There’s a Fee for that…

Posted by steve | Mobile Phones | Friday 13 November 2009 5:46 pm

I currently own and use an iPhone with AT&T. And I love this iPhone. It offers an ease of use and seemless elegance that’s unmatched. The user interface really is intuitive. Some people dont get how important that is.

My only real complaint has been that, at least where I live, the AT&T wireless network is not as robust as the Verison wireless network.

Yes, I used to be a Verizon customer. And when the iPhone was announced I couldn’t wait for the day that it became available so I could drop my Verizon contract and open up a brand new AT&T contract. I wasn’t just a “switcher”, I was eager and delighted to leave. I knew the wireless service would not be as strong yet I gladly switched.

I tried a number of high-end mobile phones when I was with Verizon. With the new Droid phone it looks like Verizon finally has a phone that competes with Apple’s iPhone. But I’m never going back. I can sum it up in one word.

Fees.

Verizon was certain to find some way to make my daily use of my phone expensive. If I wanted to transfer a picture from my phone, they had the BluTooth wireless interface crippled on my Motorola V710 phone. The only way to transfer a picture either to or from the phone without cables was to use their network. And there was a fee for that.

How about music files like ring tones? There was a fee for that too.

Synchronize my contacts with my computer? Could it have been any more difficult?

Heaven help you if you accidently used too many minutes. There was a fee for that too. And it just felt like they weren’t trying to make it easy to not make that mistake.

Unused minutes? Too bad you lost them. Money in someone else’s pocket, but not mine.

It honestly felt that their profit model was to make money off customer mistakes and even everyday power-user activities.

Now I read that they have announced that they are doubling contract termination fees for smart phone customers. Is that to stop more users from switching to the iPhone? From what I can tell, the iPhone has been a huge success in the smart phone market. Is Verizon worried that new Droid owners may still get frustrated and switch anyway?

It’s a free market and I think it’s fair that Verizon can do whatever the market will bear. I think they do have a better network. But for this customer, the iPhone just made switching away easy. I didn’t care at all whatever it took to get out from under their tent.

Do I think AT&T is flawless? No. I get dropped calls. And I would prefer even cheaper monthly wireless costs. But I have never once felt like they treated me like a revenue opportunity, ensuring to profit on everything I do. And the iPhone really is an awesome mobile device.

There is a subtle message in Verizon’s latest commercials. They actually are very clever and make me laugh. The Land of Lost Toys commercial is great. Especially because I think they hit on the only weakness that exists. The little blue 3G coverage map the iPhone shows has to make an existing iPhone user laugh. It’s a pretty good observation.

But here’s the subtle thing. I think that commercial doesn’t pick on the iPhone. Instead it’s saying the iPhone is crippled by the wireless network it lives on. I suspect that Verizon wants an iPhone in their stable, and we may see one in the future. I believe Verizon made a huge mistake on the iPhone and they know it.

That will be interesting to see if it happens. What if one day in the future the consumer can decide which iPhone wireless carrier they want? Wouldn’t that be interesting? I’d love to see AT&T compete with Verizon by being a better wireless provider.

Leave the iPhone out of the equation and see what happens. The customer wins.

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5 Comments

  1. Comment by Tom Koschate — November 13, 2009 @ 10:05 pm

    We’ve just entered the age of iPhone competition in Canada. All three (technically there’s four, but one is a captive discount brand) of our national networks now offer the iPhone. The contract price of the phone itself is the same on each network, and, so far, the basic plan prices are comparable. We’re waiting to see how the carriers differentiate themselves. However, I have little reason to expect one provider to emerge as superior to the rest.

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