Hey, who unplugged AT&T’s data network, what’s the impact to the iPhone?


Apple_iphone_adsFull disclosure: this is not a knock against the iPhone. Yes, it is an amazing device, so don’t roast me without reading to the end. ;)

Having said that: I was wondering how useful the iPhone is when you don’t have WiFi or EDGE and was going to write a post on it over the weekend. Sure you can view or listen to your stored media, take notes, edit contacts, etc….but since the iPhone platform is relegated to Safari-based apps for third-parties, what happens when you don’t have connectivity? I decided against writing the post because I felt that the situation of zero connectivity was very rare, say on an airplane or something. Today’s events changed my mind and cause me to ask the question again. And not just for the iPhone, I’m really talking about any Internet-based platform. In case you missed it, AT&T appears to have experienced a nationwide EDGE outage today.

We’ve chatted about it before here, talking about how we personally arecautious to totally used web-based services. The chances of a fullGoogle outage are slim but even though I use Google Reader for my RSSfeeds, I do have a backup and I’ve also kept up with using GoogleGears. My T-Mobile EDGE was fine all day but even if it wasn’t, I’ve gotplenty of third party Windows Mobile apps installed to get me throughmy day. No doubt that connectivity is ‘king’, but even with a networkoutage, I can still use 95% of the device functions. Perhaps that willbe the case with some of the Safari based apps; maybe they won’t bereliant upon network connectivity and can stand alone.

What are yourthoughts? Even though the circumstances are unlikely, are you ready tocompletely have faith in a device or service that uses aweb-based method as it’s base platform?



I think yesterday’s iPhone data network outage on the US West Coast demonstrated that the data infrastructure in this country is still not as reliable as the power infrastructure. You walk into a room and flip the light switch you are very surprised if the lights don’t turn on. If your internet connection (cable, DSL, EDGE …) doesn’t work: you are pissed but not surprised.

I do recall how functional the Blackberry’s were a few months ago when their data network went down Nation Wide. EMT crews were taking print outs of emails with them to calls of Blackberry users lying on the ground quivering to help ease the sudden email withdrawal symptoms.

Most installed Blackberry applications are also useless when the network goes down as they reach out for data they can’t get. It doesn’t matter if Google Maps is installed or not if you can’t get to the Google Maps server. Weather, Stocks, Traffic Monitor you name it, most of these applications require internet access to be useful.


Unless something changes, Apple announced all third party support will be via widget like things. Most of these need the web. Widgets are the way they are going. There’s NOT going to be a SDK. Apple won’t let them install things. If it’s anything like the iPod and remember it IS an iPod, they won’t allow third party stuff on it either.


Hmmm. 95% of what I do with my laptop or Treo these days probably requires network connectivity, whether it’s reading email, surfing the web, checking my centrally stored calendar, working (vpn’ed into the work network), … Sure, I could read old stale word documents or play pinball, but really these days a network connection is essential to what I do. Fortunately they are rare.


James, I think you’re right on the money. A couple hundred thousand enthusiastic EDGE users got added to the network and AT&T got caught with their pants down. Steve Jobs must be fuming.


“With great power come with great responsibility.”

Now for iPHONE

“With great anticipation and reception come with great criticism.” Very logical :)


Then all they will need is a patch to run unsigned apps on the iPhone. Let’s give it a few months so that Apple can sort out all matters before we really dig into the iPhone. It’s a great starting point and much better than HP’s phantom Jornada series or Toshiba’s Thera.

I think Apple did a reasonably good job with their debut into the “smart”-phone market eventhough, they’ve “dumbed” theirs down a bit, for now.

As for opening up OS X on the iPhone, I am hoping to see some nice ones that are signed by Apple that are vulnerable to exploits ala PSP afterwards. Let’s hope for a good future, it only helps those in the market for a new mobile whether it be with Apple, Symbian, or Windows Mobile. Competition is so nice!


Apple will be releasing an SDK in the near future that will allow 3rd Party Apps to be created for the iPhone, but will have to be signed by apple before being installed…

Thomas Brock

I’ve got a Treo 750 on Cingu…AT&T’s Edge network (Eastern NC has no 3G) and didn’t notice any outages.

Even if there were outages, I have enough offline substitutes to make it through the day.

Jason Johnson

They overloaded but the upside is that now they will be even more motivated to upgrade. Not that it matters here in the southeast the edge is pretty rock solid. Not much 3g though.


I have said it to a few people….you MUST have some ability to install apps. AJAX widgets are only acceptable if it’s something that RELIES on the connection. Games shouldn’t rely on this.

T Man

This totally invalidates Steve Jobs argument that iPhone widgets not made by Apple will shut down the entire West coast network. It turns out, that just normally happens on AT&T. ;)

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