So what’s up? Was it a simple slip? Or is the guy so out of touch with reality that he doesn’t realize that with a few words he has probably deferred — maybe forever — at least a million new customers worth to Wall Street at least $1 billion in market cap for his company?Well, it could be either. This is the same AT&T that couldn’t produce its own iPhone and had to make a deal with Apple; AT&T could be so out of touch that it doesn’t know what it’s doing in this announcement. And maybe Stephenson resents that so much that he does want to hurt Apple even if it hurts AT&T. If he thinks he can get away with it, it amounts to the same as being out of touch, because Apple could produce an unlocked iPhone and sell it on all AT&T’s networks, especially if Stephenson gives Jobs enough excuse to break Apple’s contract with AT&T. Or, as Cringely points out, Apple could join Google in bidding for 700Mhz spectrum, or enable its Apple computers for VoIP, or come up with something else that isn’t covered by the existing contract. Jobs and Apple know how to innovate. Telcos don’t. No wonder AT&T is scared.
I don’t think Stephenson’s statement was by accident and I don’t think he is out of touch with reality. I think, instead, he was sending a $1 billion message to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
— When Networks Collide: AT&T suddenly doesn’t like Apple so much. By Robert X. Cringely, Pulpit, PBS, 29 November 2007