I swear I did not intend for my first columns to be mostly about the iPhone. I haven’t even touched an iPhone, at least in part because Apple doesn’t love me anymore. What writers do and don’t get from Apple, in terms of review products and attention, is based on two factors: what you might do for them and what you’ve done for them lately.
Since my sabbatical into the software business, I haven’t been in a position to do much for Apple. I didn’t write for some months, and I’ve only recently started this column. While the IBTimes has a healthy readership, we’re all aware that we aren’t the New York Times. Someday, but not quite yet.
Being at a major media outlet, like the Times, the Journal, or the TV networks, is a great way to get (and keep) Apple’s attention. Especially if you’re a good “friend” of Apple, which the writers who cover Apple tend to be. Note who got the early review units—all of those people, collectively, have said nary a bad word about Apple in years.
So, if you are a kiss-up at a major media organization, you get the scoop. Meanwhile, if you see both sides of Apple and write about them, you will eventually get on the company’s bad side. Apple one of the world’s most sensitive companies, so getting crossways with them is pretty easy to do. Right now, I am not even sure what I did to run afoul of Apple, except maybe not be fawning enough.
For the record, I love Macs and recently purchased a MacBook Pro as my main computer, using Parallel virtualization software to run Windows when I need that operating system.
Amid the otherwise happy early notices the iPhone has received from its friends in the media has been almost universal criticism of AT&T’s slow network, which takes all the great features of the iPhone and makes them a lot less wonderful.
In the run-up to the iPhone introduction, many wondered aloud why AT&T hadn’t already announced pricing for its service plans. The bigger question was how AT&T would deal with the huge gulps of data iPhone users are likely to consume when browsing the web, sending email, playing videos, etc.
The more successful the iPhone, the more data individual users are going to consume. The more data demand, the more bandwidth AT&T must provide, and networks can be a capacity-constrained resource. Adding more capacity is expensive.
How does AT&T deal with that? By offering a slow data rate, that’s how. And service plans that start at $60 and head skyward. But who cares what service costs if it’s too slow to be very much fun to use?
What AT&T has done is akin to inviting iPhone customers to an all-you-can-eat (data) buffet and then take the buffet away mid-meal. “Yes that was ALL you can eat,” I can almost hear AT&T telling the iPhoners. “No matter how much you want!”
Is this the same AT&T that has apparently built plans for a resurgence in its cellular business upon the shoulders of the iPhone? If so, they have an interesting way of potentially snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
The downside of a connected world is that, well, everything is connected. So a perfectly swell handset like the iPhone turns out to be much less perfect because it’s tied to a bad carrier. Given the 5-year exclusive marketing agreement that ties the iPhone to AT&T, I’d expect there to be much pressure from Cupertino for AT&T to get it’s network running faster. Lest the iPhone become the same “great idea, but” that the Newton handheld turned into.
It’s sad that the iPhone is introduced, essentially, with one hand tied behind its back. A hot-selling phone deserves a hot-performing network. Too bad Steve Jobs didn’t find one.