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Apparently, the lack of service features such as tethering and MMS, one long a staple of other wireless carriers isn't AT&T's fault. Likewise, AT&T's inadequate bandwidth issues are also someone else's fault.
Whose fault are all these shortcomings? Well, if you believe Bernstein Research's analyst Craig Moffett, the blame lies with Apple and the iPhone. Apparently, the product Apple offers is just too good and iPhone users are so loyal to Cupertino that they'd switch carriers if it were an option. This has tilted the balance of power from the wireless carrier to the handset provider.
"Apple has stolen the march, and in the process has recast AT&T from hero to villain," Moffett claims, overlooking the fact that most of AT&T's reputation issues stems from its own missteps and the quality of its service offerings rather than any active sandbagging of the company by Apple.
Take just the example of MMS. This was a service available years ago on many lower tech cell phones including many pay-as-you-go models you could purchase off the rack at Wal-Mart. The incredibly powerful iPhone may -- may -- see this service "in late summer." Yet somehow Moffet sees audience members booing each mention of the phone company at Apple's June developer conference as proof of Apple "wrecking the wireless business."
Any problems the wireless carrier experiences can be laid squarely at its own doorstep through lack of planning, failure to allocate sufficient resources, and unwillingness to determine what features users most want to see them offer. One needn't go casting about for villains where simple incompetence suffices.
While Apple and AT&T continue their exclusivity arrangement and users dissatisfied with the telcom's services continue to jailbreak their iPhones, Congress might have a word to say on the matter soon enough. One can only imagine what effect an iPhone owner as a free agent might have on the cell phone industry.