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Hey, AT&T, What's the Value of a Closed Network Again?

Closed networks, its proponents maintain, offer a trade-off. Individuals or outside developers can’t make any changes or improvements to it. But since the network and its applications are controlled at a single source, individuals are supposed to get an easier experience in which they don’t have to think about the network, just what they’re doing on it. Trust the network.

I was thinking about that earlier today when I tried to check my AT&T balance on my locked-into-AT&T iPhone. The built-in “AT&T MyAccount” link deposited me on a web page that could not recognize my phone or my account. That’s right: I was using an AT&T software service on an AT&T network and it couldn’t identify my device. Even when my phone’s entire interaction was on an AT&T network and software, the company was unable to perform the most basic customer service: recognize me. Tell me again what the benefits of a closed network are?

Even our-closed-is-beautiful poster child Apple is starting to move (albeit kicking and screaming) toward a more open iPhone software platform, in the hope that the ensuing innovation will grow its market. Are the mobile networks such as AT&T capable of doing the same?

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  • kfedup

    dump att, go virgin, mobile that is… :-)

  • http://www.advicenetwork.com/blog Advice Network

    Companies that are too big often have this schizophrenic personality. In reality, each devision is it’s own little (or not so little) company. The guys doing the website don’t know the iPhone team, don’t own an iPhone, have never seen an iPhone, and wouldn’t know one of the iPhone guys if he sat down on their laps.

  • http://weblogs.macromedia.com/jd John Dowdell

    heh… are you saying that you couldn’t view your AT&T account online in the iPhone? Do you know if others have had the same experience?

  • pp

    Are you saying this ironically, or have you been duped into unreasonable expectations?
    People that will violate your constitutional rights by spying on you probably don’t care a whit for customer service.

  • http://www.xentek.net/ Eric Marden

    I’m not impressed with the AT&T network at all, and I don’t even own an iPhone (I’m a BB fan, for now). However, I left Sprint because their support was horrible. But I sure do miss their network. With out plans to get an iPhone, I’ve been thinking of switching back.