Verizon establishes early lead in iPhone customer complaints

A week before it hits shelves, customers are already mad

Verizon is showing by how much it leads the market for wireless computing by attracting iPhone customer complaints a full week before it even begins selling its version of the previously AT&T exclusive.

Verizon admitted today that some customers ran into problems yesterday trying to pre-order the phone, which is scheduled for release Feb. 9 and could sell as many as 13 million units, analysts have predicted .

AT&T customers, who complain regularly about service and their treatment by both Apple and AT&T, also ran into trouble when the iPhone4 was released June 24. Pre-orders sucked up all the phones available, leaving AT&T's own stores with few if any, of the pretty little things to sell.

iPhone 4 pre-orders were 10 times higher on the first day they were available than the first day the iPhone 3GS pre-orders were available, an AT&T spokesman said at the time.

Verizon is working on its (notoriously slow and clunky) phone-ordering web site to make sure it stays online, and so far has not run into any inventory problems with the iPhone, a spokesperson told Reuters.

The real risk with adding hosts of data-hungry iPhone users to a cell network is the very good chance they'll eat up all the available bandwidth, overwhelm cells with particularly heavy concentrations of them and begin to suck all the energy out of even a broadband wireless network, as I wrote a while ago, along with any number of analysts, and anyone who's ever thought about it for a second or paid any attention to AT&T's struggle with supporting iPhones have said.

Not to get caught short(er), AT&T is widening its exposure on the iPhone by offering customers the chance to turn their iPhones into WiFi hotspots, with a 2GB/month data allowance, for $20 per month.

It unveiled the program for Android phones yesterday and promises to bring it to the iPhone, though no promises on when.

Still, you've got to give Verizon credit for getting out ahead of the market on the customer-complaints thing.

Even AT&T didn't start getting complaints about the iPhone before it started selling its first one, though they haven't stopped complaining for a second since.

I'm confident Verizon will be able to keep up, though, once its customers really get a chance to see what a bunch of iPhones can do to Verizon's "best network."

Can you hear me now? How about now? Let me move my finger.

Now? What?


Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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