Sep 142012

With all the hubbub about the new iPhone, I hate to feel like one of the herd and admit I’m getting one. But I am, it’s already ordered, and this will be my third iPhone. It’s a technology that has changed my life, and I am a big fan of Apple products, both the engineering and design.

Apple has had a huge impact on the technology industry, and on our lives in general. It’s an admirable company any way you look at it, and I have to laugh at all the pundits that complain about the similarity to prior generations, the new dock connector, the lack of (unproven) near-field communications, all the silly ways that people try to criticize the most remarkably successful product line in our lives. There is a very profound article that came out yesterday, written by the venerable M.G. Siegler, that I highly recommend. This is excellent depthful analysis and commentary. M.G., my hat is off to you, you are awesomely brilliant to reach in and find this insight.

I have two personal comments to make about the new iPhone. First, I observe that MANY of my friends (as well as myself) are coming off contract with their iPhone 3G’s and 4’s, and are intending to upgrade. There is a ton of pent-up demand, and this thing is gonna sell like hotcakes. I’m hanging onto my AAPL stock, which I fully expect to outperform the market for at least another six months.

But the deeper issue for me is about my carrier for more than a decade, AT&T. I’m deeply annoyed with them, and taking advantage of this new product to switch to Verizon. Many of my issues with AT&T are the same as others, frequent dropped calls and dead spots as I drive on major highways, no coverage at my house, very poor coverage up at our family cabin in Mill Creek, a crappy website that is slow and hard to use, long waits for tech support. They are a big company, and it shows. Like Lily Tomlin famously said nearly fifty years ago, “We don’t care, we don’t have to, we’re the phone company!”

The tipping point came earlier this year after Nancy passed away. AT&T refused to waive the early termination fee for her mobile phone contract, and let me drop her phone number from our family plan. Their excuse was that “she was not the primary number on the family plan”.

This is just bad customer relations. I am happily dropping my mobile service with them, do not use them for internet or anything else, and will refuse to do business with them for the rest of my life. And I’m spreading the word. All my friends with Verizon are happy with their coverage, and AT&T does more for Verizon and Sprint marketing than they do for themselves.

In two weeks, when I get my new phone, when I find the service is acceptable, when I find I can use it at home (where a new Verizon cell tower is being built soon) I’ll happily be ending my AT&T account. And switching cell phone numbers from my old one to Nancy’s old number. It’s a little way to memorialize her, and memorialize the reason why I’m dumping AT&T after twenty five years of service (starting with Cellular One in 1986).

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