By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
July 31, 2009

This has been busy season for celebrity iPhone switching — and I’m not talking about Britney, Ashton or Branjelina. No, these are tech celebrities, the kind of people who tend to dominate Techmeme‘s list of the most-influential pundits and bloggers.

Om Malik, the New Delhi-born founder and executive editor of GigaOm (No. 17 on the Techmeme Leaderboard), kicked things off back in February when he announced that he was giving up his beloved iPhone. It wasn’t Apple’s (AAPL) fault, he wrote in My Big iPhone Break-Up. “I love my iPhone. But AT&T’s (T) network has failed me.” After AT&T dropped him twice during a single phone interview he said “enough is enough” and switched within minutes to T-Mobile (DT) and a Blackberry Curve 8900.

Two weeks ago, Henry Blodget went the other way. In How I Ended My Affair With BlackBerry And Eloped With The iPhone the former high-profile tech analyst and founder of Silicon Alley Insider (Techmeme No. 30) described the breakup in almost embarrassing detail, including the confession that it involved setting foot in an Apple store for the very first time. “It’s like entering another world,” he wrote — a revelation that sent the newly revived Fake Steve Jobs into paroxisms of disbelief:

“Wait a minute. You’ve never been in an Apple store before? … I need to sit down. Okay. Deep breath. You know what? Suddenly all of those dumbass stock picks (a strong buy on Excite@Home?) make sense to me. Dude, you know what? They did the right thing when they tossed you off the Street for life.” (link)

On Friday, Michael Arrington, founder of Techcrunch (Techmeme No. 1), made his confession. “I have loved the iPhone,” he wrote, echoing Malik and Blodget’s emotion-laden metaphors, “but now I am quitting the iPhone.”

“I was there in January 2007 when it was announced and I bought the first iPhone as soon as it was available. I happily bought the iPhone 3G a year later. I’ve proudly yelled “I Am A Member Of The Cult Of iPhone.” I’ve been an unabashed cheerleader for the device to all who’ll listen. And I’ve scoffed at developers who said they’d abandon the platform.” (link)

What pushed Arrington over the edge was the issue that dominated tech headlines for much of this week: Apple’s decision to deny Google Voice’s entry into the iPhone App Store. Arrington had been looking forward to using Google’s (GOOG) feature-packed call management system without changing his phone number or having to be tied to a particular cellphone carrier. Apparently Apple and AT&T decided they couldn’t allow that to happen, and they pulled the plug on all Google Voice-enabled apps.

What’s Arrington going to use instead? An Android myTouch 3G for telephony and an iPod touch for testing apps. “And Apple,” he concludes, “if you ever decide to put the hammer down on AT&T and do the right thing for your loyal users, I’ll consider switching back.”

You May Like