updated 12:50 pm EST, Thu January 13, 2011
ChangeWave has 6th of ATT users going to VZ iPhone
AT&T could see a large portion of its smartphone subscriber base jump ship for the Verizon iPhone next month, a study found on Thursday. Of those asked by ChangeWave, 15 percent of AT&T subscribers said in December they were likely to change carriers in the next three months. While not an indicator in itself, it mapped almost exactly to the 16 percent of customers who said at the time that they would switch if Verizon had the iPhone.
Among just iPhone owners, 26 percent were planning to leave AT&T. ChangeWave didn't break down the results by region, but New York City, San Francisco and a few other major cities have often had near-unusable 3G from AT&T since the iPhone spiked 3G adoption in 2008.
The overall figure was possibly a reflection of anticipation as well. The plans to drop AT&T jumped from a still high 10 percent in September. Among those likely to go, 42 percent blamed it on AT&T's most frequently cited problems of poor reception and coverage, while another 27 pinned it on frequent dropped calls. Only 17 percent thought the cost was too high, a factor that has usually been counted on by Sprint and T-Mobile to draw customers.
Reflecting this, an equal percentage of T-Mobile subscribers wanted out of their own carriers. A much smaller 10 percent wanted away from Sprint, but the CDMA iPhone's recipient, Verizon, had the most loyal customers at just four percent thinking of leaving.
AT&T's attempts to improve its network may have prevented the situation from worsening further. After years of increasing dropped call rates, it saw a sudden drop to 4.7 percent in December, putting it back at March 2010 levels. Nonetheless, the rate was still three times higher than at Verizon, where the rate was near an all-time low at 1.7 percent.
The results point both to pent-up demand among iPhone owners but also that some of AT&T's non-iPhone subscriber base only considered Apple's device worthwhile once it was on a more reliable network. Verizon has long had a reputation for loyalty to the network regardless of platform; its low predicted turnover as a result could lead to any existing or swtiching customers who get the iPhone being more loyal than at AT&T, where the iPhone activation rate has been up to twice as high as its actual net subscriber addition rates.