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January 5, 2007

Brand Naming: AT&T Kills Cingular, Net Neutrality

attcingular1.gifOn May 4, 2006 I noted that AT&T would be doing away with the Cingular brand name. A few days later, I noted the great hue and cry both for and against the change.

Now, seven months later, the reality has set in and the dismantling of Cingular has begun in earnest. Olga Kharif wrote an insightful article in BusinessWeek yesterday that the loss of the Cingular name signals the convergence of wireless and wireline communications.

In that vein, there’s an article on Computers.net by Bob Caswell explaining how AT&T's move will probably mean that the company is going to be forced to turn away from "net neutrality" and will be forcing its broadband customers to use its "AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet U-verse Enabled" service with cranky "middleware" from Alcatel and Microsoft, making the name "net neutrality" a "buzzword of the past."

attcingular2.jpgl noted last year that the change will cost the company $2 billion in rebranding expenses, but this week Doug Berger quotes AT&T on the Gadgetell blog as saying that this pales in comparison to the $4 billion they are spending to "raise the bar" (Cingular's famous slogan.)

AT&T is very serious about revamping and modernizing what Kharif feels is a "stodgy" name and cannibalizing Cingular is clearly the first order of business. The Thingnamer blog summed the news up nicely yesterday: "AT&T-Bellsouth merger complete. Cingular’s rebranding inevitable."

AT&T plans to use its well-known name on all of its products - local, long distance, wireless, data and video. I think, however, that AT&T is serious about modernizing its brand striving for a consistent and congruent brand architecture.

You can read more about the name change at CrunchGear, including the somewhat confusing geneology of the names involved. Matt Hickey discusses how AT&T completing the Cingular merger is confusing mobile history buffs. Check out the comments, too, regarding readers opinions on the value of the Cingular brand name versus the AT&T brand name.

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Posted by William Lozito at January 5, 2007 10:09 AM
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