AT&T plays Grinch to Apple's Christmas

By Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca

Steve Jobs must be righteously ticked off today. That's because Randall Stephenson has gone and spilled the beans on the faster, better 3G iPhone. The AT&T chief executive officer confirmed that Apple will remedy the chief complaint on the iPhone - that its connection speed is too slow - by releasing a faster 3G device next year. This will probably come as no surprise to anybody, but one must wonder why in the world Stephenson would say this just weeks before Christmas.

As some financial analysts and bloggers, including Larry Dignan over at Seeking Alpha, have surmised, Stephenson's comments will no doubt freeze a large portion of Christmas iPhone sales in their tracks. After all, why would you buy a gadget when you know a better one is just around the corner?

It's not like Apple hasn't burned iPhone buyers before - witness the fury of early buyers when Jobs cut the price by a third (or $200 U.S.) just two months after releasing it. AT&T's CEO has now given them another reason to hold off buying.

Of course, Jobs was right when he said, "That's technology" in defending the abrupt price cut months ago - if you're constantly waiting for better or cheaper stuff, you'll never end up buying anything. But that's likely why Apple is so tight-lipped about future releases, and also probably why Jobs can't be too thrilled with AT&T now. He also can't be too happy about another company pre-announcing his products.

Is it too early to start the pool on when the exclusive five-year iPhone deal between Apple and AT&T is dissolved?