I was originally intending for this post-Coachella entry to be about all the cool emerging media and tech at this year’s Coachella festival. Instead, it’s going to be a rant against AT&T. Not only was cell service non-existent for basic calls, text messages and even email but trying to use the mobile web was an even worse nightmare. What makes this ironic is that the festival ran out of paper schedules by early Saturday and directed people to the Coachella iPhone App which didn’t really help you find your way around. So not only could you not contact friends to meet somewhere but you also had to rely on the sparsely located stationery “Here you are” map areas to locate certain stages. And that’s if you happened to already have the app installed – there was no way you were going to be able to download the app with non-existent service.
What about the advanced emerging media and tech like mobile marketing with QR codes, livestreaming and social media updates? Not a chance. I only found out after the fact that most of the tweets I was sending out at the fest weren’t actually going out. And I didn’t even bother to livestream any of the bands knowing that the AT&T network was useless. You would think with 75,000+ people at Coachella every day that someone would have thought, “maybe we should get some mobile cell towers in there like we did for SXSW to improve service for our customers.” Nope. And I don’t seem to be the only one that’s frustrated with this clear lack of planning by AT&T.
So there you have it. I’m not sure how Apple can continue to market livestreaming and other advanced features and apps for the iPhone when it’s pretty clear that AT&T cannot keep up with demand. With projections of mobile web usage continuing to skyrocket, I think the upward trend on this graph will clearly outpace the time it takes for AT&T to get it’s act together or just render their entire network useless. And as long as Apple is tied to AT&T, I don’t think mobile interactive video will take off this year as hoped with the rumored iPhone 4G coming out. Another post for another time though…
In closing, if you want to know how the overall festival went (sans any cell or internet service), there’s some good footage on both YouTube and Ustream. RFID technology continues to gain ground at events as you can see from the picture above of the Coachella wristband. You can also see some of the praise and complaining on twitter with hashtag #coachella. And if you are still not a fan of Muse, you have obviously not been enlightened yet!