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Is iPhone the 'worst phone ever'?

A new website provides an outlet for AT&T wireless users who are fed up with the network's ability -- or lack thereof -- to carry calls.

By Karen Datko May 26, 2010 3:23PM

This post comes from Jon Hood at partner site


A new website is setting the stage for a class-action lawsuit regarding the Apple iPhone's apparent propensity to drop calls.


The site lets iPhone users upload their internal phone data, including the number of calls that their respective phones have dropped. The site administrators plan to aggregate the data and file a lawsuit on behalf of everyone who has used the site.

The website calls the iPhone "the best portable computer ever made, while at the same time being the worst phone ever because it drops calls all the time," and urges users to "run Apple and AT&T through the ringer."


The site's administrators, Cory Forsyth and Dan Albritton, know firsthand the frustration that goes with a phone that drops calls. According to the website, they "make games that people play with cell phones, and every time that a client of ours does a demo with an iPhone that drops, or a player out in the world has the same thing happen, it diminishes the coolness of what we do."


Forsyth and Albritton also report that their "office is in Times Square, NYC, and our iPhones are completely useless there. It drives us bananas every day, and we're offended that AT&T is going to try to charge for their femtocell service."


Widespread dissatisfaction

The site provides a potential outlet for AT&T wireless users fed up with the network's ability -- or lack thereof -- to carry calls. A March survey conducted by research outfit ChangeWave found that AT&T drops 4.5% of all calls, more than any of its rivals: Sprint drops 2.4%, T-Mobile 2.8% and Verizon only 1.5%.

The survey also found that only 23% of AT&T users count themselves "very satisfied" with their cellular service, compared with 35% of Sprint customers and 49% of Verizon customers.


The survey said that "while Verizon has its all-time best dropped-call rating in the current ChangeWave survey, AT&T has just reached its all-time worst rating on this all-important measure." Indeed, a similar survey conducted in September 2008 found AT&T and Verizon less than a point apart, with AT&T dropping 3.6% of calls and Verizon 2.7%.


However, the iPhone itself is preventing AT&T users from jumping ship, at least for now. The ChangeWave survey reported that, despite AT&T's abysmal ratings, only 8% of its customers plan to switch providers. That number is nearly identical to Verizon's 7%, and considerably lower than Sprint's 10% and T-Mobile's 14%.


According to the survey, "AT&T's low churn rate . . . is attributable to the huge advantage it continues to maintain as the exclusive U.S. service provider for the Apple iPhone."


Whether AT&T will be able to maintain its customer base in the long term is an open question. The network still boasts the fastest 3G network, according to a Gizmodo study, although T-Mobile is making gains in that area. More importantly, the carrier's exclusivity agreement with Apple is slated to end in 2012, meaning that other wireless companies will potentially be able to offer the iPhone on their own networks.


The ChangeWave survey suggests this will be a vulnerability for AT&T. In addition to the company's current status as the only iPhone provider, the survey found an "unprecedented level of pent-up demand for the iPhone among Verizon subscribers." Fifty-three percent of Verizon users said they would buy a Verizon iPhone, with 19% describing themselves as "very likely" to do so.


"If Verizon were ever to offer the iPhone, the evidence points to it having a profound and likely transformational impact on the industry," the survey said.


In the meantime, frustrated iPhone users can let off some steam at WorstPhoneEver. While sharing cell phone data raises obvious privacy concerns, Forsyth and Albritton say that "there is no personal or uniquely identifying information in the files," although they do warn that "whatever data you give us is no longer entirely 'yours' anymore."


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