It does not take a genius to realize that AT&T was not ready to handle iPhone’s load from the get go. Getting an exclusive contract with Apple may have been a major coup for it. But AT&T’s flaws got exposed badly as the network has failed to keep up with iPhone’s growth. Things were so bad that Steve Jobs considered pulling iPhone from AT&T network at least 6 times. AT&T has made some investments to try and handle the issue, but iPhone issues still persist (so do the restrictions on things one can do with an iPhone).
AT&T clearly did not know what it had in its fold with iPhone. Apple’s products are more than just about hardware or software. They are about the experience. Apple iPhone is certainly not what it intends to be without video messaging and tethering. Yet, AT&T has had some of these restrictions in place just to keep up. Steve Jobs was not pleased (according to Wired.com’s story on this relationship):
Jobs actively considered splitting with AT&T early in the partnership. Just months after the iPhone launched, and not long after Rinne asked Apple to limit YouTube usage, Jobs was investigating another possible solution: dropping AT&T and striking a deal with Verizon. But because Verizon’s network ran on a different transmission technology, making the move would require an entirely new chipset. So around the end of 2007, when the iPhone was only a few months old, Jobs asked a team of executives and engineers to look into it.
Jobs and his team would continue to discuss switching to Verizon, but these were always short conversations. “Every time the issue of switching came up, it always seemed to cause as many problems as it solved,” according to a source who attended some of these meetings.
Wireless carriers have started changing their plans to handle their customers’ needs much more effectively (or make more money off of their customers if you choose to see it that way). Apple and other companies will continue to put out products that push the boundaries of wireless carriers’ plans. The way things are going, it’s not even clear Verizon will have enough to handle iPhone without network issues. AT&T and Apple are both to blame for some of the things iPhone owners have experienced in the past few years. But things are not as black and white as they seem.
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