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Industry Perspective: Glenn Lurie, president of AT&T emerging devices

Glenn Lurie

Glenn Lurie

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As AT&T seeks to expand its wireless penetration, the tier-one operator is looking outside of mobile phones. Last week it appointed Glenn Lurie -- the former AT&T Mobility president who negotiated the exclusive US iPhone deal with Apple -- was appointed to lead AT&T’s initiative to bring wireless connectivity to consumer electronic devices outside the mobile phone. As the president of emerging devices, national distribution and resale, he is pioneering a new category of devices and applications based on wireless connections over AT&T’s 3G network. Lurie spoke with Associate News Editor Sarah Reedy about the initiative.

On the idea behind the initiative: As you look at our overall industry, we are going to approach 90% penetration this year. When you look at the ends of the spectrum, whether the youth market or 65-and-over, youth is about 50% penetrated, 65-and-over is about 60% penetrated, and that middle sweet spot is already over 100%. So when you start to look at where the growth is going to come in the wireless business and what are the new opportunities – especially looking for new accretive growth – you start looking at all the opportunities. This, in our opinion, is one of the best. We are getting a lot of feedback, and there’s a lot of buzz in the industry around connected devices. I don’t just mean connected to the Web. That is obviously an important part of it but also devices that are connected to each other and how that can change customers’ lives. Whether you are a soccer mom, own your own small business or are a large-business individual, there are going to be applications and devices you are going to want talking to each other.

On what constitutes an emerging device: We are defining an emerging device as anything that is not your traditional handset. Today you have your traditional flip phones or smartphones. We are looking at emerging devices being from the computing industry, and there are a few segments within the computing industry. You’ve got PCs, Ultra Mobile PCs, Mobile Internet Devices – those are all versions of PCs that we believe will all be embedded and wirelessly enabled right out of the box, and the customer is going to expect that. We would then move to in-car telematics – front seat, back seat. We’d then move to digital cameras, gaming devices, portable navigation devices, all the way down to picture frames, all the way to dog collars. You also have a lot in the industry talking about machine-to-machine telemetry type of devices used in small and large businesses. A lot of buzz around medical devices. These are all examples of devices that are not, or very few are, connected today that we believe in the future a very high percentage will be connected and wirelessly enabled.

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