Monday, July 19, 2010

The Nature of AT&T

"In a fate that will soon befall the rest of the wireless carriers, AT&T has become a mere toll-taker on the digital highway, an operator of dumb pipes that cost a fortune to maintain but garner no credit for innovation or customer service."

That's Wired Magazine speaking, above. This is a short but critical point about AT&T and what is does. AT&T has always been a dumb pipe. AT&T has never received credit for innovation, because that's now what it does. You can innovate with ancillary aspects of the business, but the core remains the same.

Imagine a shoemaker who makes dress shoes. He does not innovate about making the shoes. He doesn't make Moon Boots, or things with rockets in them. He just makes shoes, and that's great! He can innovate with artistic flourishes, but the shoe itself remains the same.

Sillier still, is that AT&T is acting as though it once was an innovator, in some long-dead halcyon days. How?! Once, AT&T was both the dumb pipe and the provider of the phone. But they only provided the phone, the drab black ones that are slowly dying as a cultural touchstone, to get you access to the dumb network for which you would pay.

AT&T's business hasn't changed! They still provide phones, which they subsidize, simply to give you access to the network for which they charge. What in the bloody blue hell is AT&T thinking? No, it's not glamorous, but it's profitable and powerful.

That doesn't mean that they can't put some foofaraws on the shoe, though. Provide service to anyone who has access to the network. A valet service. Free access to just-released movies on Netflix or the like. It's never going to be the super-gloss of Apple or other hardware makers, but, again, it's profitable.

Bad Connection: Inside the iPhone Network Meltdown


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