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AT&T wants to control your communications

This article in Computerworld by Robert L. Mitchell isn’t supposed to incite controversy. Rather, the author is just exploring another angle of the AT&T/iPhone deal: this could be part of a larger picture by AT&T to reclaim the title of world’s No. 1 communications provider. He opines that rather than enhancing users’ mobile Internet experiences, the iPhone may actually be part of a plan to limit them.

Check out this quote from AT&T CEO Randall L. Stephenson, which prompted our interest in this story:

From AT&T’s vantage point, Apple’s iPod cell phone is part of a larger strategy to control the user experience. “Our objective is to own all aspects of [communications] in the home. The iPhone is critical to this,” Randall L. Stephenson, AT&T’s newly installed chief executive, was quoted as saying in a recent Business Week story.

The last thing America needs is for AT&T to be controlling all aspects of communication. That has happened before, and it led to consumers being ripped off by being forced to lease phones rather than owning them — even though they more than paid for the cost of the phone with the leasing fee.

The more we think about this, the more it appalls us. This is AT&T’s goal? To “own” (emphasis ours) every aspect of communication in the home? We’re sorry, but we don’t want AT&T owning anything of ours. Let them own their network, but keep them off our hardware (and our software, but that’s more a personal choice).

Signs of AT&T’s quest for power and control are already in place. You know why the iPhone doesn’t support instant messaging? Why, that would take away from AT&T’s text messaging revenue. Know why it doesn’t support Java or Flash? Because AT&T wants to control how you access the Internet.

Does anyone else think that AT&T is just horrible for the communications industry?

[Computerworld]