How many people enjoy their service with AT&T? <Peers out into audience holding hand over his eyes> Not many, not many. And AT&T just seems to keep getting more unfriendly all the time. Recently they announced data caps just before the release of iPhone 4 (see New AT&T Data Plans Make No Sense), then there have been rumors of micro cell activity (explained here) counting against your data limit. People complain about bad reception in certain major cities, especially New York (which I've experienced myself). So it begs the question, as aggravation with AT&T grows, why does Apple continue its exclusive relationship?
Hasn't Hurt 'Em Yet
If reports last week are to be believed, Apple has already pre-sold more than 600,000 iPhone 4s. AppleInsider reports that one analyst predicts Apple will have 100 million iphone subscribers by the end of 2011.
Earnings reports from the last couple of years show that iPhone sales are driving big profits for Apple. Of course that's US and worldwide, but a big piece of the pie has to be the US market. So whatever warts AT&T may have and however much users complain, Apple is still making big money and selling beaucoup phones. What's their motivation to leave AT&T behind?
I'm Thinking About It
As much as I love my iPhone 3G (and I do) and as much as I want a new iPhone 4 this summer as my contract comes up for renewal, I'm reluctant to stick with AT&T as a provider at this point. I haven't enjoyed my relationship with them over these years. In fact, the only reason I chose them back in the day (we're probably talking late 90s here) is because the phone worked in my house. Over time, I've added my kids to my plan and with rolling contract renewals, it's increasingly difficult to get out from under them. Things have changed since the days I chose my first cell phone. New towers have been built, but for now I'm stuck with AT&T because it would be too expensive to leave.
I have to admit I'm a gadget guy, so as much as I enjoy the iPhone, I wouldn't mind giving one of the Android phones a shot. I've had a look at the Droid (as I wrote in Droid Could Bring Motorola Back From the Dead) and two new phones from HTC, the Magic and the Droid Incredible, both look like serious contenders. I'm not sure Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon would be any better. Meet the new provider, same as the old provider, but it would be nice to be able to make a real choice.
That I'm even thinking about it should tell you my level of frustration with AT&T. I don't have to have an iPhone, but if I'm with AT&T, I'm getting a smart phone and that's the best one they offer at the moment (in my view). I wish Apple would finally offer the iPhone to other providers, but if people keep buying them from AT&T, why should Apple care who's controlling the pipes?
Photo by bschmove on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.