The tipping point: iPhone users turn against AT&T

The iPhone crowd has turned into an anti-AT&T mob. Spend 30 seconds on Twitter or perform even the most basic search for iPhone and AT&T information and you're sure to run into some serious rancor from disgusted iPhone users across the country. While the exclusive partnership between Cupertino and the Dallas teleco has never been perfect, user hostility has lately been at a fevered pitch.

In February of this year, prominent blogger Om Malik announced he was "breaking up" with his iPhone. "I love my iPhone -- but AT&T's network has failed me. Apparently I'm not alone. If you follow me on Twitter, then you know how often I complain about it; my complaints always result in me receiving similar messages of frustration from other iPhone users. A status update on my Facebook page on the topic unleashed a flood of messages from people expressing abhorrence of AT&T's service."

The severe downturn in users' feelings towards Apple's carrier of choice appears to have begun with the debut of the iPhone 3G S in June. The device launched without its promised MMS and tethering features because of issues with AT&T, and now a weeks-long failure of the iPhone's visual voicemail system, publicized by a scathing TechCrunch article, may have brought the matter to a turning point. The dogs have been unleashed.

"The iPhone is an incredible piece of hardware unacceptably shackled to and hamstrung by the broken pile of s*** that is AT&T's so-called service,"
one user wrote after learning of the visual voicemail outage.

In addition to the thousands of tweets in the hashtags #ATTSUCKS, and #ATTFAIL searching Twitter with "AT&T NYC" reveals the special flavor of hatred New Yorkers bear against AT&T.

And it's not limited to Twitter, either. Where AT&T turns up in social media, so too will angry New Yorkers. On the company's YouTube page, a user wrote, "I live in NYC and I left Verizon for the iPhone 3G last year, and I get an amazing phone with horrible service. I have to turn my 3G off in order to make a call, if I don't I get nonstop dropped calls or "call failed"...but I have more bars in more places, I guess having more bars doesn't really measure reception! And don't even get me started with no MMS (love the vague "late summer" answer) If Verizon does get the iPhone in 2010 I will be jumping ship so fast!!"

It seems like the Mid-Atlantic, AT&T's densest patch of 3G coverage outside of California, is where users are complaining the most. And the major complaint is one that has been common to the iPhone all along: that AT&T is simply not Verizon.

AT&T's reliability in New York is reputed to be so bad that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has "repeatedly" called AT&T President and CEO Randall Stephenson to complain, and also discussed the problem with his "old friend," Verizon Wireless President and CEO Lowell McAdam.

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