Goodbye, Verizon Wireless, Goodbye - InformationWeek

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1/31/2005
12:13 AM
Mike Elgan
Mike Elgan
Commentary
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Goodbye, Verizon Wireless, Goodbye

Dear Verizon Wireless: There's no easy way to tell you this, so I'm just going to come out and say it. I have left you for another wireless company. And I'm taking the kids.

Dear Verizon Wireless,

There's no easy way to tell you this, so I'm just going to come out and say it: I have left you for another wireless company. And I'm taking the kids.

Please understand that I still believe you're the best wireless carrier in North America in every way except one (which I'll get to in a minute). Your coverage is great, and service is the best in the business, bar none. I never had the billing problems and sneaky, nickel-and-dime-you-to-death issues I had with so many other carriers.

Believe me, I really, really wanted to make it work.

But you must understand, I have my needs. Specifically, I need PalmOne's Treo 650 camera-enabled smart phone.

PalmOne's mother-of-all smart phones is a dream gadget. The camera is super high quality. The Qwerty keyboard enables me to bang out real e-mail messages from anywhere. The interface. The speakerphone. The thousands of Palm applications. The amazing screen. Bluetooth. Everything. I've wanted this phone ever since I heard the vision for it described by its main designer, Jeff Hawkins, at a Silicon Valley dinner some four years ago. When the 650's predecessor came out, the Treo 600, I waited patiently, knowing that a radically better "2.0" version would eventually emerge. When it did, I trusted that you would support it.

First Sprint came out with the 650 in October. Now Cingular is expected to release its Treo 650 to business customers any day now. Meanwhile, you haven't said a word about when you'll offer the 650, presumably because you want to keep selling the old-and-busted 600, instead of the new hotness like your competitors are.

I sent you e-mails, asking when you would come out with the 650. But you ignored me. And I waited.

Well, by chance I happen to be traveling a lot lately. The recent winter storms left me stranded in random airports across the country. Alone. Isolated. Unable to check my e-mail. And then it hit me: What good is great coverage, superior customer service and great wireless technology if I can't use it?

"Shipping" is not only a feature, it's the most important feature.

So yesterday I walked into a Sprint store, bought a Treo 650 and signed a contract for Sprint service. In addition to fairly reasonable voice prices, they charge $15 for unlimited wireless usage (web browsing, e-mail, etc.). This was the killer feature over Cingular, which charges a fortune for a specific number of megabytes of data, plus an additional amount of money for every half-megabyte over that.

And now I couldn't be happier.

And because I don't like using minutes to talk to my immediate family, I'm taking them with me to Sprint. You have lost an entire family of loyal customers, simply because you don't know how to get new handsets to market quickly.

Sure, you'll offer customers the Treo 650 eventually -- when it's halfway to obsolescence. But I don't care. I'm a Sprint customer now. My only regret is that I waited this long.

Goodbye, Verizon. If you ever figure out how to get new products to market faster, call me.

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