AT&T strengthens smartphone portfolio, outlines app store and OS support

LAS VEGAS--AT&T Mobility President and CEO Ralph de la Vega used the company's annual mobile developer event to announce the company's four-pronged approach to strengthening its wireless business. The conference, which was held at the Palms Casino and Resort the day prior to the opening of the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, attracted more than 1,000 mobile developers--nearly three times the number that the event has attracted in the past.

Specifically, de la Vega said that the AT&T would continue to strengthen its smartphone portfolio by supporting all the various mobile operating systems; it will support all the major OEM app stores; it will take apps beyond just the smartphone to mid-level wireless devices; it will strengthen its app developer program; and it will continue to invest in its network.

Besides announcing plans to launch five exclusive smartphones that support Google's Android operating system (see related story here) from Dell, Motorola and HTC, de la Vega said that the company also will launch two devices using Palm's webOS operating system. He added that those devices will be exclusive to AT&T and will be announced later this year.

Regarding app stores, de la Vega said that the company will support all app stores from the major OEMs and will provide technical support for those app stores. In addition, AT&T customers that buy apps from Nokia's Ovi storefront will be billed directly through AT&T.

However, de la Vega said that only about 35 percent of postpaid customers have upgraded their phones to smartphones and therefore have access to the latest apps.  To reach the remaining 65 percent of customers that don't have smartphones, AT&T has decided to team with Qualcomm to have the BREW MP platform incorporated into all mid-level messaging devices. "We want to make apps available to a bigger segment of the market," de la Vega said.  He added that by 2011, AT&T expects that 90 percent of new AT&T messaging devices will have the BREW MP platform.

The AT&T chief addressed concerns over how AT&T's network--which has been criticized for its performance as mobile data traffic growth has exploded--would handle all of this new activity. "How is our network going to support this growth? We're continuing to add thousands of new cell sites and backhaul connections and preparing for the move to LTE," de la Vega said. "We're confident that our industry leading investments and upgrades will help us maintain our position as the nation's fastest 3G network."

For more:
- see this release
- see this Ovi release

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