Finally! iPhone users have given up on AT&T

An independent survey shows that AT&T's crummy network performance and terrible customer service are slowing sales of Apple's new iPhone 4

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The survey was based on a sample of 1,000 consumers selected to match the demographics of the U.S. population and was not sponsored by a vendor, which gives me more confidence in its validity.

Is Verizon's network up to the challenge?
It's clear that the overwhelming success of the iPhone surprised AT&T and badly strained its network. Verizon, though, has had more time to prepare. But it's not yet clear how well its network would cope with a sudden influx of iPhone users.

Also unclear is the effect a Verizon iPhone would have on sales of the carrier's other phones and its partnership with their manufacturers. "It could be dramatic," says Heyboer.

Aside from the technological battle, there's the issue of pricing. "The shakeup of unlimited vs. tiered data plans will continue and become a key element of customer choice," he says. AT&T's abandonment of unlimited data plans this year and comments by Verizon and other telecom execs that they are likely to follow suit suggest, however, that any such battle would be temporary, such as to give Verizon a short-term marketing advantage as it establishes its iPhone bona fides.

Customer service goes head-to-head
I spent a lot of time complaining about AT&T's bad service, both in this blog and a more consumer-focused column I write for our sibling site I recently posted quite a rant about how badly AT&T handled my request to move landline and DSL service from one neighborhood here in San Francisco to another.

Apple customer service isn't perfect, of course, but I had an amazing experience last week when my iPhone acted up, and it's a good illustration of the wide culture gap between the two companies.

I was having trouble syncing my iPhone with Outlook and, while I was on the line with Apple support, it became apparent that the hardware, not the software, was the major culprit. In fact, when I tried the "restore" function in iTunes, the phone actually gave up the ghost and became a paperweight.

One hour later (I timed it), I had a new iPhone. The support person wrote a replacement order and made an appointment for me at an Apple retail location. When I got there, the folks at the Genius Bar had the new iPhone ready free of charge, no questions asked.

No one is happy when hardware dies. But the contrast between Apple support and AT&T's efforts only underline the findings of the Morpace report. Customers will run for the exits as soon as there is an alternative iPhone carrier. We'll see if Verizon is up to the challenge.

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This article, "Finally! iPhone users have given up on AT&T," was originally published by Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at

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