Missing At WWDC: Steve Jobs, AT&T

steve jobs imac

Apple (AAPL) unveiled new MacBooks, a new Mac OS, a new iPhone OS, and a new iPhone at its Worldwide Developers Conference today. But two things were missing:

Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, who has been on medical leave since January, and will reportedly return soon. Apple never promised a visit from Steve, who has recently held meetings at his house. But it would have been a nice surprise.

AT&T, Apple’s exclusive iPhone carrier, was also barely in the keynote. While Apple cut prices on the iPhone 3G, AT&T said it would cost about the same amount to keep subsidizing it. So it seems Apple is the one taking the $100 haircut.

Meanwhile, AT&T (T) will not immediately support new MMS messaging. And it was not listed among the carriers supporting iPhone tethering, so you could use the iPhone as a 3G modem for laptops. And AT&T did not announce cheaper service plans for the iPhone, which some had speculated. That would have helped sell more iPhones.

Is Apple’s exclusive relationship with AT&T coming to an end? By not supporting some of the iPhone’s new features, and not going out of its way to sell more phones, it seems possible that Apple did not renew its exclusive with AT&T — which ends next year — and could start selling phones with other carriers sometime after that.

Update from AT&T rep:

We plan to offer tethering but don’t have an announcement on that at this time.

We absolutely will offer MMS on iPhone 3G S in late summer once we complete some system upgrades that will ensure our customers have the best experience with MMS. These upgrades are unrelated to our 3G network.

We have an ongoing strategic relationship with Apple.  Beyond that, no comment.

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