iPhone Owners Suffer Stockholm Syndrome, AT&T is Actually Awesome (Just Don’t Mention Friday’s Outages)


It’s hard to know where to begin. The weekend has seen a series of events unfold that manage to combine — beautifully, perfectly — into a single glorious mutually-annihilating maelstrom of silliness.

On Friday the Wall Street Journal published an inflammatory piece by Randall Stross which began “I love my iPhone…” but barely a half dozen sentences (and some obligatory ‘AT&T versus Verizon’ white noise later) added “…the iPhone itself may not be so great after all.”

I’ll spare you the tumultuous (and largely inane) nonsense that follows, and just give you the bottom line; Stross thinks the iPhone is a flawed device; that Apple has mass-produced shoddy hardware; and that the iPhone’s poorly engineered internals lie at the heart of AT&T’s network problems.

In an example of utterly brilliant (but coincidental) timing, AT&T’s network in San Francisco’s Bay area ground to an awkward halt the very same day Stross’ article appeared on the WSJ website. AT&T acknolwedged the problem with a statement via Engadget’s website:

“We are seeing a hardware issue in downtown San Francisco that is causing some degradation in service. GSM and EDGE voice and data services are still accessible. Our experts are aware and working to resolve as quickly as possible. Further resolution is expected this evening.”

Perfect timing, right? And perhaps proof that Stross is right? Just ignore for a moment that his primary “source” is financially affiliated with AT&T. I’d love to rant some more about the whole stupid situation but I don’t need to, since I can offer you this perfect conclusion from John Gruber:

So on the one hand we have the simple theory that AT&T’s network stinks, especially in large metro areas, and extra-especially in New York City and San Francisco.

On the other hand, we have the theory that AT&T’s network is just fine because two network consulting companies say so, even though a Consumer Reports customer survey says otherwise, and it is the iPhone that is flawed, but the flaws are for some reason worse on AT&T than other carriers around the world, and just happen to be worse still in some cities than others, and Apple has been unwilling and/or unable to address these flaws in three model years.

Gruber debunks Stross’ claims with a few easy and, it appears, perfectly rational observations. But you can’t trust Gruber. And if you’re an iPhone owner, you can’t trust yourself, either. That’s because, according to a report from Strand Consulting (no, you’re not alone, no-one else has heard of them, either) we’re all delusional, suffering from a condition akin to Stockholm Syndrome. 9to5 Mac summarizes the most salient points from Strand’s report entitled “How will psychologists describe the iPhone syndrome in the future?”:

It is no secret that there has been a great deal of hype surrounding the iPhone and it is also no secret that Apple probably has the most loyal and fantastic customers in the world.

Apple has launched a beautiful phone with a fantastic user interface that has had a number of technological shortcomings that many iPhone users have accepted and defended, despite those shortcomings resulting in limitations in iPhone users’ daily lives.

When we examine the iPhone users’ arguments defending the iPhone, it reminds us of the famous Stockholm Syndrome – a term that was invented by psychologists after a hostage drama in Stockholm. Here hostages reacted to the psychological pressure they were experiencing, by defending the people that had held them hostage for 6 days…

…the iPhone is surrounded by a multitude of people, media and companies that are happy to bend the truth to defend the product they have purchased from Apple.

So there you have it. The take-home message from this weekend’s press is that, broadly speaking, the iPhone is a poorly-designed piece of junk that simultaneously inspires mindless fanaticism in its fans while callously destroying poor old AT&T’s data network infrastructure. That embarrassing outage in San Francisco on Friday? Nothing to do with AT&T. All your fault, you pesky iPhone fanatics, gobbling up all that precious bandwidth. Shame on you.

The good news for AT&T is that they’re still liked by some people — Business Traveller Magazine’s readers have voted AT&T the operator with the Best Mobile Phone Coverage in the World. Naturally, AT&T is keen to milk any positive coverage it gets (which isn’t in great supply these days). Bill Hague, the company’s vice president of International Mobility and Consumer Markets, said in a statement:

We are truly honored that Business Traveler readers have once again chosen AT&T as having the Best Mobile Phone Coverage in the World. AT&T is committed to helping our customers stay connected to their world when traveling abroad.

Shame it’s not quite as committed to keeping its customers connected when they’re at home, too. That statement was released the very same day San Francisco’s iPhone customers lost SMS and Data services. Really, you can’t make this stuff up. There is a silver lining — Fake Steve has already had a chat with the Powers That Be. Let’s hope they listen…

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