If it is possible for a company to have utter contempt toward customers, AT&T is that company. Now, full disclosure. I don’t know nearly as much about AT&T as I do the other companies I’ve covered in this series of essays. That said, I believe AT&T’s actions speak clearly enough for themselves. First off, when […]
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My Thoughts on AT&T

If it is possible for a company to have utter contempt toward customers, AT&T is that company. Now, full disclosure. I don’t know nearly as much about AT&T as I do the other companies I’ve covered in this series of essays. That said, I believe AT&T’s actions speak clearly enough for themselves.

First off, when the Apple announced the iPhone was coming to AT&T (Then, still called Cingular Wireless), the company had served millions of wireless customers well enough. Sure, service was spotty at times, but nothing we couldn’t live with. And sure, they were charging more than what the service was worth, but again, it wasn’t something we couldn’t live with.

However, things changed when the iPhone came out (and other increasingly data-dependent smartphones) and customers began to actually fully utilize AT&T’s network. Amazingly enough, with a poor infrastructure that was the direct result of years of revenue on easy street, AT&T’s network has buckled. The company is still struggling to climb out of this hole, and is currently upgrading their system this summer. It is yet to be seen if this will help.

AT&T’s poor performance is burning through Apple’s brand capitol. That is to say, AT&T’s poor network performance, and Apple’s insistence on keeping AT&T as the sole network provider for the device in the U.S., is a dangerous mix. Especially when you couple these factors with the increasingly competitive Android devices on Verizon’s network, and you can see a problem on the horizon.

It does look like Apple has left themselves an opening in case of an emergency. Currently, AT&T’s network is not hindering the iPhone’s success. Look no further than the iPhone 4 launch. However, if AT&T’s network began to hinder iPhone growth, you can bet Apple has plans on the table to bring iPhone to Verizon. They just don’t have any compelling reason to do so right now, aside from an increased market size.

In short, Apple could pull the trigger on a Verizon deal at any time. They just haven’t. If AT&T’s network doesn’t see improvements as they have been promising by the end of the summer, you can bet the iPhone will be on Verizon’s network sooner rather than later.

I’m not saying AT&T has done a horrible job, but they certainly haven’t done the best. For instance, it took them a year longer than every other carrier across the globe that was offering the iPhone, to offer internet tethering. Currently their network is being hammered, and they’re trying to play catchup. They should have saw this coming, and prepared accordingly.*

AT&T is continually making missteps, which make the company, or at least the people at the top, look incompetent.

*Yes, I know. “Should have saw…” is easily said in retrospect. However, after the first iPhone launch, and Apple’s impending release iPhone 3G (Trust me, Apple let them know about the launch ahead of time) AT&T should have seen the writing on the wall. That is to say, Apple (who was gaining considerable market share at this point) was going to fully utilize AT&T’s 3G network capabilities, and they should have prepared accordingly. They didn’t, and you see the mess we have today.

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