AT&T CMO: RIM needs to innovate quickly

Executives at AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) believe that consumers want choice when it comes to their smartphone selection and that's why the company is hoping that struggling BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) is able to turn around its fortunes and succeed in the wireless industry. "We want RIM to succeed. We like choice," said David Christopher, chief marketing officer of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. "They have a strong base. But they have to innovate quickly and execute."

David Christopher, chief marketing officer of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets


Last month Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, long-time leaders of RIM, stepped down as co-CEOs and co-chairmen of the company and RIM COO Thorsten Heins was named CEO.

In a wide-ranging interview with FierceWireless, Christopher also said that the company is excited about Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) Lumia 900, the LTE-capable Windows Phone that AT&T plans to debut in the next few months. "We think the design is great and different," Christopher said. "The Microsoft OS is really good."

He also said that he believes Nokia is still a pre-eminent mobile phone brand and has a lot of "inherent good will in their brand in the U.S." 

Christopher also talked about AT&T's decision to revamp its tiered data pricing plans. The company last month rolled out new pricing, and said that existing customers could keep their current plans or switch to the new plans. The new smartphone pricing provides $20 for 300 MB (up from $15 for 200 MB); $30 for 3 GB (up from $25 for 2 GB); and $50 for 5 GB, with mobile hotspot/tethering support (up from $45 for 4 GB for a data plan plus tethering).  

Christopher said that the plans were in response to customers using more data, noting that the $20 per month and $30 per month plans offer 50 percent more data for just $5 more. "We think this is a good deal for the service we provide."

Christopher added that AT&T plans to continue to differentiate its wireless service from competitors by emphasizing the overall experience of its network as well as the customer experience. "Our job as marketers with LTE is not just to convey the functional benefits but also the emotional ones," Christopher said. "When everyone has a fast network, it's got to be about more than speed. It has to be about the overall experience."

Look for more on FierceWireless' interview with Christopher next week.

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