In a bit of news that could drive some iPhone users to gnaw their own legs off at the knees, AT&T has been named the "world's most valuable telecom brand," according to Millward Brown's BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2011 study. Not since Marisa Tomei's Oscar victory or President Obama's early win of the Nobel Peace Prize has an accolade generated such an immediate "huh?".
It's not a Watergate-caliber scoop that AT&T's network struggles have held many iPhone users back from enjoying their smartphones to the fullest. So, today's announcement of the telecom provider's victory comes with an inch-thick slab of sweet beefy irony as Apple--the iPhone's trendsetting manufacturer--sits atop that very same list as the world's top global brand of any category. En route, Apple beat out Microsoft, IBM, McDonalds, and Coca Cola. Valued at $69.9 billion, AT&T is No. 7 in the overall global ranking.
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Of course, "most valuable" doesn't mean "most reliable" or "most satisfactory." In the case of AT&T's network struggles over the last few years, "most valuable" also doesn't mean "most likely to prevent thousands of insanely frustrated iPhone users from hurling themselves naked and on fire off of buildings in Cupertino." We're talking money and global influence on the Brandz list, which is derived from both financial performance and interviews of consumers about their perceptions of brands and why they go with one over another.
To be fair, AT&T's value is not based solely on its hosting of iPhone service--and the overall network capacity appears to have improved over the last year. But to me, this victory lap for AT&T ranks up there with such unexpected accolades as Mel Gibson's Tolerance Trophy and my win for 2010's Top Male Model. What's your experience been like with AT&T?