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AT&T Mobility President and CEO Ralph De La Vega.

"I think they just need to make it better."

AT&T Mobility President and CEO Ralph De La Vega recently spoke with All Things D's Ina Fried at length about a number of issues, including the popularity of Android, why Windows Phone 7 devices aren't selling well, and whether or not the tablet market is actually going to take off the way analysts are predicting it to.

Much of what De La Vega told Fried about AT&T's business echoes the trends emerging throughout the wireless industry:
We’ve seen a dramatic shift from feature phones and quick messaging devices, which were texting devices only, into smartphones. We love that.
Android is becoming more popular. Our Android business is doing very, very well.
What Apple has done very well [with the iPad] is killer software, but the hardware is beautiful. I think they are raising the bar very high, but this is a competitive industry. I am pretty sure the other guys are not going to sit still and let Apple have all of that [tablet] market share.
He praised Windows Phone 7 for its design, but noted why it hasn't sold well: "Giving customers more application choices, having a bigger app store with more functionality on the phone, I think that is all that it needs."

"It hasn’t sold as well as Microsoft or us would want it to, but I think having the Nokia hardware capability with the Microsoft software capability is a really good combination," he said. "Keep in mind this is the first product that Microsoft has come out with since Microsoft redid their OS. I think for the first thing out of the chute it is pretty good. I think they just need to make it better."

He called Windows 8 "a huge win" for Microsoft, and noted that all of the smartphone manufacturers are now offering AT&T their tablets to carry (including the Motorola Xoom). "The question is which ones of those are good enough to stand up to the iPad. That’s a very high bar," he said.

As for BlackBerries, De La Vega wouldn't delve too deep into reasons why they haven't sold as well as in the past. "We just see customers, in some cases choosing other products rather than traditional BlackBerries," he said. "I think customers want more applications and [RIM is] going to eventually move to where they have one OS," rather than having both QNX and OS 7.

De La Vega also praised HTC, particularly for their UI, and noted that the HTC Inspire is selling very well. 

On another note, he said that AT&T is working with the industry to shrink the size and footprint of SIM cards.

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RE: Title
By InvertMe on 6/6/2011 10:13:34 AM , Rating: 3
Most people who use WP7 phones love them. MS needs to figure out a way to make people realize WP7 is not WM and is they are "doing it right" now.

Also they need to figure out a way to make sales people stop pushing people away from WP7 to an Android device. If you go to a cell phone store an express interest in a WP7 phone the sales clerks will immediately push you to buy Android or iPhone. Fanboyism at ground zero is a killer!

For people bashing WP7 get over your preconceptions and try it. You will be impressed. WP7 is hands down the most fluid and easy to use (yet powerful) mobile OS out there.

RE: Title
By mcnabney on 6/6/2011 10:44:13 AM , Rating: 2
Sales Reps like to sell two things. Devices that pay them a higher commission/spiff and devices that don't get returned. My understanding is that the decision was made to run lots of ads for WP7 instead of incentivizing the sales force. Return rate percentages at AT&T have been highest for WP7 (with Apple way out in front of Android, with WP7 last). Sales Reps sell what customers like and what makes them money. That is how sales works. Microsoft has been too dependent on leveraging their monopoly to actually try to sell their products.

RE: Title
By SPOOFE on 6/6/2011 11:53:31 PM , Rating: 2
Sales Reps sell what customers like

It's so true. Unfortunately, there's no reason customers can't like something for lousy reasons. I'm of the opinion that a not-insignificant percentage of i-Device sales come solely from those seeking to be trendy.

RE: Title
By ekv on 6/6/2011 1:50:56 PM , Rating: 2
Also they need to figure out a way to make sales people stop pushing people away
Good luck with that. But an excellent point.

You'd figure sales staff would be surrounded by the tech and they'd at least try it out. Or that MSFT would have specific ad material to "educate" sales staff. Not sure how that works.

However, with Win 8 around the corner, and all the tablets etc. that'll use it, perhaps the ad campaign will generate sufficient interest in consumers that would in turn generate interest in sales staff.

RE: Title
By mcnabney on 6/6/2011 8:17:54 PM , Rating: 2
All this talk about W8 is just going to piss people off. To the larger market, W7 just got here. And most people just think of a nicer UI for XP without the Vista bugs. Much like the damn ribbon bars in Office, the average consumer doesn't see the need for newer stuff when the old stuff is barely used at full capacity.

RE: Title
By ekv on 6/7/2011 4:23:16 AM , Rating: 2
I know that it pisses me off. I like W7. I've got another build or two planned for W7. MSFT has a winner and they want to go fix it. Damnit, if'n it ain't broke....

And don't even get me started on the f'ing, excuse me, the crappy ribbon bars.

The alienating-consumers part of the equation is likely the largest risk factor, except for not-doing-something. If MSFT doesn't do something then there is a likelihood that Google's inferring 'Windows is irrelevant and you can do everything via the browser ...' may just pan out.

W8 is a really staggering move by MSFT (if you stop and think about it). I'm still pondering the repercussions of MSFT abandoning x86 exclusivity. It makes sense of course, but did you think you'd ever see the day? For me, I remember W95 being a "wow" upgrade. Etc. W8 running on non x86 processors? I never even thought about that angle.

Interoperability will be ... interesting, i.e. there'll be bugs to work out. But, my phone working like my desktop. Ease of use. I don't have to think about it. There's a quote attributed to Bjarne Stroustrop
I have always wished for my computer to be as easy to use as my telephone; my wish has come true because I can no longer figure out how to use my telephone.

W8 seems to address that problem.

RE: Title
By InvertMe on 6/7/2011 6:58:20 AM , Rating: 2
Just stick with W7 - it will be supported for years to come. So you have no worries about not moving to a new platform.

Windows 8 is exactly what some of my Docs want. I will be upgrading them ASAP but everyone else will stay on W7 for the next 3-4 years.

RE: Title
By lol123 on 6/7/2011 7:18:13 AM , Rating: 2
Windows hasn't been x86 exclusive for a long time (since the 3.1 days). Even Windows XP was available for Itanium, and Windows NT supported Alpha, MIPS, PowerPC and Itanium aside from x86.

It's also still doubtful that Windows 8 for ARM will be a full Windows version and not just a tablet OS sharing the same kernel. Offering the same edition of Windows for different architectures works when you are targeting enterprise customers (like with NT and XP for Itanium), but it would cause extreme confusion among consumers when they can't run any standard Windows applications.

RE: Title
By ekv on 6/8/2011 4:09:38 AM , Rating: 2
NT 4.0 was released a long time ago. Before XP. So, really, is it even usable, i.e. relevant?

Itanium of course is an Intel product. Intel basically defines the x86 ISA. Windows support of Itanium going forward is being dropped, no?

Windows CE runs on a variety of ISA's, but that gets into a rather pedantic discussion. So perhaps I ought not say "x86 exclusive" but instead talk about grafting ARM into the so-called Wintel alliance. Though that isn't really satisfying since Intel's reacting like they've been-thrown-under-the-bus.
Offering the same edition of Windows for different architectures
Your last statement doesn't quite add up because NT is (essentially) deprecated and Windows Server 2003/8 is what would be used instead. Consumers of course run XP/Vista/Win7. App's not specifically stated to run on Server versions are certainly not guaranteed to run there. However, in the consumer world of tablets, smartphones, etc., Win8 would appear to be designed to offer operability across such platforms. In other words, Win8 appears designed to run standard Windows app's on different architectures. This would reduce confusion, no?

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