There’s one right in front of us right now. Last Tuesday, if you were “plugged in” to any social media platform, you undoubtedly heard from news sources, as well as overjoyed contacts, that Verizon was going to, in fact, add Apple’s iPhone to its line of service, after years of rumor and speculation. Based on the reaction, it seems to Verizon’s customers are more like fans. For many online, it seemed that Verizon’s winning the iPhone was like winning a championship of some sort. That cheerleading also made its way into traditional media coverage, which instantly enhanced the already strong iPhone and Verizon brands.
That’s because Verizon has won the war of wireless reputation. Widely held public perception, fed by Verizon’s consistent and broad advertising campaign, is that Verizon has the “best network,” “most reliable” and “best service.” AT&T’s reputation has been build around product availability (namely the iPhone) but an inferior network. Apparently, there is third party data to back this up, but I’ve never seen it cited. Really, it doesn’t need to be cited because it is widely accepted as fact.
In the past four years, I have owned “smartphones” on both networks. My opinion is that, when it comes to the networks, it depends a lot on where you live. I happen to live near a Verizon “black hole,” which was extremely frustrating. AT&T’s network is much better near where I live. My AT&T phone drops calls, but in different places than my Verizon phone did. When I traveled with my Verizon phone, in some cities it worked better than others. The same is true with my current AT&T phone.
But, really, in the court of public opinion, none of this matters. Verizon should be commended for working hard, across multiple platforms, to earn its superior reputation. Looking at its business results, it has paid off. Perception really is reality and reputation really is everything.