AT&T pulled a big blunder this week that may have a swath of new and prospective iPhone customers up in arms. The blunderer? AT&T, not Apple. The blunder? Advertising that the new iPhone comes with free Wi-Fi (which it sadly does not). Now the aim of this article will not be to point fingers at AT&T for its error, however, but to clear up any and all confusion about what is and isn't so regarding WiFi and the second generation iPhone.
First, the details of the mistake...
Apparently, this past Friday, July 18, 2008, AT&T posted an advertisement on it's U.S. website proclaiming that iPhone subscribers were now able to access all 17,000 of AT&T's WiFi hotspots for free. Specifically, the notice said:
"AT&T knows Wi-Fi is hot, and free Wi-Fi even hotter, which is why we are proud to offer iPhone customers totally free access to the nation's largest Wi-Fi hot-spot network with more than 17,000 hot spots. Now users can relax and access music, email, and Web browsing services with their favorite blend in hand from the comfort of their favorite location."
Now, to set the record straight...
Unfortunately, that is simply not true. And although AT&T execs quickly caught on to the error (quickly being 1 hour after its publication) and promptly removed the erroneous notice, it was already too late, as countless site visitors had already taken in the information.
Equally unfortunate is the backlash that came of this (one which hopefully will soon dissipate, though no one can truly tell), that being the infuriated postings on blogs and user forums irate about being so misled. Certainly some want AT&T to make good on its gaffe as compensation for putting erroneous information out there. Of course, there is little to no chance that AT&T will oblige (no matter how terribly sorry they are).
Other, less disgruntled web writers, however, have posited that perhaps this offering, while prematurely announced, is actually something that AT&T has in the works. For why would they even post such an outrageous claim if it wasn't at least a conversation behind the scenes?
At least anger at the blunder is being properly directed, though, and doesn't seem to have bled over into Apple's camp, nor taken any punch out of the 3G iPhone's thunder. For sales of the 3G iPhone have been even better than Apple's seemingly lofty predictions, with most vendors sold completely out and a second round of shipments not scheduled until October. As long as demand outweighs supply like this, no amount of errors on AT&T or anyone else's part can make a dent in the iPhone's star status.
As though to highlight this point, CNet's regular posting about its Top 10 Reviews of the Week (and that's of all products, not just smartphones) hails the iPhone as number one.
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