Last week our friends at CNet ran a piece that posed the questions, “Is the iPhone hurting AT&T’s Brand?” On the surface this might seem like a silly question to ask. The iPhone has been a huge success for AT&T, mainly because AT&T is the exclusive carrier. If you wanted to get an iPhone you had to go with AT&T. According to some figures, about 40 percent of iPhone users are on AT&T, not because they wanted to go with AT&T but simply because they wanted the handset. And according to a recent survey from consulting firm CFI, about half of all iPhone owners would go to another carrier if the option were available. Ouch!
According to the CNet story, the problem for those users is dropped calls, inability to connect to the 3G network and overall poor network coverage. But the question is whether this is really an AT&T problem or an iPhone problem? At this point, AT&T is the only carrier in the United States, so it makes it hard to determine for sure if this problem is in fact the phone or the carrier? Right now we’re in a wait and see and next year this question might be resolved when the iPhone likely arrives on Verizon. For now however, the iPhone could be something that is bringing customers to AT&T, but as reports suggest it could also be hurting the brand.
Brand Issues Take II: BlackBerry Tour and Verizon
When Verizon rolled out the BlackBerry Tour this summer it seemed like a huge homerun. It provided the carrier with a world smartphone that could do many things well. Too bad my own personal experience with the phone recently is one that has been repeated a few times too often in recent weeks.
My love affair with the Tour began this past summer as my wife and I prepared for a trip throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. We each are freelance writers and are working on several projects and needed a handset that would work in many countries, and provide access to e-mail, Web and GPS. The Tour did everything we could hope for, but it was hardly a world tour without a share of problems.
The first issue we discovered was that the battery life of the handset was dreadful. This problem ironically has somewhat improved, which could be because of network improvements (something all the carriers say they are always doing). This is an issue with many handsets, but our advice is to bring a charger and any kind of quick recharge device so you’re not left with a dead smartphone.
The second issue was more frustrating. As we traveled through several countries our coverage varied greatly, and strangely in parts of Turkey the handsets constantly reset. This was worrisome to say the least, as it would be very difficult to get a replacement phone while traveling several thousand miles from home. Fortunately the problem corrected itself and appears to be an isolated incident – albeit one that no one at Verizon could explain. It will be something I’ll continue to investigate, but the most likely source is an incompatible network that caused the phone to shut down.