Telecom giant AT&T (T) unveiled for the year ahead a new lineup of high-end mobile phones, including five powered by Google's (GOOG) Android operating system. While some are already questioning whether AT&T's already strained mobile network will be able to handle a further data deluge, the move could be a smart hedge for an operator that is savvy about its bottom line. If Google's big push into mobile through its patchwork of Android partnerships takes off, AT&T won't be left out in the cold.%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%% AT&T seems to be taking a shotgun approach to betting on which phones customers will flock to. At the Customer Electronics Show (CES) on Wednesday, the company said it would launch seven new smartphones from vendors ranging from Palm (PALM) to Dell (DELL), which is also making a foray into the mobile market.
The move comes amid growing speculation that AT&T will lose its exclusive deal to sell the blockbuster Apple (AAPL) iPhone at some point during the year.
Some commentators are already wondering how AT&T's taxed data network -- known for dropping calls and patchy Web connections in urban areas like New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, among others -- will be able to take on greater increase in traffic.
But AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega (pictured) told conference attendees that the company plans to invest heavily in its mobile network in the coming years. He pointed to the planned build-out of a 4G wireless network that kicks off this year as a way to take some of the strain off its current network.
While a constant target for irritated customers, AT&T has managed to impress investors nonetheless. It spends less on its equipment than rival Verizon Wireless and -- partially as a result -- has seen its shares perform better as well.
Hedging Its Bets, AT&T Adds Android Smartphones to Its New Lineup