My husband, the Early-Adopter-Apple-enthusiast, has been drooling over an iPhone ever since word spread about its development several years ago. However, we live in a large city in a small state where Verizon rules and AT&T has little or no presence. It didn’t make sense to get an iPhone and never be able to use the “phone” part.

But, with this new 3G iPhone just being released, he simply couldn’t contain himself any longer and reserved two of them for us to pick up when they are released this week. With the buzz increasing around these phones, he started to get e-mails from his company’s informal Mac User’s Group (MUG) – people questioning how others who have previous-gen iPhones like them, the service coverage in these parts, etc. Most of the responses were tepid at best, but this one really woke me up:

I’ve read a few of the many, many emails on the subject over the past few days. My wife’s iPhone started becoming a problem a few weeks ago. AT&T sent her one of the “you’re using roaming for data too often” letter and set her phone to show when it was roaming. Like everyone else it shows that it’s off the AT&T network frequently. In particular, it’s roaming now at our home where it used to be on AT&T’s network. We think that someone else boosted their signal or AT&T’s signal has weakened. That’s what pushed her phone into the excessive roaming world. I called to talk to AT&T a couple of times. They eventually agreed to give her pass for now, but warned if she didn’t start doing more none [sic] roaming they’d send another letter and then disable her roaming capability. They lied. Roaming was turned off a few days ago. Her phone is now useless. She can make a call if she is bound to an AT&T tower, but it will disconnect if the signal from someone else’s tower becomes stronger. That’s happening all over the place. Around Santa Fe. In Albuquerque. In Phoenix. Everywhere she goes. I suppose that it would work if she stood under an AT&T tower. She’s about to get a Blackberry from Verizon (and maybe an iPod Touch for fun.)

I’m sorry. But this is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. First, she pays a monthly fee for service that she doesn’t get from the company she is paying money to. Second, she has no control over when she is roaming or not roaming, but gets punished for (God forbid) using her phone in a location where the company that she is paying money to sucks. Third, she gets her roaming capability turned off, in an area where she is paying money to a company that is providing her with no service. Fourth, they blame her for it all in the form of a form letter and the cancellation of the only thing that was making her iPhone operational in the first place.

Wow. No thanks.

Steve Jobs really blew this one. Creating a very innovative gadget that loads of people could find useful, yet entering into an exclusive agreement with a service provider that does this to its customers. For a company that prides itself on usability, Apple should have thought this one through.

Until the iPhone is available on Verizon, I guess we will have to make do with the Blackberry and Pinkberry he and I (respectively) got this weekend. Ah, Progress. It is a wonderful thing.