Steve Jobs vs. Ma Bell

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) is usually good for a rumor. Here's the latest: CEO Steve Jobs also thinks that AT&T (NYSE: T  ) is killing the iPhone.

Gizmodo reports that an iPhone user contacted Jobs directly to request that Apple's App Store reinstate the NetShare tethering application that was, and then wasn't, available. The thread as reported:

From our reader to Steve:

AT&T offers data plans for BlackBerry that include tethering for an additional $30 per month (a total of $60 per month for the BlackBerry tethering plan).

It seems ludicrous that the same thing is not offered with the iPhone. I understand the desire to prevent tethering with the current data plan, but I am willing to pay more money to allow tethering! With such an advanced device, why can I not do so?

From "Steve" to our reader:

We agree, and are discussing it with ATT.

Steve

Sent from my iPhone

More trouble with tethering
Naturally, we have no way of knowing whether "Steve" really is Steve Jobs. But it seems plausible, because tethering is an issue for AT&T; it allows a cell phone's connections to the Web to be shared with other devices. Think of it as siphoning. Ma Bell wants to be sure you pay for every device connected to her network. 

AT&T already allows those with Motorola (NYSE: MOT  ) , Nokia, and Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) handsets to tether for a fee. Why not the iPhone?

Let's hope Gizmodo has it right, and that Jobs really is talking with Ma Bell. Both Nokia and Palm are aiming at the iPhone with sleek new models, and Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) want a larger slice of tasty smartphone pie.

Getting it won't be easy. Analysts at Morgan Keegan report that the iPhone is outselling all comers at AT&T's stores, including the very popular BlackBerry Curve. Network deals with Rogers Communications in Canada and Mobile Telesystems (NYSE: MBT  ) in Russia have expanded the iPhone's footprint. And a software update appears to have mostly solved connectivity problems with the 3G handset.

But this isn't the time for Apple to get complacent. In the stock market, where every race is a marathon, no lead is safe. Don't let Ma Bell hang up on this issue, Steve.

Brrrrrring! It's related Foolishness calling:

Fool contributor Tim Beyers owned shares of Nokia at the time of publication. He also hunts for the best of tech as a contributor to Motley Fool Rule Breakers. Here's how to try this market-beating service free for 30 days. Get access to all of Tim's Foolish writings here.

Apple is a Stock Advisor selection. Sprint Nextel is an Inside Value pick. Reports of the death of The Motley Fool's disclosure policy have been greatly exaggerated.


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