Skip to Content
Skip to Table of Contents

← Previous Article Next Article →

ATPM 15.01
January 2009




Download ATPM 15.01

Choose a format:

Mac About Town

by Mike Chamberlain,

When Worlds Collide

I’m a brand-loyal guy. Hook me early and I’m yours for life.

Catsup? Heinz. Soup? Campbell’s. Soda? Coke. Football team? Dallas Cowboys. Yeah, I know they stink, they’re smart-asses, and I have lived in AFC country for a long time now, but that’s the point—hooked early. I can’t help myself.

Those of us who experience the ongoing certainty and comfort of brand-loyalty can be shocked, however, when we are forced to confront a direct collision between two competing “givens.” That was the case for me when my preferred computer company collided with my preferred cellular provider.

I have been a Sprint customer for a very long time. I even stuck with them when they were disabling Bluetooth capability on my phone for fear of illicit computer connection, thus also denying me the ability to keep my phone in sync with either my Mac or my Palm. I always experienced good customer service, and when I moved to Kansas City, the home of Sprint, my loyalty grew deeper.

Then came the iPhone and AT&T.

Readers of this column will know that I only made the move when the 3G showed up. I’ve loved every minute and have never regretted the move. Even AT&T has been OK for me, though I continue to miss my Sprint connection. One evening last month, my connection got personal.

In my work here in KC, I meet a large number of people from across the metro area and from a wide variety of jobs. Two of my acquaintances are senior executives with Sprint. In the past, I have relied on both of them for advice on my preferred phone and, in fact, my beloved Treo was a suggestion one of them made to me. I won’t mention their real names as I’m not sure that I want the CEO of Sprint—who would recognize their names—to know that they fell down on the job. Let’s call them Fred and Barney (Cartoon favorite? Flintstones.) Both Fred and Barney are in product development and services for Sprint. Fred has been with Sprint since the early PCS days, and Barney, a senior VP, took an early retirement not long ago.

I ran into Fred, still cranking out the phones, at a meeting a few weeks ago. One of the others present let Fred know that I was packing an iPhone. When Fred asked me what caused me to go with AT&T (notice his reference). I explained that I had looked at the new Sprint Instinct but that it didn’t have a functional calendar (coming out soon according to Fred) and wasn’t even close to Apple in the touch screen technology (Fred agreed). I pointed out one of my current favorite apps, Instapaper, and its ability to save Web pages for later, offline reading. Fred said that Sprint did it faster.

And that’s when it hit me.

I realized that in my phone selection I had come to the intersection of two preferred brands and had been forced to choose. The question in this case is, “Why?”

Why do I have to pick either a provider or a phone? Why can’t I have both choices?

I said to Fred, “I really liked being a Sprint customer, and I would be a Sprint customer today if Sprint would provide full service for my iPhone. But you want to tell me what phone to use. I don’t let the cable company tell me what kind of TV to watch. (Flat screen? Pioneer plasma.) Why should you get to tell me what kind of phone to use?”

Fred didn’t have an answer to that. I wonder if he ever will.

Happy New Year, friends.

—Mike Chamberlain

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (0)

Add A Comment

 E-mail me new comments on this article