In the restaurant business, there's saying regarding the three most important keys to success: "location, location, and location." As evidenced by today's post from Doc Searls, the corollary to this when buying cell phones (as I have often said) is coverage, coverage, coverage. Writes Doc:
So after going to all that trouble to buy this new Treo 700p and getting it working with Verizon and EVDO so I could connect to the Net from here in Oak Island, NC, it turns out that Verizon has approximately no signal where one wants to be: in a house along the beachfront. In spite of what its coverage map says. This map too.
Fortunately, Doc doesn't spend most of his time at this place in North Carolina. But his experience clearly illustrates two points that I keep making when talking about cell phone and smartphone purchases. First, it doesn't matter how cool and functional that new phone is. If it can't reliably get a connection to its network from where ever you spend most of your time, than those features will be of little or no use to you. Second, doen't trust the coverage maps. Borrow your friends' phones and take them to the places you spend most of your time in.
The chances are very good that, amongst the people you know, you can find someone with a phone that's provisioned by each of the major carriers: Verizon Wireless, Sprint, Cingular and T-Mobile. Borrow their phones (I'm sure they'll let you.. I've never had anyone say no). Take the phones deep inside your house. Take them on your commute. Take them to the grocery stores or shopping warehouses where you do most of your shopping. Then, once you've identified the carrier that has the best coverage given where you go, pick from the list of handsets it offers.
Also, I have my first round of testing results for the Motorola Q and am fact checking them now. Stay tuned for my findings. Hint: it's a step in the right direction but leaves much to be desired. If my fact checking checks out, this is not a phone that I would have let out of the labs. But maybe my fact checking won't check out. Stay tuned.