As growth in the wireless phone business slows, AT&T (T) is rebooting its vast chain of retail stores to put more emphasis on other offerings, from wearables and tablets to video, connected car and home security services.
The second-largest U.S. wireless company plans to open a series of larger flagship stores with dedicated areas for each segment along with a modernizing revamp of many of its current 2,000 outlets, Yahoo Finance has learned.
Apple has created a huge ecosystem that incorporates so much more than just selling computers, cellphones and software. It has created, and is tremendously focussed, on sustaining a community.
A community that continues to support Apple, as long as that focus is laser-like. To Apple, those people are not consumers but are customers deserving of the best.
AT&T also has millions of people that use it. And it is rapidly becoming much more than simply a wireless company ≠ home automation and security. It could actually model itself after Apple, with a warm connection to the people who drop by its online and real-life stores.
But it must make a key change away from what the multi-national, mass production companies of the 20th century have moved towards.
The users need to be treated as customers rather than consumers. They take an active part in the social interaction that is a purchase, rather than passively but things.
That will be a tall order to fill.