Most everyone who owns an iPhone bought it subsidized from AT&T, with nice pricing at the cost of two years of their life. I however was never one of those people. My first experience with the iPhone was through my dear friend eBay. I didn’t have the money for AT&T’s ridiculous plan pricing, and I was (and still am) a very loyal customer to T-Mobile. Some say I have a bias when it comes to comparing T-Mobile over AT&T, and I will not deny it. But let me tell you that everyone is biased – and if they tell you otherwise, then you need to be careful because those are the most suspicious people of all.
Now I did not want to betray T-Mobile. It showed me compassion as the only carrier to take me in from the harsh phoneless world without any credit to my name. But now there was the iPhone, which had been enticing everyone and leading them away from their original provider. I knew I couldn’t leave, but I wanted this beautiful object so much I was nearly ready to sell my left kidney. You only need one right?
So my intentions before ever buying the device were to jailbreak it and unlock it for use on T-Mobile. And I am very glad I did, with the many complaints you hear about AT&T’s network being incapable of fully supporting the Apple handset. Now some may be quick to say that AT&T is evil and wants to take over the world, and that these complaints are “just desserts.” I know I felt that way sometimes. But I also wondered if any network in the U.S. would have truly been prepared for the iPhone.
When it was first released, there were hundreds of thousands of customers lining up to purchase this device. And AT&T has sold millions upon millions since. Now with all these iPhones taking up AT&T’s bandwidth, the network’s quality has been scrutinized and criticized heavily. But could anyone make a claim that this would not have happened on T-Mobile or even Verizon?
If you’re one of the many iPhone hopefuls who have been waiting for your preferred mobile provider to nab the smartphone, consider this: Getting what you want might not be all it’s cracked up to be – especially if it involves another exclusivity deal with a single carrier. If the iPhone jumps into another exclusivity arrangement, the weight of this popular gadget is going to fall entirely on one company’s shoulders again. (Yes, there are a few unlocked phones out there being used on other networks, but those are a relatively small percentage.)
Rumor has it that Verizon was initially approached by Apple to carry the iPhone. Had the company said yes at the beginning, the focus might now be on Verizon’s possibly “subpar” network. I call this the “iPhone Dilemma.” No matter where the handset would have landed, there would be complaints about that carrier not doing its proper job as the sole carrier.
These days, people have been gossiping about Apple turning away from AT&T and looking for greener pastures. Some say Verizon is the best choice because of its subscriber base. Others are saying T-Mobile, mainly because of the compatible technology (they are both GSM cellular networks), but Tmo may not be ready either.
The best scenario is for Apple to leave exclusivity behind, and offer different versions for multiple carriers. The burden would be shared, more consumers could use the platform and AT&T would have some relief in the strain that the device puts on its network. AT&T should not be scared of the day this happens, but look forward to it. It could possibly mean the end of all these complaints and bad press, which is something this company desperately needs.
There’s also another possible solution to the iPhone Dilemma: Abroad, the retail of unlocked phones that are usable on multiple networks is common. Personally, I hope that the U.S. won’t trail too far behind the rest of the world when it comes to this handset.
Yes, it would be more expensive, but some people would love the ability to get Apple’s pride and joy and use it on any network they wish. Google is rumored to be debuting its new Nexus One smartphone as an unlocked device at the full, unsubsidized price. Although contracts may have blinded America to the true cost of cellular devices, I can’t help but believe some of us would still welcome this change. I know I would.