After initially being standoffish, the head of AT&T Inc.'s wireless arm has taken a liking to Google Inc.'s project to create a new operating system for cell phones.
AT&T has been something of a holdout from Google's Open Handset Alliance. T-Mobile USA and Sprint Nextel Corp. are members, and Verizon Wireless has said it will throw its network open to any device, which would include phones with the software, called Android.
In December, de la Vega compared Android unfavorably to Apple Inc.'s iPhone, for which AT&T is the exclusive carrier, and said "the jury is still out" on the project.
His change of heart comes from meeting Google executives, who showed him that AT&T will be able to put its own applications on Android phones it sells. Previously, he said, he had been concerned that the platform would be oriented too much toward Google applications.
"I think it's going to be a good option for us and a good option for our customers," de la Vega said.
One of Google's aims with the software is to make its Web services, like search, e-mail and maps, easily accessible on a cell phone. By extension, it wants to extend its dominance in Internet advertising to the wireless sphere. Phones using the software are expected to show up later this year.