Report: Apple’s Relationship With AT&T Even Worse Than We Thought

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Image via AppAdvice

The new issue of Wired, featuring a futuristic Will Ferrell on the cover, includes an absolutely devastating take on the long, troubled partnership of Apple and AT&T by Fred Vogelstein. Things really couldn’t be worse. Just picture Steve Jobs at his most furious, then make him work on a near-daily basis with a company that can’t pull off basic stuff (even if some of it might be Apple’s fault). Then imagine that they ask him to wear a suit to meetings.

Apple and AT&T have bickered about how the iPhone was to be displayed in AT&T’s stores: Apple insisted the phone be presented on its own display stand, away from other models. They have even fought about wardrobe: When an AT&T representative suggested to one of Jobs’ deputies that the Apple CEO wear a suit to meet with AT&T’s board of directors, he was told, “We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits.”

Ouch! Other revelations include the fact that Apple has long thought about leaping to Verizon (duh), and that Scott Forstall even led a team down to Qualcomm to discuss creating a CDMA iPhone as early as 2007 because AT&T demanded that Apple make YouTube WiFi-only, use low-resolution video, or limit clips to one minute. Basically, Apple has spent every day of the last three years wishing that it had a company as ambitious as itself running its network, while also being keenly aware of what a bad business proposition that would be.

In all honesty, the story is one of the best I’ve read for really considering the business complexities of the emerging connected lifestyle. The carriers all want people to use the most popular devices, but the devicemakers want more bandwidth at a lower price than any carrier is ready for. The death of the unlimited data plan might well clear the hurdles that have made AT&T act so awful when it comes to allowing new iPhone features beyond the initial set, but it’s early days yet.

This much is clear: the dreadful 3G infrastructure in the U.S. is in no way equipped to handle the rise of the App Phone, and it will be a painful several years before 4G makes up for it. But it’s always this way: computers that were powerful enough for the web were out a long time before broadband was available in the home, and now cable modem speeds are plenty fast for most users, and chokepoints have evaporated. Let’s just hope we’re only a few years away from a similar breakthrough in mobile.

Via Fast Company