Editor's Corner

  

Yesterday, Verizon Wireless countered AT&T's bundled Unity offering with its Freedom package, different bundles but mostly built around wireline offerings. Today AT&T has answered that rejoinder with a press release that seems to be poking at Verizon's precious tagline ("Can you hear me now?") while pouring salt in the wounds of Sprint's flagging iDEN network. AT&T's press release: "AT&T Says 'Hear Me Now!' Introduces Pay-Per-Use Push To Talk Service." That's a one-two punch of marketing.

Roger Entner of Ovum points out that none of these announcements is revolutionary, or new, even: "It's just a bunch of flag-waving--highlighting your strengths while playing up your competitors' weaknesses...sure they're trying to stick it to [Sprint] Nextel's iDEN network, but everybody is trying to stick it to Nextel's iDEN network and it's working." Sprint has been struggling with its iDEN network lately as push-to-talk availability and other network issues plague the carrier.

"You couldn't be in the construction business without having Nextel's push-to-talk service," Entner adds. "They dominated push-to-talk, so it was their game to lose." AT&T, however, has its strength in marketing to families, so this service will be regulated by what Entner calls the "cohort effect." How many push-to-talk users do you know? Not too many, I suspect.

Push-to-talk vendors once bickered over how quickly their PTT solution could connect a call vs. the time it takes to make an old-fashioned mobile phone call. PTT, of course, was a matter of seconds vs. dialing, which takes a few minutes. As the attention span of each generation continues to decline, PTT will continue to gain momentum in the consumer segment, an important trend for AT&T. -Brian

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