Are AT&T's Problems Getting Lost in the Fake Steve Backtracks, Backtalks, and Crazy Backflips?


Fake Steve Jobs, the nom de guerre of Newsweek's Dan Lyons, got a ton of attention for his Operation Chokehold campaign to effectively DDoS the AT&T data network, including from AT&T itself and the FCC, not to mention pretty much every commenter on the interwebs who, while they might have applauded the cause, didn't much appreciate the method.

Along with a quick follow up conversation with Fake AT&T CEO Randall Stevenson, where Fake Steve again absolutely excoriates the iPhone's lone US carrier for making billions in profit on iPhone data plans while apparently cutting investments in the very network infrastructure on which the iPhone is supposed to use that data, he first tried to back track a tad, and then just went... a little nuts.

As has happened in the past, Fake Steve is taking the criticisms and spinning it into a farce including hooks into the Tiger woods scandal, historic figures of social conscious, terrorists, former and current heads of state, and now pretty much everything short of a kitchen sink app for iPhone.

In the end, we can't help but think his original point -- that AT&T isn't investing in a network to support the iPhone and future mobile computing platforms even though they have the resources to do so, and are maximizing short-term shareholder profits over long-term share-holder and customer value -- has gotten lost in the gimmick.

And that's a shame, because AT&T really needs to invest in their network and give iPhone users the infrastructure they're paying for.

UPDATE: Gizmodo shows, in PowerPointy form, how AT&T is making more money, yet spending less on networks, since the original iPhone was released.

[Thanks to everyone who sent in many and wonderful variants of all this!]

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

TiPb Top 5 iPhone Bluetooth Headsets

Next up →

WordPress and Tumblr show iPhone Tweetie and Twitterrific Not Just for Twitter Anymore

Reader comments

Are AT&T's Problems Getting Lost in the Fake Steve Backtracks, Backtalks, and Crazy Backflips?


He claims to be experiencing server problems. I hit reload a few times and they eventually worked. Could be he's getting more hits than his host can handle these days...

I hope as dumb as this prank may seem after reading those Gizmodo posts that the majority of you guys join us Friday; if your worried about people who have to make emergency calls dont be because it probably wont even get to that and if it did the fact that 911 calls by law are routed to the first available network. whether it be AT&T or T-Mobile this wont be an issue.

ATT is making a helluva lot of money. I honestly believe 3 years into this now they knew this was going to happen. Everything now at this point is an excuse. When the first iPhone launched I wasn't so sure and so I waited to get a 3G. Once I started getting into this platform I knew it was going to be major and I'm no genius. The FCC decided to allow those commercials to continuing airing for one reason only: it was the truth and they predominantly use ATT. They want them to reinvest more money in their infastructure. The profit numbers don't lie. This is the same reason America is in this deficit right now GREED. While they are the only network with the iPhone they will continue to do this slow rollout. I can't wait for them to lose their monopoly in the States with this phone. We can't even use it to the fullest of it's potential. Apple is not perfect no company is but we can see they are continuosly evolving and putting major money back into their product. I heard they spent a Billion on developing the iPhone. I say like Jobs run ATT as well.

I remember reading, around the time of the release of the iPhone 3G, that members of the European telco workforce, with much more experience with 3G networks, were surprised at and skeptical of AT&T's 3G rollout plans.
If you look at what a network is and how it works, I think it should be clear that it's possible for a network userbase to grow too quickly. This scenario shows one inherent negative aspect of carrier exclusivity deals in the case of a device as popular as the iPhone 3G (i.e., the most popular) in conjunction with a network rollout. But what is "this scenario"? It's consistent profits during a bad recession (i.e., the worst) for a publicly traded corporation.
IMO, the problem now is that AT&T has been trying to promote some idea of "network responsibility" -- i.e., that we are all part of a community and so forth. And yet, AT&T has no public image implying even remotely that they have those sentiments, seeing as they never claim responsibility for anything and always find someone or something else to blame. Apple either says absolutely nothing, or they respond to customer complaints within a few days. Plus, people think of them as geniuses, who are arbitrary, temperamental, and occasionally insane.
I don't know who is responsible for AT&T's PR, but that person needs to get canned and some modern wizard of the modern world will have to step in. As much as I admire his work, Owen Wilson is not going to be able to save them right now.

The lows that AT&T will go to. Suing Verizon which only worked to promote Verizon and having to quote lines from "island of misfits." And now they're arguing with some idiot blogger named Fake Steve which of course is gravy for him.

Or they know a 4g rollout will cost AT&T even more money. So they are backing off now for 4g preparation... And Luke Wilson was in old school so that makes him awesome by default..

We still use a 1st generation iPhones because I'm unwilling to pay an extra $240 a year for the 3G service (2 phones) on top of the $480 we pay for iPhone service . Between mine and my wife's phone we're paying close to $200 a month for cell phone service. This is in addition to $35 a month for AT&T DSL service at home. I can see Fake Steve's point. One good thing that has come of this is it did finally get AT&T's attention.

OMG! is the iPhone news that slow, that you have to continually update us on a guy that can't even come up with his own name?! stop giving so much credit to a guy that just constantly whines about something and does nothing about it...

So, ATT Bashers, I have a question:
What are you going to complain about tomorrow when ATT does NOT CRASH AND BURN?
Everybody was so smugly sure turning on MMS would melt the towers. Didn't happen.
I predict they ride this out just find, no more traffic than election results or SuperBowl games. And a lot of smug bashers with egg on their face.

Since I know nothing of this, how were the Euro cell companies skeptical of AT&T? Maybe because they used 850 MHz cell spacing for 1900 MHz 3G? Not leaving enough towers up after network integration?

Icebike, even if Chokehold doesn't melt the AT&T towers, they still have major progress to make in old ATTWS markets like NY, as well as in SF, Washington, and Chicago. Their rural coverage also needs to expand fast. I think this is an irresponsible stunt but the Chokehold stunt won't help AT&T's poor perception.

I agree with earless. Maybe AT&T Is just going to blow us all away with a super fast 4g rollout with all that cash they have saved up.... Or maybe just be super greedy like GMC and end up being bailed out by the fed hahaha.

If you really want to get AT&T. Why don't you just get them where it hurts, and go to verizon and get a droid. It would certainly leave a little more bandwidth for the rest of us.

i love my iphone. and i live in the dmv area which is a major city so i almost never have service probs. but i would still love to c att step up with their overall US coverage so crap like this wpuldnt need to happen. they just realsed that mark the spot app so i hope they plan on spending some of that new found money on new towers