About 20 percent of mobile phone users said the antenna problem on the iPhone 4 caused them not to buy one. But more than 60 percent said it was because of Apple's exclusive carrier contract with AT&T--and that they couldn't use carrier Verizon Wireless--that they didn't want the handset.
The poll was conducted with 258 cell phone users in downtown Minneapolis by analyst firm Piper Jaffray, which concluded that while the faulty antenna hurt sales, its relationship with AT&T limited demand the most. The iPhone is expected to reach Verizon next year, and rumors of the new carrier have already caused excitement.
Does a carrier make that much of a difference for sales of a smartphone?
PC World staff found that out of four AT&T phones, the iPhone 4 had the most dropped calls and worst voice call reception. It wasn’t all AT&T’s fault, but partly due to the antenna, and maybe also a lack of resources by AT&T. The experiment took place in San Francisco and Los Angeles, both cities heavily saturated with cell towers and other resources, which led to the conclusion that reception could be hit and miss in more rural areas.
Many of those polled by Piper Jaffray in Minneapolis were Blackberry users. While RIM still dominates the mobile phone market in business, it’s quickly losing ground to the iPhone and iPad, which makes up 29 percent of devices supported in business today. (In contrast, Android devices only make up about 13 percent.)
The Piper Jaffray study is much more interesting, because it shows that demand for a device, no matter how much hype or advertising, will supersede the desire by the majority for quality reception and a quality experience.
While many businesses have waited a few years to invest in iPhones, many more may be waiting until next year when they won’t be locked into AT&T, a carrier they don’t equate with good reception. Only then will anyone really know how good iPhone reception really is, and company owners can make an informed decision on the device without the fanboy hype.
Reach or follow Barbara E. Hernandez on Twitter at @bhern.