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Android Person of the Year Nominee: Ralph de la Vega

December 24, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka

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Ralph De La Vega
CEO, AT&T Mobility
Reason nominated: Leads the last American frontier for Android to conquer

Android started with T-Mobile, exploded with Verizon, and led a turnaround at Sprint. Being embraced by 3 of 4 major U.S. carriers, one would think that Android has arrived. But that fourth nut has proven to be tough to crack.

AT&T still hasn’t gone full throttle with Android, instead embracing a series of underwhelming phones and decisions that only seems to make people believe it purposely disrespects the green bot to protect the iPhone. What will it take for Big Blue to offer more quality Android phones and better options for consumers?

It will take intervention from Ralph De La Vega, a man who has shown that he’s no friend to Android. De La Vega displayed only mild interest in Android since its inception, and was often dismissive of the OS until AT&T offered the Backflip earlier this year. Though the carrier has since gone on to release a handful Android phones, most have been outdated, disappointing phones not worth purchasing.

De La Vega was not a friend to Android, but Person of the Year doesn’t have to be a positive influence. It can also be someone who leads the second largest carrier in the United States that is dead last when it comes to choices for a quality Android phone. It can be someone who blocks non-Market apps and charges more for less as his company impacts Android in a negative way.

AT&T is the last major U.S. carrier that seems to be holding out on Android. While AT&T continues to stockpile checks for iPhone sales, snags exclusives for BlackBerry, and boldly attempts to become the premiere carrier for Windows Phone 7 devices, Android sits in the corner with the Captivate left to fend for itself as the only Android phone on AT&T worthy of comparison to these other devices.

As the leader of a wireless network serving more than 90 million people, Ralph De La Vega has been in a position to be much more aggressive on the phones that AT&T offers. He chose to instead watch a parade of top-notch Android phones head towards other carriers and did very little in the promotion of its sole elite device. AT&T encourages customers to “Rethink Possible” in commercials; perhaps its time for the company take some of its own device and do better in 2011.

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This article is part of a series of profiles on the people who most-impacted Android in 2010. Read more about the Android Person of the Year series here.