Apple Must Distance Itself from ATandT: 10 Reasons Why

News Analysis: AT&T has been called the worst mobile phone carrier by Consumer Reports. While Apple shouldn't end its relationship with AT&T, it's time for Apple to distance itself by moving the iPhone to other carriers.

When it comes to mobile phone carriers, AT&T is the worst, according to Consumer Reports. The company examined the overall value of service, customer support, voice and data service quality to make its recommendation. In every category, AT&T placed behind the competition.

The review is obviously bad news for AT&T. But it's also bad news for Apple. For years now, the hardware company has maintained an exclusive agreement with AT&T to sell the iPhone in the United States. This keeps Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile customers from acquiring the popular iPhones. If consumers and enterprise customers take Consumer Reports' review to heart, it could have a direct impact on their decision to switch to that carrier just to get their hands on the iPhone.

With that in mind, Apple needs to distance itself from AT&T. It shouldn't stop offering the iPhone on AT&T's network-that would be a huge mistake. But it adds urgency to its decision to bring the iPhone to at least the Verizon network. Apple's link with AT&T is simply too strong and it needs to be weakened. Apple should also make it clear that it's AT&T's service that's getting the bad marks from Consumer Reports, not the iPhone.

Here's why:

1. The "worst carrier" allegation

The most obvious reason why Apple needs to distance itself from AT&T is the Consumer Reports review. Apple is well-known for its outstanding products that deliver a sense of quality and premium feel. AT&T isn't the same kind of company. The more Apple aligns its brand exclusively with AT&T, the worse it will be for the company.

2. Apple is a premium provider of a premium product

As mentioned, Apple is a premium provider of a premium product. It delivers products that consumers covet, and it does it with a sense of flair that no other company in the space can match. But by being linked so closely with AT&T, the company's brand perception could be hurt. It should in no way end its business relationship with AT&T-that would significantly impact its operation-but it should ink a deal with another carrier soon and make it clear that AT&T is only a partner, not a key ally.

3. It makes the iPhone look less desirable

Let's face it: If AT&T's service really is the worst in the business, the iPhone is a less desirable product today to some customers. Sure, the device might be a leader in the smartphone market, but consumers don't want to use a device that has poor data and voice service, thanks to AT&T. AT&T has been (remember iPhone 4 order issues?) and now will definitely continue to be a major thorn in Apple's side as it tries to sell more iPhones to consumers.

4. It makes consumers wonder when Verizon will get the iPhone

With the latest review from Consumer Reports, one can be sure that consumers are now hoping that Apple will be bringing the iPhone to Verizon store shelves sooner rather than later. Since the iPhone's launch in 2007, it has been available only to AT&T customers. Some folks are getting tired of waiting for the smartphone to come to Verizon's stores. If this isn't enough to get Apple to do it, some might wonder what will be.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...