As a matter of full disclosure and to emphasize my points, I am one of those notorious Apple fan boys. When Apple announces a new product, I tend to transfer money to my checking account so that I can be the first kid on the block to have the greatest and latest from Cupertino. I love my iPhone. It has seriously changed how I get things done on a daily basis. I’m also a Cocoa programmer. For the Mac I develop an application named FastCapture for Casting Networks. You’ve never heard of it but probably most of the commercials you’ve seen on TV used it to capture and share auditions. For the iPad I made a simple game named Match Made that only took me about 3-4 days to write. For the iPhone I participated in the iPhone Reality Show by Command Guru where we were tasked to develop wikimeety in a week.
I briefly had the 2G and subsequently waited in line for both the 3G and 3GS. I’ve purchased 3 iPads, only one of which ultimately belong to me (64GB 3G). I had fully planned to wait in line for the next iPhone too but as a result of yesterday’s AT&T announcements that has changed.
My qualms with AT&T are not a result of increased costs. In fact, if I continued to use my iPhone like I currently do I would stand to drop $5 from my monthly bill. This is a matter of principle where I cannot stand by and give money to a company which displays an absolute disrespect for its customers. AT&T’s new iPhone plans and 3G MicroCell offering have revealed the true nature of this criminal company.
I am not one of individuals who complains about AT&T’s service quality. I actually don’t have that many problems and tend to get 3G coverage most anywhere I need or want it. My North Hollywood apartment provides me with 5 3G bars. Suffice to say I don’t need the MicroCell. However I can’t condone the way that AT&T has treated this personal cell tower. They want you to pay for the device and to use your existing internet connection to extend their network (albeit only for your personal use) and relieve the burden on their own towers’ traffic. AT&T and all other providers pay landowners (even churches) to allow them to erect towers on their property. In light of this it seems very wrong that the consumer should pay AT&T to erect a tower. The consumer is also saving them money by not using their limited tower capacity. Even though you are bypassing much of their network by using your own minutes are still deducted from the individual’s wireless plan. One of the primary components of a “minute” is the rental of AT&T’s tower capacity which is not being used in this case. Now there are more specifics and different deals associated with the MicroCell but they all point to AT&T taking more from the customer while providing them less. If AT&T cared about their product and the consumers who use it they would either offer the device for free or they would charge for the device but not deduct wireless minutes while using the it. Obviously this is not the case. Instead AT&T is using their inadequacies to charge the consumer more. What incentive do they have to improve their wireless network when they can make more when their network is bad. This is scary stuff.
That scary stuff was extended yesterday by the introduction of tethering along with new iPhone data plans to replace the current unlimited data plan. Yesterday, AT&T reached out and slapped me. No longer do they provide unlimited access but instead cap the user at 2GB for $25 (compared to the previous $30 unlimited plan). We all know that this is to solve the data usage onslaught that the iPhone introduced. I’m actually not to upset about this. I checked my data usage and the most I’ve used in a single month is around 600 MB and I rarely ever turn on the WiFi on my phone. What upsets me is the additional $20 charge for tethering. If only tethering were introduced this additional charge would be reasonable. After all, the reason that AT&T didn’t allow tethering on the iPhone a year ago when the rest of the world got it is because of the inevitable increased data use. However, they solved their data use problem by implementing the 2 GB plan. Now they are just getting greedy. If the consumer pays for a specific amount of data then who cares how they utilize it? There is no increased cost to AT&T for tethering. It is already a feature built into every 3GS but blocked by the carrier. In addition, suppose I did pony up the additional $20, I still couldn’t use it on one of the 2 devices that I would want it for. That device is the iPad. Yes, this is technically a limitation by Apple but I think we can all safely assume who is behind that decision. So now in order to use AT&T internet access on my devices I would end up spending $25 for 2GB of usage on my iPhone, $20 to use some of that same data on my MacBook Pro, and another $25 for 2 more gigabytes to use on my iPad. This equates to $75 a month for 4GB of non-refundable, non-transferable data. Instead AT&T should have done one of two things:
- Maintain the unlimited data plan but charge an additional fee for tethering.
- Cap the usage but enable tethering for free.
Even though I am not currently in danger of hitting running over the new data cap this may not be so with a new iPhone. If leaks and rumors turn out to be true then increased usage is a natural result not to mention the confirmed features in iPhone OS 4.0. There will be more apps downloading more data in the background, the ability to stream audio, and the temptation to use video conferencing. I’m reminded of the movie Devil’s Advocate where Al Pacino playing the devil portrays God as a tease, “Look but don’t touch. Touch but don’t taste. Taste but don’t swallow.”
The offerings that AT&T continuously forces users to adopt (if they want something only available on AT&T) are void of common sense. They advertise the absolute disrespect and contempt that AT&T holds for its paying customers. AT&T profits when their network is worse and therefore it is reasonable to assume that it will get worse. If they improved their network, what extra features and devices could they charge for? I ca not condone this behavior and mentality with my money.
Remember, I am not complaining about my overall bill and will happily pay the same or even more to another company. I really love my iPhone and can’t stand the idea of giving it up. I think the Android OS is a miserable experience. WebOS (by Palm and now HP) is pretty cool but the hardware is underpowered. I’m worried by comments from HP which essentially indicate its death as a smartphone though. In light of this news I’m considering getting the Sprint HTC EVO 4G even though it is Android-based. I’m not sure I’d get 4G coverage yet in Los Angeles but at least I could try it out when I go home to visit my family in Kansas City (Leawood, KS). The iPhone attraction is admittedly strong so don’t hold me accountable if I end up swallowing my pride by purchasing the next iPhone. Hopefully I wouldn’t be so weak to cave in by its launch though.
Call me a bad person, I don’t care, but I do not have well-wishes for the AT&T executives. News of their plight might stir a mini-celebration deep within.