First off, with Apple rumors, you never know if they are actually going to really happen. But AT&T may have to share the iPhone.

The WSJ reported on Wednesday of the impending release of the iPhone to Verizon.  Apple and Verizon’s stock went up and AT&T’s went down. AT&T iphone-verizon-wsj

It is sad really to think about how far out of touch cell phone companies are from their target audience.   People choose AT&T because of the iPhone.  Consumers wanted the iPhone in spite of the fact that it was on AT&T.  Consumers switched companies, canceled contracts and iPhone users put up with dropped calls, poor customer service, and poor local coverage for the privilege of having an iPhone.  Guess what, it looks as though Apple is extending that privilege to Verizon.

Cell phone companies have traditionally held on to their biggest phones and used them to attract customers.. The problem is, that thinking works some customer do switch (a lot did for the iPhone.  But with the iPhone, the product became more than a product it became bigger and more important to the consumer than the cell companies and now everyone wants one.

If the WSJ report is true, and there is good reason to believe it is, this is a game changer.   If this works for Apple (barring any network problems), more companies will follow suit.  Consumers will pay a higher initial cost for a device and think of the service as secondary.

So what does this mean for the service providers, particularly AT&T?  Unless they want to become nothing more than a means to end for the consumer (like a power company, for example) they need to start taking a real hard look at their brands.  They need to quickly figure out how to position themselves to resonate with their target audience that goes beyond a product they are selling.  They must give a reason WHY they are the right choice and this does not mean using the table stake claims of “fastest network, biggest network, or most subscribers.”

Can you hear me now, AT&T?

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