Continuing Gruber’s assessment of the 10 issues at Apple he feels worth their attention, we have the AT&T issue.
“AT&T. Apple is a company that clearly believes in the adage that if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself . Which is why it must stick in Cupertino’s craw that they are dependent on a carrier whose service in cities like San Francisco is almost comically bad. Has it reached the point where Apple turns to AT&T (T) and says, Darth Vader-style, “You have failed me for the last time”? Gruber thinks not, if only because AT&T so desperately needs the iPhone that Apple can extract far better terms from them than it ever could from Verizon (VZ). So he takes Tim Cook at his word when Apple’s COO tells analysts that the company has reviewed AT&T’s plans and is going to give it time to work out the kinks. Meanwhile, however, AT&T’s service problems are draining Apple’s good will.”
Although I’m based in the UK, and the carrier of choice here was until recently O2, I can see the crux of this comment, and it comes back to little old thing, ‘user experience’.
The reason why the Macintosh has such a good user experience because Apple control the hardware and software – and we have a similar set up with the iPhone.
I’m almost certain that Apple would, if they could, run their own mobile network (be an MVNO), by renting the service from another supplier, much as in the same way Virgin do – indeed, there were rumours to that effect in the run-up to the release of the iPhone.
For whatever reason, they don’t, so the next best thing is to gain as much control of the mobile carrier as they can. They have AT&T in an armlock, and this is because Apple see mobile network operators as just that – they run the network, and that’s it.
AT&T service isn’t the best, but they have the best terms and it’s those terms that allow Apple to control the iPhone user experience.
Service quality can (and by all accounts is) being improved, but it’s user experience that matters to Apple, once you lose control of it, it’s gone forever.