Well, What Do You Know: That Horrific iPhone Performance On AT&T Was Partially Apple's Fault

steve jobs apple iPhone

Finally some reprieve for AT&T, which has taken a lot of heat for its crappy iPhone wireless service in many cities. It looks like Apple is at least partially to blame for the problems with AT&T’s network.

This has long been suspected, but this is the first time we’ve seen AT&T speak publicly about Apple’s relative inexperience in building mobile phones, which has likely led to some deficiencies.

Buried in a WSJ article about AT&T’s network struggles:

  • That AT&T executives traveled to Apple last year to assure Steve Jobs that they were “working on the problems,” and “to provide Apple designers with a crash course in wireless networking.”
  • Apple “even helped with new technologies to limit the load that iPhones put on the network,” the WSJ’s Niraj Sheth writes.
  • Specifically, the WSJ says, “Apple rejiggered how its phones communicate with AT&T’s towers. As a result, the phones now put less of a load on the network for such simple tasks as finding the closest tower or checking for available text messages.”

Translation: Apple made changes to fix some of the problems that the iPhone was causing for AT&T’s network, which was resulting in crappy service.

In the nicest way possible, AT&T even ribbed Apple for its previous inexperience. “They’re well past networking 101, 201 or 301,” AT&T CTO John Donovan told the WSJ. Apple is now “in a Master’s class,” he said.

Translation: Apple didn’t know what it was doing before. Now it does.

The story comes as Apple is reportedly working on an iPhone with AT&T’s archrival, Verizon Wireless, the biggest U.S. mobile phone carrier. Verizon’s network is thought to be superior, and many iPhone customers have vowed to ditch AT&T for Verizon if this phone becomes available.

Moreover, many loyal Verizon subscribers have avoided the iPhone — and bought Verizon phones like Motorola’s Droid, or RIM’s BlackBerry Storm, instead. So while Apple has a lot to gain by selling the iPhone through Verizon, AT&T also has a lot to lose.

That’s why it’s so important for AT&T to get the word out that it’s trying to fix its network — even if it means tweaking Apple a little.

Don’t miss: 15 features Apple must build into iPhone OS 4 →

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