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US Carriers Are Like Those *(!*#@ In-Laws



After posting this morning about my thoughts on Windows Phone 7, the first commenter, Todd, bemoaned the fact that AT&T and T-Mobile will be the first Windows Phone 7 carriers. First, Todd, we’ll see Windows Phone 7 on Verizon and Sprint next year. But more to the point of this post, we here in the US are stuck with the carriers and the ways they operate in much the same way we get stuck with our in-laws when we choose to marry someone.  It’s just a fact of life that probably isn’t going to change in my life time. Actually, I think it is easier to get a divorce than it would be to find a different carrier solution.

If ever there was a chance to change how the carriers operate I think we’ve unfortunately missed that window. Apple’s iPhone opened that window with all the woes that users experienced on the pitiful excuse of what AT&T calls its network. The scrutiny and the problems quickly became a national (and international) joke. Yet somehow, AT&T managed to not only continue to do what it does (doesn’t) and in fact found new ways to frustrate consumers while it has been caught in the spotlight like a convict escaping from prison. Once AT&T’s exclusivity of the iPhone ends (perhaps early next year), that spotlight will diminish, and the pressure for change will ease somewhat. Although I expect all those dreaming of a Verizon iPhone will have some issues when that finally occurs as well. Sure, if an iPhone on Verizon ever materializes there will be those who change, but that isn’t going to change how the carriers do business. There’s no upside for them to do so as long as we keep buying their products and services. And we will continue to do so.

AT&T isn’t the only culprit here. All four carriers have issues of one sort or the other, and depending on where you live, those issues can be severe or just an annoyance. The bottom line is that this isn’t going to change, and regardless of what innovation happens on the mobile hardware front, the gadget goodies that get unwrapped on Christmas morning will have some of the sheen taken off by those pesky in-laws when they arrive to spoil yet another Christmas. The carriers rely on most of their customers being like Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation than they would care to admit.

P.S. Don’t get me wrong, I love my in-laws.



  1. aftermath

    10/12/2010 at 2:32 pm

    “If ever there was a chance to change how the carriers operate I think we’ve unfortunately missed that window. Apple’s iPhone opened that window…”

    The exact opposite is true. The Apple and AT&T abuse syndicate proved to the telecom industries that consumers would WAIT IN LINE for the opportunity to suffer through the worst possible consumer experience available from any of the major telecoms. If you pretend that consumers are rational and then bemoan the lack of sensibility that you find out in the wild, you’re doing little more than reviewing yourself. The only way situations like this will change if we have smarter consumers who act in the best interest of everybody. Good luck with that.

  2. Jeffrey Glen Jackson

    10/12/2010 at 2:53 pm

    I have never (no exaggeration) gone into the local Verizon store without there being a customer ahead of me so irate that they are screaming at the top of the lungs at the poor salesman (or saleswoman, but more often than not, man). Carriers seem to have a way of bringing out the worst in people. I myself have walked out in frustration, having gone in specifically to buy a phone, and left deciding to stick with my old one for a while longer.

  3. acerbic

    10/13/2010 at 2:37 am

    It’s unfair to equate them like that. I’ve dealt with Verizon, AT&T and T-Mo and swore never again to do any business with Verizon or AT&T because of constant billing “mistakes” that always benefit the carrier. T-Mo has never done that or anything else truly offensive, so it’s perhaps like a sister-in-law who is sometimes a little annoying but never really infuriating.

  4. Xavier Lanier

    10/13/2010 at 4:50 am

    Warner…aren’t you being a little harsh on wireless carriers by calling them in-laws?

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