While AT&T and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) continue to wrestle with complaints related to 3G network issues with the latest iPhone, an analyst firm speculates Research in Motion may be delaying its latest product release to avoid the same problem. A report by Citi Investment Research, speculates RIM may be moving back the release of its BlackBerry Bold in the U.S. to make sure the network performance is acceptable.
Following 12 hours of Bold product testing, analyst Jim Suva wrote the smartphone experienced "a few occasional 3G signal dropping troubles at some locations especially on high-rises building streets," as well as within Citi Group's 34th office floor location. The analyst noted that such glitches could be why AT&T has yet to launch the latest RIM smartphone into the US market.
"Our view is RIM will not push out this device without resolving such issues via software patch or AT&T resolution," Suva wrote.
An AT&T (NYSE: T) spokesperson said the carrier does not comment on product launches ahead of time.
And while declining to comment on the iPhone's 3G-related complaints, the carrier said it has made "incredible strides" with its 3G network and plans to have 350 metro areas in place by year's end. iPhone 3G is one of more than 40 global devices AT&T offers.
"We are constantly working to optimize and tweak the network to meet user needs and adding coverage wherever we can," an AT&T spokesperson told InternetNews.com.
The Citi report states the Bold's 3G software aspect "needs minor adjustments," and that the BlackBerry "will appeal to business users especially those who travel internationally." The Bold is reportedly slated to arrive this week in Canada before a formal US debut in early fall.
Requests to RIM (NASDAQ: RIMM) for information on the launch date and 3G network issues were not returned by press time.
A suit against Apple
The iPhone and AT&T 3G network issues hit a US District Court last week when an Alabama woman filed suit against Apple claiming that marketing promises of faster data services and better network connectivity were not delivered. Apple did not respond to press calls on the lawsuit, and calls to lawyer Jim Kudulis, who filed on behalf of Jessica Alena Smith, were not returned by press time.
The legal action has propelled debate among experts and industry watchers over whether handset makers, chip providers or wireless carriers are ultimately responsible for reliable network connectivity.
As one analyst pointed out good network service is tied to device software, network testing and network availability.
"So much depends on where the problem is," Jeff Kagan, wireless and telecom industry analyst, told InternetNews.com.
"Is it the iPhone device itself or on the AT&T network? AT&T has many phones on the network without this problem so that leads us to believe the problem is on the iPhone," Kagan said, adding that it's not known yet how big, or small, the issue is as neither AT&T nor Apple have provided data on iPhone subscriber complaints.
"During the first week or two there were several updates which fixed some initial problems. Since then my phone works without problem," Kagan said, nothing it could be as simple as users not updating the software.
"Only if you plug it into the computer does it activate the iTunes software and check for updates," he noted.
This article was first published on InternetNews.com.