In burger land they call it "share of stomach" and in the mobile world it should be called "share of voice." Just a short while ago Information Week rehashed some news from last week about AT&T once again rejecting Google Android phones, this time from Motorola.
Here are a few reasons why I think they are doing so:
1) AT&T's network is Overdosing on Data. Until the network is at full capacity, and until iPhone sales simmer down from the boiling hot streak they have been on since launch, the last thing AT&T wants is more data centric users clogging an already stressed network.
2) Never Feed Thy Enemy-if AT&T's Dallas folks haven't figured it out, I'm sure those who really run wireless/mobile in Atlanta have. Google is not their friend. Google is a frenemy. That's someone who talks cooperation, then turns things into coopititition and eventually into competition. Why? Follow the ABC's of business.
A) At the Internet infrastructure layer Google owns lots of fiber capacity. This means traffic that used to go over AT&T's IP network goes elsewhere and that means AT&T phones traffic hits their network for a short time and migrates away. While it sounds good from a traffic perspective, in that the packets go elsewhere, it means AT&T is marginalized down to nothing more than an access provider and they're not making money all along the way.
B) Google is an investor in Clearwire now via the XOOM roll up. Their partners there include Motorola, Comcast and more. Their mission is to create a competitive 4G network. Why feed that development if you're AT&T.
C) Nothing is Unique to the AT&T Models--if you look at the Android devices, in many ways the only uniqueness is the casing. Much like Windows Mobile, you can get an Android in any case you want, as long as the inside is Android. I saw the Android 2, called the Touch, at a T-Mobile store in London over the weekend. Nice touchscreen, no Keyboard to slide out and you know what. It looked just like every other Android design I've seen from HTC or MOT or Samsung, or......
D) AT&T and Nokia are getting cozier. While Nokia may be my client, I'm about as far removed from sales as anyone these days so this is not based on inside knowledge. However the new, soon on the market, Nokia N900 looks perfect for an AT&T as it gives them a combined consumer and enterprise device that does a lot of "smart" things and is new and different. My guess though is both AT&T and T-Mobile grab them up as the WiFi and 3G capability fits with the AT&T hotspot strategy around the purchase of Wayport very well.
3) There are many new handsets coming to market from new players. INQ who is already making phones for Three in the UK is high on my list to make inroads into the GSM players in the USA, and AT&T has to be high on their sales gun's list. The same for ASUS/Garmin's NuviPhone whose new devices may be just good now, but if you look at how ASUS has gained market in the laptop arena, especially netbooks, you can see over time how they chip away at market share using price and style as their lead in. I would expect an AT&T to be looking at more devices that are different, than are "me too" which is what Android to date has been peddling.