Brand Bleed-through

A confession first ... I came late to the Apple brand and I fell hard. I love the design, and the products always work beyond my expectations! I have one iPod for running, one for biking, and a waterproof one for swimming! I didn't feel the need to stand in line for the iPhone on Friday, but I had one in my hands early Saturday nonetheless. It is as beautiful a design as I have come to expect from Cupertino.

Then things when south. My experience with AT&T/Cingular has not enamored me to their brand. The simple iTunes activation was just that—until we got to the AT&T part. Disaster. My pre-approved credit authorization at the store wasn't accepted online. I called the help line. Long wait only to be informed that I had to return to the store. (Seems the long wait had to do with them being overwhelmed with the volume of customers ... don't they read the business press? DUH.) People at the store told me to call AT&T support. I asked to speak with a supervisor at AT&T help desk. She had several calls in the cue for her. (Big surprise.) I hung up. The store tech called back with a workaround, but I would have to sign up with a Tennessee phone number (where I bought the phone) and I live in Michigan. No thanks. Eventually I just ignored all the pre-authorization work I had done at the store and started fresh with the activation. It worked. Final glitch: The AT&T/Cingular service map clearly showed I was in their service area. Well, my front room is, but the kitchen apparently isn't (I have a small house!). Signal strength is terrible. Enough bitching.

Here is the issue to me. By entering an insane agreement with AT&T as the sole carrier for the iPhone, the Apple brand is intimately connected to them. I believe after the early adopters, sales will fall if AT&T doesn't get their act together. I am greatly surprised at Apple, as I have found they are really careful not to release products before their time. I would have thought they would have made sure AT&T was ready. So now I will sum it up this way ... great iPod, lousy phone service.