Study shows steady decline in AT&T brand perception

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Since the launch of the iPhone 3GS, public perception of AT&T has progressively decreased, while opinions about competitor Verizon Wireless remained relatively unchanged, a new study shows.



In a daily survey of 5,000 people 18 and older, YouGov's BrandIndex tracks companies based on factors of quality, value, satisfaction, recommendation, reputation and impression. When combining those categories, AT&T's index score of 18.3 on June 16 had eroded to a 14.6 on Thursday -- a change company senior vice president Ted Marzilli told AppleInsider is "statistically significant."



He said the survey could indicate that some people may pause before they buy an iPhone because they don't want to be locked into an AT&T contract. Though he believes the contract between AT&T and Apple has likely been beneficial to both parties for the last two years, the timing of AT&T's public perception decline suggests the issue can be traced to the launch of the iPhone 3GS -- or, more specifically, the network's inability to meet the bandwidth needs of users with the device.



"It may be hindering iPhone adoption at this point," Marzilli said, "and I think Apple is going to take a hard look at what they will do next."



AT&T has always been perceived as an inferior brand to Verizon Wireless in the index rankings. However, it was in mid-June that the gap between the two companies began to widen. Though AT&T's 14.6 score in overall feedback remains relatively positive, it still lags behind well behind Verizon in consumer perception. In the last three months, AT&T's biggest hits came in the quality and recommendation rankings.



"AT&T can come out with its initiatves and its announcements, but the problem is people on the Web are starting to blog about their problems with the AT&T network," Marzilli said. "It's a bit of a snowball effect."



While the study found AT&T's score to consistently drop over the last three months, Verizon has stayed much the same as it was in January. Its Sept. 10 score was 21.2. Scores can range from 100 to -100. A score of zero would mean equal positive and negative feedback.



The BrandIndex rankings sample a representative portion of the U.S. population. The company said it conducts more than 1.2 million interviews per year from an online panel of more than one million individuals. The company said its survey's margin of error is +/- 2 percent.







AT&T has had its share of troubles with the iPhone's bandwidth use on its network, going as far in recent weeks as to publicly admit its own shortcomings. With the exclusive contract between AT&T and Apple for the iPhone set to expire in 2010, some have speculated that the device will become available on other carriers. However, others believe it would be beneficial for the handset maker to extend its current contract.



In recent weeks, AT&T has begun its own aggressive public relations campaign to combat bad press and Internet buzz that has plagued the wireless carrier since the launch of the iPhone 3GS this summer. The company also announced improved coverage in the Tri-State Region and revealed plans to build nearly 1,900 new cell towers in the U.S. this year. The company plans to invest more than $17 billion this year to enhance its wired and wireless networks.



Because BrandIndex checks daily, Marzilli said AT&T's recent efforts might show up in rankings in the next few weeks. Whether public relations alone, though, can overcome AT&T's network troubles remains to be seen.



"The real issue for AT&T is how quickly can they alleviate the problem," he said. "It's interesting news that they're investing billions of dollars, but what does that mean for me as an AT&T customer over the next month, three months, six months?"
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 65
    Gee, I wonder if it has anything to do with me having to make 56 attempts (literally) in a row last night before my call went through?! Over 50% of my calls have one problem or another. I would think that I was in the middle of nowhere instead of downtown Manhattan...
  • Reply 2 of 65
    Very happy here in Houston with our new 850 Mhz spectrum and will be even happier when we get our 7.2 speeds. Well of course we will never get that fast, but it will certainly be faster than what is around now. For all those that leave AT&T when a competitor sells the iPhone, adios. The less there are of you, the more bandwidth for those that remain. And if you think you're going to get a better price at Verizon, good luck. They charge the same data rate, same voice rates, same messaging rates and they even charge 3 bucks more for visual voicemail on any qualifying smartphone plan. Oh well.
  • Reply 3 of 65
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Public opinion is not usually based on anything rational. A bunch of bloggers who are very vocal in their complaints can actually skew the public perception. I have average people tell me "Oh I heard the iPhone is not very good because of this or that they heard somewhere..." when actually they know nothing about it, but they have formed an opinion.



    The whiners are for the most part pissed about the $100 a month charge. If it were half that price we wouldn't be hearing any complaints at all. It's all about the perceived value not the network. The network complaint is just a smoke screen for the real reason. They love the iPhone, hate the monthly fee.



    All carriers have dropped calls and dead zones. I had Verizon before I got the iPhone and it did have better signal compared to AT&T at that time but AT&T is much better now that 3G has been implemented.
  • Reply 4 of 65
    "may be" hindering iPhone adoption? In my case, it definitely is.



    I've no love for Verizon, but my coverage and reliability (using a 3 year old RAZR v3c) is great. As much as I like the iPhone's tech, ultimately any phone decision is going to be a function of the device's capabilities as a phone, with everything else coming second. And the phone capabilities are tied very closely with its network.



    I find it interesting how Europeans always talk about how great their GSM phones are (especially when I mention how my CDMA phone doesn't work in Europe) but when they visit here and end up roaming onto the AT&T network, they find that it isn't so great anymore.



    Hopefully, AT&T will manage to expand its capabilities enough to break this problem. But failing that, maybe Apple will decide to release a Verizon-compatible iPhone, although I doubt that will happen before VZW rolls out 4G services (probably not for at least another year.)



    Until then, I'm sticking by a basic phone for calls, and using a plain PDA for everything else. Not ideal, but it's worked for me for many years and will continue to work until something better finally comes along.
  • Reply 5 of 65
    In my opinion, AT&T took advantage of the iPhone users. They knew they didn't have to improve their service because customers were both locked in a 2 year contract with AT&T as well as locked into the love of the iPhone. I left AT&T years ago because of their lousy service but went back to them ONLY because of the iPhone. Now their exclusive contract is about to expire and they're announcing they will spend billions to expand their service. Why didn't you do this 2 years ago AT&T? Oh, that's because you didn't have to. Now you're afraid and you'll spend the money to keep as many customers as possible? Little too late for me. I signed another 2 year contract to get the 3Gs, but I will GLADLY pay the cancelation fee to go to Verizon or Sprint.
  • Reply 6 of 65
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post


    And if you think you're going to get a better price at Verizon, good luck. They charge the same data rate, same voice rates, same messaging rates and they even charge 3 bucks more for visual voicemail on any qualifying smartphone plan. Oh well.



    Plus Verizon just started a ban on relaying email so you can no longer send email from your phone with a reply address of [email protected] they only allow verizon email addresses. Nice. Fortunately we have our imap certificate and can authenticate users with SSL so they can use our smtp from their moblie, but most ISP don't allow that.
  • Reply 7 of 65
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Public opinion is not usually based on anything rational. A bunch of bloggers who are very vocal in their complaints can actually skew the public perception. I have average people tell me "Oh I heard the iPhone is not very good because of this or that they heard somewhere..." when actually they know nothing about it, but they have formed an opinion.



    The whiners are for the most part pissed about the $100 a month charge. If it were half that price we wouldn't be hearing any complaints at all. It's all about the perceived value not the network. The network complaint is just a smoke screen for the real reason. They love the iPhone, hate the monthly fee.



    All carriers have dropped calls and dead zones. I had Verizon before I got the iPhone and it did have better signal compared to AT&T at that time but AT&T is much better now that 3G has been implemented.



    I'm not complaining about the cost, I would simply like my calls to go through, get good reception and not have so many dropped calls. Not only that, just about everyone I call has ATT so I know it's ATT and not another company' problem. This summer, ATT's service in NYC has been especially abysmal, calls, data, voicemail, you name it.



    And to make it clear, I am not a Verizon lover. As a matter of fact when I moved, 3 years ago, I had to switch to ATT because there was no Verizon reception in my new apartment.
  • Reply 8 of 65
    I'll say this about AT&T: They are the only provider that has service in my office building. Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint all can not get a single bar.



    That said, it would benefit someone like me GREATLY to buy their service. The fact that I'll avoid AT&T like the plague should put into perspective what I think of them, and I'm not alone.



    I don't really feel that anyone will ever be truly happy with any service provider, so I went with the most practical one in terms of cost. Sprint's towers around me give me adequate service and data rates, and their pricing is very fair. It's their customer service that I hate.



    When ever someone asks me for my opinion on which carrier they should go with, I always tell them they'd be very happy with Sprint, so long as they never need help from customer service!



    And that is my rant for this week. Good night ladies & gentlemen, and God bless.
  • Reply 9 of 65
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macnyc View Post


    I'm not complaining about the cost, I would simply like my calls to go through, get good reception and not have so many dropped calls. Not only that, just about everyone I call has ATT so I know it's ATT and not another company' problem. This summer, ATT's service in NYC has been especially abysmal, calls, data, voicemail, you name it.



    And to make it clear, I am not a Verizon lover. As a matter of fact when I moved, 3 years ago, I had to switch to ATT because there was no Verizon reception in my new apartment.



    I had one of the very first cell phones in NYC back in 1984 but before that we had mobile radios on a shared channel. At times you'd hear interference from people a thousand miles away. But today, since even the lowest paid people in the country can own a cell phone, everyone seems to have a sense of entitlement. "My calls are very important. The nerve of these phone companies dropping my call'. Get over it. As much as you might think that cell phones should be a complete replacement for having a land line in your home, I don't think that the reliability is there yet.
  • Reply 10 of 65
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,451member
    I have just returned from a 5000 mile drive from Florida to the North East and around many of the mountain ranges and back. We had three iPhones with us, an original, a 3G and a 3Gs. Sadly I have to report the number of places we were unable to get a signal of any kind was staggering on much of the journey.



    It seems unbelievable to me that vast stretches of Interstates in the USA in 2009 have no cell phone coverage by AT&T (I can only speak for them I have no idea if other carriers did have signals where we did not). I can forgive the lack of coverage while hiking although it would be nice in this day and age to think one could phone for help but on an Interstate?



    Personally I would like to see it mandatory for a major carrier to cover all Interstates in order to have a license to do business. There should be some requirement for them to complete coverage on Interstates by a certain date or be fined.
  • Reply 11 of 65
    morkymorky Posts: 193member
    It depends where you are. I was in the countryside of eastern Pennsylvania last weekend, and AT&T was the only service that worked. I used to have issues in my Manhattan/Tribeca office, but no longer, and Brooklyn is rock-solid for me. That 50-attempts-in-Manhattan comment above sounds like a handset problem or a really bad dead spot because I don't have a lot of problems in Manhattan anymore.
  • Reply 12 of 65
    But don't all major carriers in the US suck in some deal-breaking way?
  • Reply 13 of 65
    iPhone on AT&T working swimmingly here in the SF Bay Area. Not many dropped calls, if any, and great download speed. I've been happy since day one and have no desire to switch. At my work place, I've seen the iPhone adapted by many coworkers and probably 1 in about 30 has a grip about AT&T. Just about anybody I talk to who has one loves it and can't consider life before it. It's that much of a game changer.
  • Reply 14 of 65
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,785member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Public opinion is not usually based on anything rational. A bunch of bloggers who are very vocal in their complaints can actually skew the public perception. I have average people tell me "Oh I heard the iPhone is not very good because of this or that they heard somewhere..." when actually they know nothing about it, but they have formed an opinion.



    The whiners are for the most part pissed about the $100 a month charge. If it were half that price we wouldn't be hearing any complaints at all. It's all about the perceived value not the network. The network complaint is just a smoke screen for the real reason. They love the iPhone, hate the monthly fee.



    All carriers have dropped calls and dead zones. I had Verizon before I got the iPhone and it did have better signal compared to AT&T at that time but AT&T is much better now that 3G has been implemented.



    Pardon me, but you have no idea what the fuck you're talking about. My service is horrible. I drop calls almost every day. Signal comes and goes. Tons of dead spots. Is it about price/value....somewhat, yes. But it's really about the network. I'd still be just as pissed if it was $50 a month. It's not bloggers driving me dissatisfaction, that's for damn sure.
  • Reply 15 of 65
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    Personally I would like to see it mandatory for a major carrier to cover all Interstates in order to have a license to do business. There should be some requirement for them to complete coverage on Interstates by a certain date or be fined.



    Alas, your idea makes sense, but the issue with putting cell sites in places like this is usually local governments and citizens. No one wants a cell tower in their backyard, but they want the coverage. Putting a cell site nearby an interstate requires the cooperation of the landowner, the local government and the carrier. It's not an easy dance, as I have been in the industry for about 5 years and we have a devil of a time putting these up where people want them. Cities, by and large, are NIMBY.



    Your best place to complain is the local governments, once they relax their standards, cell sites go in.
  • Reply 16 of 65
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    I had one of the very first cell phones in NYC back in 1984 but before that we had mobile radios on a shared channel. At times you'd hear interference from people a thousand miles away. But today, since even the lowest paid people in the country can own a cell phone, everyone seems to have a sense of entitlement. "My calls are very important. The nerve of these phone companies dropping my call'. Get over it. As much as you might think that cell phones should be a complete replacement for having a land line in your home, I don't think that the reliability is there yet.



    Customers should not voice their opinions and just accept the service provided. Sorry mate 1984 has long gone and the customers have a voice. I doubt it just at home, customers have issues, its the entire coverage when you outside your home.



    I lived in US for 6 years and I had bad experiences with cell companies, now I am in India and use Vodafone/iPhone, I have no issues and I have internet tethering :P
  • Reply 17 of 65
    Since launch of 3GS, upgrade to 3.0.1 and 3.1. , service is slow, my 3G signal blinks in and out like christmas lights even though have 3-5 bars. Can you say "rationing bandwidth" Keep getting Safari cannot open because not connected to data network and my battery now does not last more than 5 hours on stand by as it keeps searching for 3G. Much better 3 months ago. Coolest phone on a network that can't handle it. And they wonder why ratings dropping.
  • Reply 18 of 65
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Public opinion is not usually based on anything rational. A bunch of bloggers who are very vocal in their complaints can actually skew the public perception. I have average people tell me "Oh I heard the iPhone is not very good because of this or that they heard somewhere..." when actually they know nothing about it, but they have formed an opinion.



    The whiners are for the most part pissed about the $100 a month charge. If it were half that price we wouldn't be hearing any complaints at all. It's all about the perceived value not the network. The network complaint is just a smoke screen for the real reason. They love the iPhone, hate the monthly fee.



    All carriers have dropped calls and dead zones. I had Verizon before I got the iPhone and it did have better signal compared to AT&T at that time but AT&T is much better now that 3G has been implemented.



    You give to much credit to bloggers. The negative view is due to the high bar and expectations set by Apple's phone, and the inverse bar level set by at&t's business as usual attitude.



    Quote:

    ...Though he believes the contract between AT&T and Apple has likely been beneficial to both parties for the last two years...



    The above quote sums it all up. The contract has been good for both Apple and at&t, but not for consumers. It's a miracle they've sold as many iPhones as they have thanks to this crass union.
  • Reply 19 of 65
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post


    Pardon me, but you have no idea what the fuck you're talking about. My service is horrible. I drop calls almost every day. Signal comes and goes. Tons of dead spots. Is it about price/value....somewhat, yes. But it's really about the network. I'd still be just as pissed if it was $50 a month. It's not bloggers driving me dissatisfaction, that's for damn sure.



    That's unfortunate that your area has such horrible service. My service is as good maybe even better than Verizon's, at least compared to the time when I used their service. Signal quality apparently varies quite a bit across the country.
  • Reply 20 of 65
    I find it funny how everyone has a different experience with reception.



    My wife who has an iphone on AT&T travels all over the country and runs into very few problems, she even travels internationally and has similar experience with the iphone working well. Only one time did her phone not work well and that was in Yosemite Valley, the interesting part of that was our sons RAZR worked fine which it too is on AT&T. So I am not sure why the RAZR worked but the Iphone did not, I am thinking the RAZR switch to analog mode.



    For those people who have problems with reception do you have one of those fancy plastic cases on the phone. We have notice that some of those cases really mess with the phones reception. So before going off and saying it is the phone or AT&T it could be something else which you failed to recognizes.
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