Starting with this post on AT&T, I will analyze the US carriers and how the launch of iPhone has affected them. Earlier posts on AT&T available here and here can make for interesting reading. AT&T is the exclusive US carrier partner for the iPhone. To get the iPhone, subscribers need to sign up for a 2-year contract with price plans ranging from $60 to $100 dollars per month.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is one of the world’s largest telecommunications holding companies with operating revenue of 63.05 billion in 2006. AT&T companies are leading providers of IP-based communications services, high-speed DSL Internet, local and long distance voice, and directory publishing and advertising services. Its business is organized into four segments: (1) wireline; (2) wireless; (3) advertising & publishing; and (4) others. In December, 2006, AT&T acquired BellSouth. With the BellSouth acquisition, the Company acquired BellSouth’s 40% interest in AT&T Mobility, formerly Cingular Wireless LLC, resulting in 100% ownership of AT&T Mobility. >>>
I write this series with great pleasure, as my former graduate school advisor and renowned MIT professor Anant Agarwal unveils his so far stealth-mode company Tilera this week. Tilera could well be the next big breakthrough in processor design.
SM: Anant, please give us some background on where you come from. AA: Growing up, I wanted to be an engineer. I went to school in Mangalore and took the IIT entrance test. I did not have a lot of hope of getting in, and was surprised when it happened. At that time I was working on speech systems. I had been part of a team which built a speech recognition system for Hindi. Then I came to Stanford to work on speech and linear systems theory. Somewhere along the way I switched into computer architecture and began working with John Hennessey, and worked with him on the first MIPS computer. That was 1983. >>>
Eric Benhamou is a networking industry pioneer. Eric served as the CEO of 3Com from September 1990 until December 31, 2000, and since then, has been its Chairman. 3Com acquired Palm during his tenure as CEO, and later spun it out. For a while, Eric also served as the CEO of Palm, and later its Chairman. In this series, we are going to focus on Eric’s experience as “a young punk” turning around 3Com. Later, in a separate series, we will explore the history of Palm, as told by one of the most well-respected Silicon Valley executives. Steve Jobs had invited him to the Board of Apple, and President Clinton appointed him to chair the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee which advises the President on federal R&D programs to maintain United States’ leadership in advanced technologies.
SM: Eric, where were you born, and what kind of environment did you grow up in? What propelled you to where you are today. EB: I was born in a small village between Algeria and Morocco in the mid 1950’s at a time when the whole region was going through wars. The Algerian war was breaking up at the time, and there was increasing amount of tension between the Algerian population and the French. This forced all of the Jewish population in the region to leave between the 1950’s and the early 1960’s. We were part of the massive exodus. There were three destinations: Israel, France and the US / Canada. Our family went to France which is where I went to primary school and high school. As I grew up in France, I felt moderately comfortable, but not terribly comfortable. Clearly I did grow up in the French culture; French was my mother tongue. As I became a teenager I was no longer sure that I wanted to live there. >>>
SM: When it comes to selling, what kinds of customers do you look to sell to? PC: In our business it was all industrial customers, we didn’t have any consumer products.
SM: When you are looking at a customer’s problem and finding solutions, you are essentially selling concepts. You don’t always have the product ready yet. PC: That is very correct; we often sold concepts.
SM: Especially with industrial markets, those companies are not early adapters at all. PC: Our manufacturing managers used to tell us we would sell a product before they knew how to make it. However, they always figured out how to make it.
SM: How do you handle customer interaction in that scenario? >>>
By Frank Lara, Guest Author
We all saw this coming, the warning signs where there, and yet, subprime lenders kept doing what they do best – lending money to people who can’t afford to pay it back in the first place.
How could these institutions think that the good times would never end? What planet do they live on, and now that the worst has happened, they are all saying it’s no big deal? Give me a break. So now, the stock market has to deal with it’s arch enemy, uncertainty. How will this impact the market on Monday, will it get worse in the weeks ahead, will my portfolio turn into pennies? >>>
SM: We talked about the organization, pricing strategy and how to scope out the technology and market. Anything else? PC: The other principle I think is critical is to hire outstanding people. That is the absolute key; those are the people who are going to make it. You have to spend time recruiting the best people that exist. This is all important. >>>
SM: The core research remains with the central development team? PC: The basic technology is being developed by a research group which is trying to solve problems for the divisions. The divisions in turn focus on solving the customer’s problem. The sales problem is typical sales except you have to learn what the customer’s problems are and know more about it than the customer does.
SM: What is the ideal profile of someone whom you put in charge of the R&D organization? PC: The leader of the central organization should be someone who is trained as a scientist and is an outstanding scientist himself or herself, yet is also very savvy about the market places. They cannot be a scientist whose sole concern is the science. They must be someone who is aware of the marketplaces. >>>
With a solid strategy executed to date, and a pending acquisition of Gelco, it is time to explore the next step in this evolution. One obvious goal would be expansion of the customer base. Here I get more interested in strategic alliances and their potential benefits in accelerating this process.
SM: What is your next step now that you have acquired Gelco? SS: We have a lot on the plate right now. We have to integrate Gelco. However, if we look at the broad perspective, our job is to take the travel and expense supply chain and fundamentally re-engineer it to make it more efficient. That is what we are focused on. >>>