Are AT&T and Yahoo breaking up? Or are they going into a digital version of the seven year itch?
The news media is a abuzz with stories about how the two companies are trying to figure out how to keep working with one another.
AT&T, which once wanted to be their own portal has for the past six or so years counted on Yahoo's content and services (email being the most important) to drive adoption of their DSL services, as has Verizon. But that's no longer as important and AT&T moves into the U-Verse world of IPTV and FTTH. With more content available the need to split revenue with Yahoo is less needed.
Also, since AT&T has VOIP and Yahoo has VoIP despite all attempts by Yahoo's Skippy and the Rock Star (Brad Garlinghouse and Jeff Bonforte) to keep relationships around voice on an even keel with the Mother of all Bells, there has always been a growing sentiment within AT&T that ceding control to Yahoo of consumer's IDENTITY was ultimately dangerous. Garlinghouse has been a master at keeping this same Yahoo strategy on track but now it appears that AT&T is waking up and deciding to possibly control more of the mix.
Where this all shakes out is anyone's guess. With AOL being carved up like scrap metal these days it would not be out of the realm of possibility that Time Warner and AT&T find a way to put some of AOL over with AT&T.