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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tech: Contemplating The iPhone

Yes, it's the Jesus Phone; nobody else has anything remotely as good. The much ballyhooed Blackberry Storm proved to be a significant disappointment. The problem, of course, is AT&T; their legendarily bad customer service had me wishing for anybody else after years of being with them as a customer. Now, of course, it's AT&T Mobility, which consists mostly of Cingular's network, AT&T having pissed away their customer base. So I'm left contemplating reasons how I could possibly justify moving back to the company that still gives me pause for dealing with them, five years later (or so):
  1. Verizon's attitude is hardly better. Verizon recently said they favor exclusivity deals of the sort that AT&T signed with Apple; the necessary consequence is that Verizon could care less whether I have a superior product on their superior network. Huh? How's that helping your customers?
  2. There appears to be no hope on the horizon, either. Not that I've been scanning the new releases for smart phones much, but the difference between the pre-release hype and the actual product as delivered with the Storm has left me wondering if anybody in this space will ever get it right. This isn't helped by the Palm Pre, the new Sprint-only Palm phone, that has a few useful features (multitasking, something the current-gen iPhone doesn't support) but is generally clunkier physically (the slide-out QWERTY keyboard? Ugh).

    And then there's the Sprint network; a friend of mine at work couldn't even consistently get data access from our Ladera Heights office, which, while not vital, tells you how iffy their network is. (Not that AT&T is necessarily better; a friend of ours couldn't get service of any kind from her own home in an older part of Long Beach.)

  3. Kissing XM Radio goodbye. With the iPhone, there's absolutely no need for XM radio; I can get MLB Gameday Audio from the phone, and it works seamlessly. We drove to our friend's barbecue yesterday while listening (mostly) to the Cubs/White Sox game, and never missed a moment. Of course, this was on the southern end of the 605 on a Saturday, going through no major interchanges, so it's not much of a test; AT&T's big problem always was dropping calls at freeway interchanges in rush hour, or even long after (I always had trouble at the 710/405 and 110/405). Add to that the fact that I have hundreds of alternative classical stations to choose from doing online streaming (I love KUSC, but 99% of opera and 20th century composers I can live without), and it's a much more difficult choice to stay with Verizon. Crossing XM off my annual purchases alone will save me $200/year or so. Plus, with Gameday Audio, I can choose which feed to listen to.
The main reasons — so far, and I haven't gotten out of my bathrobe yet today, so this might change before the day's over — that I haven't switched are
  1. Data support, i.e. tethering. Supposedly this will be coming out for the iPhone later this year. I currently have a Verizon data card for my laptop, and while I love it when I (infrequently) need it, the AT&T version would be just as handy.
  2. Network quality. So far, AT&T has been pretty good for Helen; their service has made marked improvements since I was a customer, last in 2004.
  3. Customer service. I don't need it often, but Verizon does treat me with a respect the old AT&T didn't. But the new boss seems very much like a different game now.
Still biting my tongue on this one. Time to go for a run and clear out my head.


Why not try TMO? Ya, their coverage isn't always the greatest but their customer service is sublime and with UMA support, as long as you have a hotspot/wifi, connectivity isn't an issue. Granted, the number of UMA phones are pretty much cheeseball phones or blackberries....

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