Three mobile majors hire key executives
AT&T reshuffles wireless leadership, Sony has new CEO, and Apple taps UK chain for new head of retail
Published: 1 February, 2012
Three major mobile players announced important new executive changes this week. AT&T reshuffled its leadership in the wake of the T-Mobile debacle; Apple CEO Tim Cook made his first senior outside hire, naming UK retail big-name, John Browett, to lead retail activities; and Sony announced a new CEO.
AT&T has split its mobile and wireline consumer activities, which were counter-intuitively lumped together under the presidency of Ralph de la Vega, who now focuses entirely on heading the key mobile business. His responsibilities for the U-Verse triple play are transferred to a new head of business and home solutions, Andy Geisse.
This removes some of the conflicts of interest which must have hampered de la Vega - trying to prop up a declining and regional wireline unit while pushing mobile broadband alternatives at the same time. Now he can focus single-mindedly on wireless, with his top priority being the LTE roll-out and the battle with Verizon on 4G. Here, he will be assisted by newly promoted SVP of technology and network operations, John Donovan.
Meanwhile, the other key challenge for AT&T Mobility, finding a plan B after losing the chance to own TMo's spectrum, falls to John Stankey, who moves from being CEO of business operations, to become group president and chief strategy officer, with a key task of securing the medium term spectrum roadmap.
At Sony - which is taking full control of the Sony Ericsson handset venture and integrating it with its other consumer device lines - Kazuo Hirai has become president and CEO, replacing Howard Stringer, who stays as chairman. Apart from stemming four years of losses, Hirai's focus will be on integrating the Japanese giant's content properties with its mobile and home appliances and its PCs, to create a full multiscreen offering. Hirai, currently head of the games unit, needs to fight back against Apple and Samsung, and in his statement, the new chief saide: "The path we must take is clear - to drive the growth of our core electronics businesses."
Meanwhile, John Browett joins Apple as head of retail operations, leaving his current post at the helm of UK-based electronics group Dixons Retail. Despite the struggles of Dixons, Browett is a highly respected player with a pedigree in many European giants such as grocery behemoth Tesco, where he built the successful online business, and his remit will be to expand Apple's network of stores and outlets, especially in emerging markets. At Dixons, he had worked closely with Apple, making iDevices a central element in a revamp of the brand, and creating stores-within-stores around Apple products. He even secured a 60-day exclusive for iPads in 2010.
Planet Retail analyst Robert Gregory told TotalTelecom: "He is a very dynamic character and not afraid to take risks. One of the things he has brought to Dixons is really improving their customer service. That fits in well with Apple's philosophy, making the stores a destination where people can go and really get great service."