Since we got our first iPhone 3Gs last summer, my girlfriend and I have had vastly different experiences. And sadly, I don’t think either one is atypical.
We both had first-gen iPhones, which we sold. We both appreciate the iPhone platform, the always on e-mail, the application platform, the instant purchase of music, the download of podcasts, the fact that it plays video, and the three thousand other things that the iPhone OS is really good at doing.
But that’s where the similiarity ends.
It comes down to how we use our phones. I typically use my iPhone for data and texting, and web browsing and push updates from apps using 3G and WiFi. She does a lot of that as well, but she does a lot more actual TALKING on the phone, and will spend sometimes 30 to 60 minutes on a call back to talk to her family. I may talk on the phone in very short spurts (it’s rare that a phone conversation lasts more than 2 or 3 minutes).
I’ve had one phone in the last year. It’s worked mostly fine, save for the first 6 weeks I had it when AT&Ts network was woefully inadequate, and the one time that it refused to show missed calls and voicemails and ended up pissing off the Indian Food delivery guy waiting in the lobby for 45 minutes because my phone didn’t ring (in an ironic twist of karma, I cut my finger on the foil box the food was in). My definition of “fine” is inherently because I use the phone mostly for data, and data connections have higher failure rate for delivery. (If your 2MB connection delivers 98% of it’s data rate, you’re not likely to notice the missing 2% because of redundancy checks). Both of my “failure” stories are isolated by the simple fact that I haven’t had to use voice services terribly often, and both of those were probably AT&T’s fault. But since they were simple and isolated, and I tend to give benefit of the doubt more often than not, for me, it’s “not an issue”. I use my iPhone as a computer.
My girlfriend has constantly had problems. Dropped calls, not dead deadzones, no voice capability with “5 bars”, missing calls, missing voicemails. So, she’s spent many hours on the phone with AT&T and tech support, and they’ve really been unable to help her. In the end, it’s because she uses her iPhone as a phone.
She’s gone through two iPhones so far. Her bad service was a result of the phone. Both times. Estimated nonsubsidized price – $599 each. But, most amusing was her last conversation with AT&T. After a lengthy conversation with a AT&T customer rep, which became a lengthy call with AT&T tech support (“it was a problem with Apple”), which became a lengthy session with the Apple tech support rep (“20% call fail rate? after which he audibly laughed”), which then went back to the customer rep when she asked to cancel her account without fee due to the high failure rate (“sorry we can’t do that, it’s $116”). So, they then monitored her service for about a week or so, and determined, yeah, it’s a problem with the phone. For the third itme.
So, now she has her third iPhone. Out of pocket, AT&T’s spent more than $1800 on phones, to fix a problem that they could have handled for $116 cancellation fee. Even prorated for the value rest of her 2 year contract (up next summer), AT&T is at best losing $600 on her as a customer. All because they can’t admit their capacity problems and do something about it, or actually figure out the issue instead of playing the blame game with their “corporate partner”.
Am I missing something? Does this sound like good business to you?
Here’s hoping Apple wises up and discontinues iPhone exclusivity as soon as possible. Until then, nobody wins.