Last updated: January 9, 2013 - 12:17am
Trust was a big part of the story behind AT&T’s deal with Apple.
The country’s biggest phone company was a sclerotic mess of assets. Its shrinking landline business produced the majority of revenue. Its play on the future was a glitchy, hodgepodge cellular network cobbled from deals past. It couldn’t pass up, as Verizon reportedly did, the chance to usher in the smartphone era with the man who had reinvented the computer and the music industry. “I told people you weren’t betting on a device. You were betting on Steve Jobs,” says AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, talking candidly about the effect of the iPhone deal from his 37th-floor aerie atop Whitacre Tower in Dallas. That one little phone transformed the whole company. AT&T still lags Verizon on many fronts, but since the iPhone deal Ma Bell moves faster, embraces new technologies and partnerships big and small, and has decided to spend big–really, really big–to stay atop the data deluge. Since 2007 traffic on its network has doubled each year, and AT&T has spent more than $115 billion acquiring spectrum and building its network. It claims to have made a greater capital injection into the U.S. economy than any other public company in that time span.
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