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Innovation

Can a black eye from Consumer Reports harm AT&T, iPhone?

Consumer Reports gives AT&T a poor ranking - but will it have an impact on sales of Apple's iPhone?
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive on

The blogosphere lit up yesterday when news of Consumer Reports' cell phone satisfaction survey hit the Internet and AT&T - and, indirectly, Apple - received the blackest of black eyes by the magazine.

It wasn't enough that Consumer Reports ranked AT&T dead last with an overall ranking of "poor" for service but it also noted that "if you're readying to buy Apple's iPhone, prepare for possible disappointment with its service." The real kicker comes a bit later in the section: "On the fence about an iPhone? Our smart phone Ratings recommend a number of fine alternatives."

Ouch.

Yes, the magazine notes that the iPhone's popularity is off the charts and that customers love it enough to hold on to it, despite the poor service quality. And, in a response to All Things Digital's Digital Daily blog, the company points to its low churn rate as "the surest indication of customer satisfaction."

OK, that's all fine and dandy for AT&T. But if you're Steve Jobs and Apple, I can't imagine that you're happy about Consumer Reports suggesting that folks on the fence about the iPhone are better off choosing from "a number of fine alternatives."

Now that I'm really becoming attached to a Motorola Droid, it's getting easier for me to say that I don't care which carrier lands the iPhone next. I had been holding out for an iPhone on Verizon next year, but there are no guarantees that that will happen. Now, an analyst is suggesting that T-Mobile is more likely than Verizon to be the iPhone's No. 2 carrier in the U.S.

That's even more reason for me - and many others like me, I'm sure - to stick with the better network and buy "one of those fine alternatives." I did it - and, while I still have a bit of iPhone envy, my experience with Droid is taking away a lot of that. It looks like AT&T's poor service is costing Apple some customers.

Now that Consumer Reports has given the equivalent of a thumbs-down to AT&T, I wonder if the service problems will cost Apple even more customers.

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