AT&T Not Concerned About iPhone Defections — CEO Boasts That 80% Are Basically Trapped

At this point, my head is spinning. Earlier tonight, I wrote about how Verizon is still full-steam ahead on destroying the fabric of Android. Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, we have AT&T playing up the fact that they got a “D-” on a coverage test instead of an “F”. I seriously just can’t decide which carrier is worse.

Earlier today, a study by Credit Suisse was released stating that 23 percent of iPhone users currently on AT&T would switch to Verizon if that carrier offered the phone. That number is slightly off from the 34 percent that was previously reported, but is still pretty massive. In total, that represents about 1.4 million customers that would jump ship from AT&T to Verizon without hesitation. But speaking today at the Goldman Sachs media and technology conference, Communacopia (yes, awful name), AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson had something interesting to say about possible defections.

Stephenson noted that 80 percent of AT&T’s iPhone base is either in family plans or business relationships with the carrier and that these type of customers tend to be “very sticky.” So essentially what he’s saying is that those 80 percent of iPhone users probably won’t leave even if they want to. Wow, that’s a fresh approach.

The correct answer there would have been to say that AT&T will be doing all it can to improve its network and its customer service to ensure these people stay. And that they’re confident that they will. Or really, anything would have been better than an answer that basically amounts to “we have them trapped.”

Of course, this seems to be the company line these days. The same 80 percent figure was touted in a recent SEC filing.

But this may be my favorite part of Stephenson’s talk, from CNBC’s report:

Stephenson emphasized the “extended array” of smartphones Apple subscribers can pick from, which reads as AT&T saying it’s not too reliant on Apple.

Does he really believe that iPhone users are going to switch to some other phone that AT&T offers instead of switching to the iPhone on another network? I mean, seriously?

This is basically like saying, “well, we offer you crappy service on one of the most popular devices out there, so why don’t you try this less popular device and stick with us?”

That’s what we call a lose-lose situation. Brilliant.