June 19, 2007 / 2:17 PM / 12 years ago

AT&T says 40 pct of iPhone inquirers not its clients

In this file picture, Apple Computer Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs holds the new iPhone in San Francisco, California, January 9, 2007. About 40 percent of people who have shown an early interest in Apple's iPhone are not AT&T's wireless customers, the phone company's Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said on Tuesday, suggesting the device may help it gain market share. REUTERS/Kimberly White

CHICAGO (Reuters) - About 40 percent of people who have shown an early interest in Apple’s iPhone are not AT&T’s wireless customers, the phone company’s Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said on Tuesday, suggesting the device may help it gain market share.

AT&T has an exclusive agreement to sell the eagerly anticipated device that combines a cell phone with the popular iPod digital music player. The iPhone is set to hit stores on June 29.

More than 1 million people have signed up for information on the iPhone. Any subscriber to a rival U.S. wireless network has to switch to AT&T to use it.

“Of the one million plus (people), research is showing that 40 percent are not AT&T wireless customers today. That speaks volumes to us,” Stephenson said in a speech at the NXTcomm communications conference in Chicago.

“I really believe this is going to be a game changer. Not only for us but the industry at large,” he said.

Priced at $500 (250 pounds) to $600, the iPhone may be out of reach for the average consumer for now. But analysts say the device may help AT&T lure wealthier customers to its service and attract more consumers to its stores.

AT&T shares traded 10 cents higher to $40.11 in morning trading while Apple shares fell 1.5 percent to $123.18.

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