An AT&T executive indicated that the wireless carrier isn't seeing a mass exodus as Verizon Wireless markets Apple's iPhone 4.
Speaking at the Credit Suisse Convergence Conference on Wednesday, Peter Ritcher, AT&T Wireless' CFO said that "things are going pretty well as we had expected."
In a nutshell, AT&T had 90 percent of its iPhone customers under contract. Specifically, Ritcher said:
I would tell you that things are going pretty well as we had expected. So you know, we took some steps to make sure that we were prepared for the loss of exclusivity and we had quite a few of our iPhone customers, 90% under contract. And so we also have made sure that we sort of buffered in some of our marketing efforts, any promotion efforts here in the first quarter. All those items planned out and sort of in anticipation of the loss of exclusivity. And I would say, so far things are going pretty well as we expected.
Ritcher was then asked about whether the Verizon iPhone launch lived up to its billing. Ritcher declined to get drawn into answering that question. He noted that AT&T customers are on family talk plans that tend to be sticky. Couple the ability to simultaneously talk and download data on AT&T's iPhone and customers appear to be hanging out. "We believe that all those things together were going to mitigate what some felt was going to be a rather large defection of our customer base," said Ritcher.
I think you have to realize that our anticipation is that we will still sell a lot of iPhones this year even in a non-exclusive environment and at the same time, we're bringing on a number of -- we're going to have 20 new sort of 4G devices on our network this year, 12 new Android devices on our network. The rate of upgrades that we anticipate are still going to remain strong and that the percentage of our sales that we see going on the smartphones is going to increase at a strong rate even in a post-iPhone sort of environment.