I love this phrase: The iPhone is the Hummer of cellphones. Jenna Wortham in NYT:
Slim and sleek as it is, the iPhone is really the Hummer of cellphones. It’s a data guzzler. Owners use them like minicomputers, which they are, and use them a lot. Not only do iPhone owners download applications, stream music and videos and browse the Web at higher rates than the average smartphone user, but the average iPhone owner can also use 10 times the network capacity used by the average smartphone user.
In other words, Apple built a device that everyone loves, and AT&T treated customers like insurance agents. “What? You want to actually use the device?” Hence, a clogged network when users actually used the device.
The result is dropped calls, spotty service, delayed text and voice messages and glacial download speeds as AT&T’s cellular network strains to meet the demand. Another result is outraged customers.
Here in New York AT&T’s service is spotty at best and potty at worst. What’s inbetween? A paradoxical love for the iPhone and a growing hatred for AT&T. Life will be better when Verizon gets the iPhone, right? Maybe for awhile.
Cellphone owners using other carriers may gloat now, but the problems of AT&T and the iPhone portend their future. Other networks could be stressed as well as more sophisticated phones encouraging such intense use become popular.
The problem here is that other smartphone users are not using their phones the same way as iPhone owners. No other phone strains AT&T’s network like the iPhone. Despite the obvious public relations black eye, what’s in all this grief for AT&T?
AT&T’s right to be the exclusive carrier for iPhone in the United States has been a golden ticket for the wireless company. The average iPhone owner pays AT&T $2,000 during his two-year contract — roughly twice the amount of the average mobile phone customer. But at the same time the iPhone has become an Achilles’ heel for the company.
The problem here is capacity and demand. AT&T underestimated demand, and in many markets, just does not yet have the capacity to handle the growing usage trends of iPhone owners. John Donovan, of AT&T:
It’s been a challenging year for us. Overnight we’re seeing a radical shift in how people are using their phones. There’s just no parallel for the demand.
Whatever happened to MMS and tethering? The answer is obvious. AT&T does not have the capacity in the network to meet the demand of iPhone users.
The company has also delayed bandwidth-heavy features like multimedia messaging, or text messages containing pictures, audio or video. It is also postponing “tethering,” which allows the iPhone to share its Internet connection with a computer, a standard feature on many rival smartphones. AT&T says it has no intention of capping how much data iPhone owners use.
If 3G is not so hot, what’s next? Basically, it’s the change from dial-up to broadband, from your PC modem connecting to the phone line, to DSL connecting you to the internet. More speed.
In preparation for the next wave of smartphones and data demands, all the carriers are rushing to introduce the next-generation of wireless networks, called 4G.
Rushing? Since when does a phone company rush? Who’s to blame for AT&T’s mess? Apple? iPhone users? AT&T?