The iPhone Helps AT&T Retain Customer Loyalty

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-03-15 Print this article Print

5. What about pricing?

For the most part, AT&T offers several plans and phones for about the same price as the competition. That's not good enough. Once again, if AT&T really wants to be something beyond the iPhone's network provider, it needs to have an advantage. Offering better deals on service and equipment is a good first step.

6. Popular opinion

AT&T, like its competition, is not very well liked by customers. The company has suffered from customer service woes, problems with its network and criticism over its involvement in Apple App Store policies. All that has combined to make AT&T somewhat disliked. If AT&T really wants to enjoy success beyond the iPhone, it needs to change popular perception of its brand.

7. Draconian policies

AT&T's contracts are tough to get out of. And, unfortunately, the fees associated with getting out of a contract with AT&T are quite high. The iPhone has helped to quell some of the reaction to those fees. But if the iPhone is made available through all carriers, will those policies cause AT&T to lose subscribers? It's tough to say, since other firms in the space have similar regulations. But it certainly won't help.

8. The future will be different

For years, the mobile phone market has operated the same way. In many cases, AT&T has simply followed the industry's core practices since its inception. Because of that, it's hard to find fault with everything it does, since it's just following the industry's lead. But that will need to change soon. Customer habits are changing. Google is offering a new phone retail idea that could revolutionize the market. And with the popularity of the iPhone and Android-based devices leading the charge, mobile carriers are losing some of the power they once had. AT&T sits at the middle of that power struggle. If it loses the iPhone, it might be difficult for the company to adapt to the changing times.

9. The uniqueness is gone

Without the iPhone, AT&T loses its uniqueness. For the past few years, the carrier has operated as a unique brand in the marketplace and it has enjoyed success because of it. Once AT&T loses that uniqueness, there's not much more it can do to coax subscribers to its network other than to target the competition in areas where it feels it has an advantage. Being unique means everything in the mobile business. AT&T can't forget that.

10. What else is there?

Let's be honest: AT&T is little more than the company that offers the iPhone. As mentioned above, it has no advantage over other carriers besides Apple's smartphone. It fails to distance itself from the practices that have made carriers so hated. And it continues to engage in poorly executed strategies to maintain its fragile hold over the market. The iPhone is the main reason for AT&T's success. Without it, the company's position in the market would be tenuous at best. AT&T knows that. And it understands that it needs to get to work on improving its operation now. After all, the iPhone won't be exclusive to its network forever.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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