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.