Another answer to a frequently asked question.
I’m a devoted Mac user and have been since I got my first Mac back in 1989. I’ve written dozens of books and hundreds of articles about Mac OS and applications that run on Macintosh computers. I currently own six Macs, including two Mac laptops, a 24″ iMac, and a Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh. I have four iPods. I even own Apple stock.
But I don’t have an iPhone.
People ask me why I don’t have an iPhone. The answer is very simple: AT&T.
I won’t switch to AT&T. I’ve used them in the past and their service frankly sucks. I don’t like talking to India when I have a billing or technical support problem. I don’t like the fact that if they screw up your bill, you can’t get it fixed and they put a black mark on your credit report. For as little as $26 they claim you owe them.
And if personal opinions regarding AT&T’s service aren’t enough, then let’s look at its service area. It simply doesn’t cover the areas I need coverage in. Like at my house — AT&T’s coverage is spotty. Or at our place on Howard Mesa — AT&T won’t work there at all. And other places I’ve been to.
Don’t believe me? Look at these two coverage maps, keeping in mind that I live in a small town on the edge of nowhere in Arizona. AT&T’s service in my town is through a “partner” — it doesn’t even have regular service here.
I need a cell phone that works everywhere I go. I go a lot of places in the west and I go a lot of places where there simply aren’t any cities. AT&T is a city cell phone provider.
Apple partnered with AT&T for the iPhone. While I believe this was a mistake, AT&T probably doesn’t think so. Right after the iPhone’s introduction, many users dropped their carriers (no pun intended) to switch to AT&T so they could buy iPhones. If Apple had gone with Verizon, it probably would have killed AT&T’s mobile business. It seems to me that the iPhone is the only reason someone might want to use AT&T.
I invested in a Palm Treo 700p with Verizon a month before the iPhone came out. I knew it was going to AT&T and I knew I couldn’t have one. So I invested in the Palm with a 2-year plan, just so I wouldn’t be tempted to do something stupid. I didn’t regret it at all. Although my Treo didn’t look slick, like an iPhone, it did things that an iPhone couldn’t do — like act as a Bluetooth modem to get my laptops on the Internet when I’m hanging around an off-the-grid cabin on top of an Arizona mesa. Or on a cruise ship off the coast of Alaska. Sure, an iPhone can connect to a WiFi network, but what if no network is available? Can it get a laptop on the ‘Net? My Treo could.
Last month, I stepped up to a Blackberry Storm. The darn thing sure looks a lot like an iPhone. It even works a lot like an iPhone. Yes, I know there aren’t as many apps, but do I really need all that crap on my phone?
And guess what? Even though they told me it wouldn’t work, I can still use the phone’s Bluetooth connection to get my laptops on the ‘Net when there’s no WiFi network around. I can still sync flawlessly with my Mac’s Address Book, iCal Calendar, and other data applications. I have voice dialing, better Bluetooth support, MP3 player capabilities, a built-in GPS that works with the mapping application, and more features than I know what to do with.
So while I admit that I did look longingly at iPhones when I was a Treo user, I no longer feel as if I’m missing out. I have what I need in a cell phone — including the most important thing: coverage — and more to explore in a slick, user-friendly package.
Choosing a cell phone should be a logical decision; not an emotional one. Logic told me to stick with Verizon and choose the Treo and then the Storm.
Please don’t think I’m knocking the iPhone. I’m not. I’m just saying that it isn’t the only solution for an Apple user. Some things are more important than having a cool-looking, popular phone. Service and features are right at the top of my list. AT&T and the iPhone simply won’t deliver the service and features I need.