public unsupervised.

    People who want a current iPhone are going to get one, the holdouts will wait. That's the way it is. The announcement of 3 isn't going to change that.

    Joey
    voyager529
    • Agreed

      Also, not all areas offer 3G connectivity. Mine doesn't.
      matt.nelson
  • Job's Rough Timeline

    "Steve Jobs has alluded to the 3G iPhone before, but
    never put out a rough timeline like Stephenson did"

    Steve Jobs on 3G (based on battery life) in September:
    "Hopefully we'll see that late next year.''
    BlogWatcher
    • BlogWatcher, please don't spoil

      Larry's view with facts!
      Piot
  • I Love 3G!

    We just got 3G in our area and my 8525 is amazingly fast now surfing the web and downloading e-mail to my mobile device...

    Wait for the next Gen Iphone, I was going to get one but without 3G and with the amount of e-mail traffic I get to my phone I'm going to sit it out and wait.
    itanalyst
  • Consumers will continue to buy

    The iPhone presents a lot more to the average consumer than the
    potential of 3G. The average consumer will probably focus on the
    phone and iPod features, with some internet use. The speed
    increase 3G offers them will not be that important, especially if it
    drains a battery faster.

    For me, increases in memory at the same price is way ahead of
    3G, as is the potential of an Intel platform. Throw in the potential
    from the SDK being released in February and I could care less
    about 3G - mainly because I would seldom use it and prefer
    longer battery life.

    It all depends on the customer and how they will use the iPhone.
    Ken_z
  • Buying obsolete tech just because it's apple.

    This should have happened long back. 3G / GPRS / EDGE is all over the world, and these phones have been available from competitors for quite a long time now and at much lower prices than the ripoff iphone rates.

    Maybe this first iphone was just to test the waters, make a bunch of apple fans blinded by brand loyalty pay for it and get a better product out in a year. Sure seems like it.

    That's what you get for being a blind fanboy.
    kraterz
  • RE: AT

    This is all much about nothing. The iPhone is
    essentially a wifi device that uses Edge for data access
    when a Wifi network is not around.

    For me - in the UK - Edge works more than adequately
    when it is needed. The iphone using Edge is more easy
    to use and more efficient than any other smartphone
    I've used (including the Treo).

    In practice I don't need 3G - and neither do most other
    people, which is why it is so slow to take off.

    A 3G iPhone would be welcome but battery life will be a
    consideration as will be contract costs.

    I don't need a 3G version and wouldn't worry about not
    having it. For most of us the normal iPhone is more
    than adequate.

    Ultimately, I guess some proprietary applications -
    once they're developed - can deliver real added value.
    It might take a company like Apple to really begin to
    use 3G well. But the normal iPhone will be around for a
    while yet. Critics miss the point about the iPhone.
    Maybe there are better options in individual areas but
    taken overall the iphone is just simply a better mobile
    phone.
    andy.howell@...
  • RE: AT

    THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.
    THIS IS THE PHONE I WANT AND I PLAN TO WANT.

    EUGENE
    ratom55@...
  • Another example of how stupid AT&T is

    Yes we all knew a 3G iPhone was coming, but to make this public statement in the middle of the biggest shopping period of the year is just another example of what kind of idiots are running AT&T.
    steven.g.kahn@...
    • It may be Genius....

      There may now be a Christmas "Sale."
      jlhughes@...
    • What's wrong with some honesty ?

      So what's so very wrong with a bit of honesty? I'd be peeved if I bought one then found 3G available soon after. Many folk won't mind the current spec for all they do, others will.

      All hail some common sense instead of some scumbag grabbing our money with some sales scam. Hear Hear, and praise this maverick for applying some common sense above sales pitch!

      He may be an idiot on a money grabbbing corporate sense but that doesn't make him a bad person to the buyers. I don't think he's an idiot, and I appreciate some frank comments from the man.

      ps I do have access to an iphone. The iphone looks fantastic as a web browsing, media gadget. Text input is absurdly horrible though and would stop me even thinking about buying one. 3G, proper support for corporate exchange/outlook, and a stylus are must-haves as far as I'm concerned. I'll be waiting on all of these personally.
      johnmckay
  • RE: AT

    As far as I'm concerned, any tech writer who seriously thinks the iPhone is "all about the network" is smoking some pretty serious dope -- you're still with the pre-iPhone crowd that thinks cell phone design doesn't matter, just the speed of the network . . . which is pure poppycock. Yes, a G3 version of the iPhone will emerge, and yes, probably, other carriers besides AT&T will be invited to the party when their exclusive contract with Apple -- which was absolutely necessary in order to integrate the phone's groundbreaking feature set -- runs out.

    The genius of the iPhone has nothing particularly to do with the speed of the network; after all, it is Wifi compatible, and jumps on the Net with high-speed aplomb. The genius of the iPhone is its makes-way-too-much-sense interface and its high-level, intuitive integration of functions as a convergence device. My son has one, and it is easy to see that this is the real attraction -- that and the fact that developers can actually develop for the phone and extend its functionality. Sorry, but I am sick and tired of hearing this baseless, tired old saw!
    TCollinsG3
  • iPhone G3

    I got mine just after the price went to 300.00 i like it except for the batt life sux.
    I will get a G3 when it come out and ebay this one away. Best phone for me, but come on give me a batt that will last the day the way i use it will you.

    mark
    www.just100dollarbills.com
    sacguy123@...
  • RE: AT

    Maybe if they made the PHONE part work as a damn phone.
    Volume sucks
    guiri
  • Yes

    I for one plan to wait for the 3G iPhone as well as the SDK and I'm sure there are others that'll wait for the 3G iPhone as well. Announce any upcoming new product that will soon replace the existing line of products and naturally most people will wait it out and sales will plumit during that time...

    - John Musbach
    John Musbach