SAN FRANCISCO — If Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore thought he was roughed up by Walt Mossberg, he should have stuck around to hear Mossberg interview AT&T’s Glenn Lurie at the Dive Into Mobile conference.
Mossberg opened the conversation by noting a new Consumer Reports story that panned AT&T service as the least reliable in the country.
“You’ve kind of become associated with the idea of dropped calls or failed to initiate calls,” Mossberg said.
“I agree with the perception to a point,” Lurie replied.
Lurie, president of AT&T’s emerging devices business, said the company welcomes the feedback and it’s spending heavily to keep upgrading its network as data usage explodes.
“The main point I’ll say is we’re always looking for feedback,” said Lurie, a Seattle Pacific University graduate.
AT&T spent $18.5 billion in the past year and $18 billion the year before to keep up with data usage that’s grown 5,000 percent over the past three years.
“Aren’t you like the dog chasing the car and you’re never going to catch it?” Mossberg said.
Lurie, a former professional soccer player, did a little sidestep when asked about Verizon getting the iPhone that’s been exclusive to AT&T since its launch in 2007.
Pressed on the question, Lurie said AT&T’s not worried.
“We have come out very publicly and said we’re not concerned about it at all … If and when that ever happens, we are in a position to compete with anybody who has any device any time,” he said.
Lurie said AT&T is also pleased with the sales of Android and Windows Phone 7 devices.
“The key is when you have 93 million customers that you have everything,” he said.
AT&T may be losing its iPhone exclusivity, but it’s still tight with Apple. Lurie said he talks all the time with Apple’s chief operating officer.
“I talk to Tim Cook pretty much every day,” he said.
All networks are going to be under similar pressure from soaring data consumption through new devices and applications, Lurie said, making a bid for the 2010 Positive Spin Award.
“All the carriers are going to deal with this,” he said. “We had the good fortune of dealing with it first.”