Why I’m Annoyed At AT&T: They Can’t Handle The iPhone

June 12, 2009

Yes, this is another post among many others stating my annoyance of AT&T’s iPhone 3GS upgrade policy. But please bear with me, because I’m going beyond just the dollars and cents of subsidized phones and contracts.

Yes, I know when I purchased an iPhone 3G I signed a contract for 2 years and AT&T subsidized the price of the phone and I should not expect something for free, yada, yada, yada.

But my annoyance is based on how so many of us consumers accept this as normal: that a cell phone company makes us sign 2 year contracts, subsidizes phones, charges hundreds of dollars per month for service – and we consumers should just suck it up and deal.

When Apple first announced the iPhone, there was a glimmer of hope on my part, that Apple would be able to shake things up in the cell phone industry. They have clearly accomplished this in hardware. But meanwhile, in the cell phone carrier realm, Apple has been much less successful.

But there are signs to change in that realm up ahead. The more iPhones sold, a user base grows that has more loyalty to Apple than AT&T. Hopefully, over time, Apple can use this as leverage to get better terms for us iPhone users. It might start with the iPhone becoming available on more than one carrier, forcing welcome competition among plans, and hopefully we’ll get some real change in contract terms. A one year contract makes more sense as it’s more in tune with Apple’s hardware release schedule, and perhaps the subsidy will vanish entirely as more iPhones are produced in volume.

It’s worth remembering how Apple shook up the music industry with the iPod and iTunes. Second, AT&T’s exclusivity deal expires in 2010, then add the knowledge that Apple has no qualms ditching partners that held them back (Motorola and the PowerPC).

So that’s why I’m annoyed at AT&T. Not just because of dollars and cents, but because the future is bearing down on them, and they seem unable to recognize it by not offering better deals, and simultaneously being ill-prepared for Apple’s constant push forward.

I hope some of that annoyance is shared by the Apple folks when it comes time to renegotiate with AT&T.