According to research firm ChangeWave, 15% of AT&T’s mobile subscribers plan to switch carriers in the next 90 days. Even worse for AT&T, 26% of its iPhone users plan to defect to Verizon once it gets the iPhone (41% within the 90 days after the release of the iPhone and 31% within a year). With numbers like this and the general undercurrent of dislike for AT&T in the tech blogosphere, these statistics are obviously catnip for the tech press and most outlets reported them as simple facts.

But I’m having a few issues with these numbers that make me think that this survey is ultimately too flawed to be trusted:

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  • This kind of self-reported data about future purchase decisions is notoriously unreliable. Just look at the numbers. Almost 30% of those who said they would switch don’t even think they would switch within the next year. But those who answered the survey (and we don’t know enough about the methodology here to begin with) could have had lots of different reasons for telling ChangeWave why they wanted to switch (social pressure, “sticking it to AT&T” etc.). Notice how ChangeWave’s numbers about dropped calls are also self-reported.
  • The group of people ChangeWave interviews is highly self-selected. This data is not based on random phone interviews but on a survey of “credentialed professionals who spend their everyday lives working on the frontline of technological change. Nearly 3 out of every 5 members (53%) have advanced degrees (e.g., Master’s or Ph.D.) and 91% have at least a four-year bachelor’s degree.” These people opted to be part of the ChangeWave Alliance for the sole reason of being a part of these surveys.
  • The survey was conducted before Verizon had even announced the iPhone for its network. Even today, we don’t know critical information about how much Verizon plans to charge for its data plans, for example. We also haven’t seen any speed comparisons between AT&T’s and Verizon’s networks yet.
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    Will a lot of people switch from AT&T to Verizon? Probably. This survey, however, doesn’t really tell us much and the numbers are questionable at best.

    Let’s come back in a few months and see what the real numbers are. I’m sure if this many people really switch, Verizon will be more than happy to tell us.

    verizon-att-iphone-defectors.jpg