Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2012

Innovating at AT&T: Partnering to Lead the Broadband Revolution

by Lynda M. Applegate, Phillip Andrews and Kerry Herman

Abstract

In 2010, the U.S. retail market value for next-generation non-handset wirelessly-enabled devices was just over $1 billion. By 2011 it had grown 1,141% to $13.2 billion and was forecast to reach $24.7 billion in 2015. At the same time, user demand for data was surging with the popularity of mobile Internet, e-mail, and messaging, which left carriers scrambling to increase network capacity. To capture more revenue in the data market, AT&T formed the Emerging Devices Organization (EDO) in 2008 as a distinct internal initiative to identify and partner with manufacturers developing the next generation of mobile broadband devices—from eReaders to tablets, to implanted medical devices, to supply-chain tracking devices, to dog collars and many more. AT&T executives believed that these partnerships would position the company for its next "winning play," following the path it blazed in 2007 with Apple for the iPhone. The EDO was run by Glenn Lurie, who had led the team that partnered with Apple. He knew from experience that to capture the market with the next game-changing device, his team would need to develop a new partnership model, both inside AT&T and with the ecosystem of partners who were poised to lead the global mobile broadband revolution. Doing so within a company the size of AT&T would be tough, but Lurie believed his group was up to the task.

Keywords: innovation & entrepreneurship; team leadership; emerging technologies; business models; business to business; corporate vision; growth strategy; corporate culture; Innovation and Invention; Corporate Entrepreneurship; Partners and Partnerships; Leadership; Mobile Technology; Growth and Development Strategy; Globalized Firms and Management; Business Model; Technology Industry; United States;

Citation:

Applegate, Lynda M., Phillip Andrews, and Kerry Herman. "Innovating at AT&T: Partnering to Lead the Broadband Revolution." Harvard Business School Case 812-124, June 2012.