How OK is Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) CEO Steve Jobs with open relationships? We'll soon know.
AT&T (NYSE: T ) yesterday unveiled the first Android-powered smartphone for its 3G network: Motorola's (NYSE: MOT ) BACKFLIP. The carrier will begin carrying the handset in its retail stores on March 7, AT&T said in a press release.
Observers will rightly point out that AT&T has long done business with handset suppliers not named Apple. Jobs hasn't complained about the carrier's associations with Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) and Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) . Why should it matter that his exclusive iPhone bride, Ms. Bell, is pairing up with Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) telecom robot?
Because Google is the enemy, that's why.
Jobs badmouthed The Big G at a recent employee meeting, taking aim at both its yet-to-impress Nexus One smartphone and professed company motto, "Don't Be Evil." Ever since, Jobs has publicly treated Google as he once did Microsoft.
Frankly, this shouldn't matter much. Maybe it won't; Apple's fiscal-first-quarter iPhone sales were brisk, thanks in part to deals with China Unicom (NYSE: CHU ) in China and KT Corp. in South Korea.
Investors still need to watch this relationship with eyes wide open. Taken together with other recent events, including AT&T's joining the Wholesale Applications Community -- a group that hopes to nurture more smartphone apps, and whose roster doesn't include Apple -- it's clear to me that Mr. Jobs and Ms. Bell aren't as close as they used to be.
And they're going to keep cheating on each other.
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