Rumors of a Verzion iPhone are never ending, and they are reaching an even higher crescendo this summer. The latest rumor is that the iPhone is going through field testing on the Verizon network and that they’re ironing out the business details. There have also been lots of other interesting signs this summer – AT&T cozying up with Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, Apple ordering CDMA parts, and exclusivity-ending statements in AT&T filings with the SEC.
The prevailing opinion is that Verizon will help Apple sell a lot more iPhones. While I am sure that there would be an opening weekend feeding frenzy for the devices, I don’t see Apple as the big winner – Android will be.
1. The iPhone is a shiny object
Apple is exactly what Verizon wants to lure more people into its stores. Once there, they will see lots of great phones, Android phones: the Droid Incredible, the Droid X, the Fascinate, and the Droid 2. All of these devices can hold their own with the iPhone. Plus most of these phones will be cheaper than the iPhone. I’m willing to bet a lot of casual buyers will get drawn into a Verizon store because of the iPhone but leave with an Android device.
2. Verizon’s bait-and-switch strategy
Verizon will heavily market the iPhone to draw people into their stores, but once there, people will see signs pushing Android, and lots of them. Verizon has clearly aligned itself with Google. Verizon and Google’s joint net neutrality proposal and rumors of a Google Chrome tablet exclusive for Verizon should indicate who Verizon’s real partner is.
3. Just another face in the crowd
At an AT&T store, the best device was an iPhone, hands down. Not the case in the Verizon store. Instead of being the top dog, the iPhone will be just another smartphone. In fact, people will notice greater diversity with Android handsets with regards to form factor and screen size as well as features like a slide out keyboard. Android offers a lot more versatility over the one-size-fits-all iPhone approach.
4. There’s no reason to wait
If someone really wanted the iPhone, they should already have it from AT&T. Sure AT&T service on the iPhone is poor, but people who want the iPhone have already moved past that and just sucked it up – they’ve had four years to switch carriers. The only place there could be some pent-up demand is on corporate Verizon accounts where it was cost prohibitive for people to switch.
5. New customers, but only for Verizon
The majority of people who want the iPhone on Verizon want to switch from AT&T. A recent study showed that 1 in 3 AT&T iPhone users want to switch. I believe this is the same group who are feeding the rumors as well. They must think that if they wish it hard enough, Verizon will pick up the iPhone and give them freedom from AT&T. In fact, if the Verizon iPhone winner is Android, the loser is AT&T.
The bottom line – it’s inevitable that the iPhone, or an Apple equivalent, will make it to Verizon. It would be silly for Apple not to let it happen. If I was Google, I wouldn’t be concerned. In fact, I’d relish it. It will only fuel Android’s rapid growth.