Last week, after Verizon Wireless used the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to stage a press conference about all its LTE consumer-oriented devices, I got the distinct feeling that it had just mopped up the floor with the competition – namely AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile USA. Ten devices coming on Verizon’s LTE network by mid-year? Astounding.
Then Tuesday’s news of the iPhone 4 landing at Verizon seemed to seal the deal. Oh, now you’re getting the iPhone 4 as well, Verizon? That’s great, even if it only works on CDMA and can’t do voice calls while surfing the Web. So what if Apple wasn’t willing to make design changes for an LTE version? People have been asking for an iPhone on Verizon for so long, it wasn’t worth the wait.
Actually, if I had been paying closer attention, I should have figured out a week ago that Verizon’s version of the iPhone would have to be CDMA. After last Thursday’s press conference, where Verizon invited vendor after vendor to talk about their upcoming LTE devices, it would have been real crazy if Verizon followed that up with a special Apple event on Tuesday talking about an LTE version of the iPhone. Like, you just trotted out all these snazzy new handsets that are in the pipeline, and you’re going to eviscerate them with an LTE iPhone? How would that fly?
Back to those rivals. Judging by some of the comments on AT&T’s Facebook page this week, all I have to say is: 1. Someone’s got their hands full monitoring that stuff and 2. There are a lot of bitter, bitter iPhone customers out there and they’re hell bent on going to Verizon. But to be fair, there are some customers who are just as passionate about AT&T, which you wouldn’t have guessed based on John Oliver’s report for The Daily Show on Tuesday.
Is it a little too simplistic to think Verizon is cleaning the clocks of every other carrier? After all, Verizon execs can sure turn on the charm, with their slick presentations and jokes about 6G. Just because it’s perceived to offer the best network by so many people doesn’t mean its pricing is the best, or that it’s got every little feature you’re looking for.
Well, the results of a survey released today seem to indicate the momentum favors Verizon. Scratch that. The surveyors say their research shows the momentum clearly favors Verizon. The ChangeWave survey, which was conducted before Verizon’s iPhone announcement, asked 4,050 respondents how likely they were to change their wireless service provider in the next 90 days. A total of 10 percent said they plan on switching.
At the time the survey closed in late December, only 4 percent of Verizon’s customers said they plan to switch in the next 90 days, but 10 percent of Sprint Nextel customers and 15 percent of both T-Mobile and AT&T’s customers said they planned to switch. And it seems that AT&T’s attempts to improve its network/quality of service aren’t catching up fast enough to consumers’ experience or perception. Of the current iPhone owners on AT&T who were asked about switching if and when Verizon got the iPhone, more than one in four, or 26 percent, said they’ll leave AT&T for Verizon, mostly citing poor reception/coverage and dropped calls.
Now we all know this isn’t the end game. T-Mobile quickly released an ad that’s running online this week that pits it against the two biggies, claiming both the AT&T and the Verizon networks are slower than T-Mobile’s. Sprint’s already sent out invites for a Feb. 7 press event in New York City where it promises to unleash an “industry first.” We’ll see. In the meantime, between the splashy media events and mind-bending ads, carriers all know what they have to do. It’s complicated, yes, but no one’s going to roll over and play dead.