Why I’m sticking with AT&T when Verizon releases the iPhone

With Verizon expected to announce an official launch of the iPhone tomorrow, analysts are prediction that 9-12 million Verizon iPhones will be sold in 2011.  The actual number of AT&T escapees is expected to be limited, however, by AT&T’s high early-termination fees and efforts to keep most users in two-year contracts. 

Both my contract and my wife’s will expire in the next month or two, but I have no plans to jump ship.  Yes, AT&T’s network has had issues, and we certainly have experienced dropped calls and dead zones at times, but this isn’t enough to send me back to Verizon.

While Verizon always receives top marks for their network, they have a track record of lagging the market in phone models.  We were once Verizon customers, and while I wanted to upgrade my phone, Verizon was consistently always a generation behind.  Who wants to spend money upgrading to the previous generation of technology?  It’s like paying top dollar for last year’s car models.

My first smart phone was the very popular Palm Treo 650, which I purchased in 2005.  It had a full qwerty-keyboard, a color display, and could run the full gamut of Palm applications.  I loved it.  I had my phone, contacts, and calendar all integrated into one device, and I could install games, audio books, music and other apps to entertain myself in line, the car, wherever.

In 2007, I was eligible for an upgrade, and I was following advances in Palm technology to see what I might get.  Verizon had rolled out the Treo 700, which provided high speed data capabilities to the phone, but this held little value for me.  At the time, I didn’t email on the go and used it as a pocket computer.  What really caught my eye was the recently announced Treo 755, which had a more stylish look without the stubby antenna. 

It was already released on the Sprint network, and I just waiting Verizon to launch it.  And I waited… and waited… and waited.  Verizon continued to chug along with the Palm 700 as its most advanced Palm offering.

Then, Palm made another leap – the Palm Centro.  All the same functionality, but in a smaller, more compact package.  Now that was an upgrade worth waiting for!  Perhaps the reason that Verizon was dragging its heels was because they were looking to skip the 755 altogether and go straight to the new model.

Soon after, Verizon did announce a new Palm smart phone being added to their lineup.  The 755.  Alas, if I was going to upgrade, it was going to be to the previous generation of phone.

While I was waiting for Verizon to launch a new Palm, AT&T rolled out the iPhone.  I sat there watching as the technology shifted in a while new direction, and Verizon was just sitting on the sidelines.  My contract had long since expired, and in the end, I decided to jump ship and get on the iPhone bandwagon.  I’ve never regretted it.

Verizon seems poised to continue the same behind-the-times course with the iPhone.  While nothing is certain, the consensus is that they are going to be releasing an iPhone 4 with a CDMA chip that will function on their network.  While that will bring them up to the latest technology, Apple is widely expected to announce the iPhone 5 in six months.  Will Verizon launch the iPhone 5 at the same time, or will there be a waiting game?  It seems a little unlikely to me that they are going to roll out a special, just for Verizon CDMA iPhone and then make it obsolete six months later.  Based on my experience with Verizon and the Palm platform, I’m guessing that the latest iPhones will always come out on AT&T’s network, and Verizon will launch them six months later.

That, and the fact that Verizon’s network isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (here in my office, AT&T gets better reception), mean that I am going to stick with AT&T.

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