The industry was shocked when Apple announced that the iPhone would only be available on AT&T in the summer of 2007. While many phone makers tried to get their handsets on as many carriers as possible, Apple entered into an exclusive agreement with AT&T that lasted until February of this year.

Despite the new competition from Verizon, Sprint, and regional carriers like C Spire, iPhone owners have remained loyal to AT&T. Perhaps the nation’s biggest GSM carrier isn’t as evil as we all thought?

Glen Lurie, AT&T’s president of emerging devices, recently told MarketWatch that the carrier hasn’t seen many iPhone customers jump ship in recent months:

“Churn has not moved at all,” said Glen Lurie, president of emerging devices for AT&T. Churn refers to the number of customers who cancel services.

Lurie said the carrier’s relationship with Apple Inc., maker of the iPhone, has been positive, and they’ve had record-breaking sales of the latest iPhone 4S which has led to some supply issues. U.S. consumers are looking at a week to two week wait times to get the latest iPhone 4S from AT&T, he said.

AT&T sold a staggering 1 million iPhone 4S units during Q3. The carrier still saw a slight decrease in iPhone activations during its last quarterly earnings, with only 16% of all iPhones in the US sold on its network. AT&T owned 37% of the US iPhone market this time last year.

When the iPhone 4S came out, we compared the device on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. AT&T seemed to be the fastest data provider in most cases.

People seem to be sticking with AT&T as new iPhone models become available. It’s important to put this in a larger context: AT&T is the only carrier in the US that has tons of iPhone 3GS customers with expired contracts. This means that there were many more customers ready to upgrade on AT&T when the iPhone 4S was announced, while Verizon customers only got the iPhone 4 earlier this year.

You can look at AT&T’s customer loyalty in a number of ways. It seems to be a testament to AT&T that so many 3GS customers decided not to switch providers this year.

What do you think? Did you stick with AT&T when you bought your latest iPhone? Are you considering switching to another iPhone provider?

  • Well I stick if they fix the data plan 🙁 $$$$$ no unlimited data

  • Brian Evans

    I stuck with ATT so I wouldnt lose my unlimited data package…The only reason

  • Brian Evans

    I stayed to keep my unlimited data…the only reason.

  • Dan

    i’m guessing this doesn’t apply to canada, it’s been offered by several providers for a while now

  • I think I speak for most ATT iPhone users, I was with ATT since my 3G, had unlimited Data, and I have been grandfathered in. So I have no real reason to leave. I wouldn’t go to Verizon, because I’d loose unlimited Data, and Sprint, well… their speeds aren’t as fast as ATT, so why bother switching. I have no problem paying 10 bucks more a month on ATT, with my current plan, over sprint, to have faster data speeds.

    • I agree completely. I too am grand fathered to the unlimited plan. I have the 3GS. I am wondering if I should wait till the next iteration of the iPhone AFTER the 4S. I have played with other’s phones, and in my area I definately say AT&T is quicker for data. Until there are data only plans and we’re using only VoIP, lets not forget the minutes. I have the cheapest plan but because of roll over I have over 4000 minutes to use. I occasionally go over my standard 550 so this is helpful to have. So for now moving to another carrier means more money for less and AT&T hasn’t done me wrong yet.

  • Only reason I haven’t entertained the thought of switching is because I still have the “grandfathered-in” unlimited data plan. If they ever change that, I’ll definitely be considering the alternatives.

  • Im still with AT&T and im not planning on switching

  • The article makes no sense. AT&T had to have a LOT more than 37% of the U.S. market share this time last year and WAY more than 16% this year.

    • Agreed, if they were exclusive to AT&T until February this year, how could anyone have them last year?

  • Anonymous

    Seriously, you guys with unlimited data, how much do you really use? I have the 6gb plan and the highest i ever used was 500 mb in a month.

    • Anonymous

      How much do you pay for 6GBs a month?

    • So why the hell do you pay for 6 GB? That does not seem very smart.

  • I have only used over 1 gig once but usually get close. However this is not the point. Data usage will only continue to get bigger as files for anything get larger. You don’t ‘need’ unlimited now and that’s why the carriers are doing this. By the time you realize you need more the unlimited plans will all be a thing of the past and you’ll still be getting raked over the coals on your bill.

  • Anonymous

    I was talking to an AT&T Rep. He said that AT&T has been looking into making a unlimited data family plan.

    Just though I would share the info. Maybe iDB can look into it?

    • The rep I talked to hinted that they would be allowing iPhone customers to return to their unlimited plans after downgrading to a tiered plan when the new iPhone 5 comes out. Of course, she had no actual information, and she couldn’t put anyone back on the unlimited plan now (November 29, 2011). But she said “they’re working on bringing it back”. Lip service to antsy customers? Probably. A smart tactic to prevent customers from jumping ship to Verizon once a 4G LTE phone is available? Possibly – especially if Verizon does not reinstate the unlimited data plan at that time. We’ll find out in summer/autumn of 2012.

  • There are, primarily, two reasons AT&T has seen such retention. Neither of them have anything to do with carrier loyalty.

    1. Many iPhone users are grandfathered into unlimited data plans that are no longer available elsewhere and are increasingly more valuable in the Age of the Cloud.

    2. AT&T’s GSM iPhone is the only iPhone that can use data while on a call. The true test of this “loyalty” will come when Apple finally releases an iPhone for 4G LTE. (Perhaps as early as the upcoming iPhone 5.)

  • I have remained loyal to AT&T for several reasons. I personably have always ha great reception out here in So Cal. There customer service is top notch I’ve had a couple of issues with my bills and they gave me no problems with crediting my account correctly.
    I also am grandfathered in with the unlimited data and believe me I go WAY over on the data so unlimited is my only option. Lastly AT&T is the only provider that allows you to talk and surf the Internet, check emails etc and I love the option to do that.

    Keep up the fantastic job AT&T

    They also gave me my first bill “on them” for verbally committing to them when I told them I will be getting the iPhone 4S.

  • I have remained loyal to AT&T for several reasons. I personably have always ha great reception out here in So Cal. There customer service is top notch I’ve had a couple of issues with my bills and they gave me no problems with crediting my account correctly.
    I also am grandfathered in with the unlimited data and believe me I go WAY over on the data so unlimited is my only option. Lastly AT&T is the only provider that allows you to talk and surf the Internet, check emails etc and I love the option to do that.

    Keep up the fantastic job AT&T

    They also gave me my first bill “on them” for verbally committing to them when I told them I will be getting the iPhone 4S.

  • I used 18-20gb a month….

  • Just switched back to AT&T from iWireless unlocked with my iPhone 4. The data speeds were soooooooo slow, i could not stand it anymore. And to let everyone know, there is a way to get unlimited data back. Hit me up if your interested.

  • I personally love AT&T and I don’t see why anyone would want to leave for Sprint or Veizon. I think Verizon is overpriced and here in Sherman Oaks CA their service sucks! I think what gave AT&T a bad name was the iPhone 4 because of the Death Grip. I had a lot of people tell me that they get dropped call and it’s because of ATT. I told everyone it’s a easy fix, just get a number case and your good to go.

    I currently have a iPhone 4S with no bumper or case and I have great service in the Los Angeles area. My DATA speeds are great and I can’t complain. As for Sprint, they suck. I have 3 friends that got a iPhone 4S with Sprint and they have service like the iPhone 4 with its death grip.

  • Neil Lim

    Yes I stay with att due the rest of my family and friends all have att. I save air time when ever I call them and don’t have to go to the next higher mins plan. Another reason is because the unlimited data plan without these two reasons we all would have search for another carrier that would give us the best plan. So listen up AT&T Ive been a customer with Cingular and stay with u when you purchase Cingular. I’m going on my 9th year with you guys no plans to leave unless u give me a reason to.

    • Matthew Moriyama

      Congratulations on that, but a little correction. Cingular bought AT&T and then decided to Change the name back to AT&T because of Brand Recognition.

  • Fernando Solano

    I used to have AT&T but I ended up having to switch to Verizon after I moved into my dorm because I wouldn’t get receive any service. I fought with them with no success to let me off my contract and I finally had to file a complaint into the BBB. After that they let me off and honestly I don’t miss AT&T. Calls dropped ALL THE TIME. I was grandfathered into the unlimited data but I don’t use more than the 2GB a month anyway…

  • I’m using AT&T too, I have a question
    Do you guys thinks AT&T would have Unlimited data plan again?

    • Anonymous

      its not hard to get unlimited back, u can do it anytime, regardless if att doesnt offer it anymore