POWER PLAY: Thanks to the imminent acquisition of AT&T Wireless, Cingular will jump in rank over Verizon Wireless to become the nation's No. 1 cellular provider. Under the leadership of Mr. Lefar, 40, Cingular already has taken up the mantle of the category leader, for example, by opening up contests to not just its own base but to all wireless providers' subscribers. Cingular sent a fleet of vans across the U.S. explaining advanced cell-phone features hoping to grow the category.
DOWNSIDE: Cingular's surge to No. 1 isn't without peril, starting with the back-shop, nuts-and-bolts practicalities behind the integration of AT&T Wireless customers into its base. Beyond that, marketing already has proved a challenge as AT&T Corp., holder of the license for the AT&T Wireless name, announced its plans to re-enter the market. Sprint Corp. and Verizon Wireless have gained ground through a focus on hot new gizmos such as cameras, games and music. Most telling, Cingular's net subscriber gains are half those of some market leaders.