Granted, OEMs not named Apple will continue to be challenged to step up their game, but they knew this day was coming.
I admit it. I took the bait. I entered my phone number on Verizon Wireless’ site to see if I’m eligible to upgrade to the iPhone 4. I was already 99 percent sure of the answer, but I did it anyway, and of course, I’m not eligible until June 2012.
Will I make the switch when 2012 rolls around, or even sooner? Maybe, but I doubt it. I purposely bought a Droid 2 for my personal account because my colleague Andrew Berg uses the iPhone 4 with AT&T’s service. We need to spread the love and see how Android stacks up against iOS, so there’s that. And color me old-fashioned, but I still keep my personal and work phones separate, and for work, I’m fine with my new/old BlackBerry. I like the keypad, and if a BlackBerry is good enough for a president of the United States, well, it’s good enough for me.
On one level, the iPhone at Verizon changes everything for the wireless industry. No longer do we have to hear AT&T field questions about what it will do when its exclusivity ends (repeat after me: “We have a strong/the biggest/the best smartphone line-up”) or from late-night comedians joking about how great the iPhone is – except that it can’t make phone calls (in certain places and at certain times, I might add.) We can all stop obsessing about when the iPhone will hit Verizon stores because it will be generally available in early February. Many of those AT&T subscribers who vowed to split as soon as the iPhone becomes available at Verizon will do so, paying their early termination fees if that’s what it takes.
To be sure, big changes are ahead. Estimates about how many subscribers will leave AT&T for Verizon started rolling out long before the deal was official. The consensus seems to be that initially, device upgrades by current Verizon subscribers will account for the majority of iPhone activations. Some estimates, like those from IHS iSuppli, project Verizon will get 10 million to 12 million iPhones on its network in 2011. To put it mildly, Verizon doesn’t have to worry about net adds being on the positive side of its balance sheet this year.
Heck, in the early days, Verizon hardly has to advertise at all – let Jon Stewart and Comedy Central do the marketing.
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE…
As the year progresses and carriers and vendors release their quarterly earnings reports, we’ll find out just how many customers are defecting from AT&T and other carriers. Meanwhile, a lot of things will stay the same because a lot of these issues are already baked into service providers’ and vendors’ strategies. They knew it was coming, so they worked on products like the Androidbased Motorola Atrix 4G smartphone and Laptop Dock that were unveiled at CES to some rave reviews. Now, if handset vendors didn’t step up their game when the first iPhone came out in 2007, they’re probably never going to.
The two biggest carriers will continue hammering each other in their advertising. AT&T will claim that it offers the superior iPhone experience, with “the nation’s fastest mobile broadband network,” as well as better international coverage and the ability to talk and surf the Web at the same time. Verizon will say it’s got the better network and boast about the ability to actually hold a phone call.
Here’s another reason for believing there’s little impact: There’s a legion of Apple fans and a legion of Google fans, and they’re not going to change their minds. Sure, some folks will want the iPhone because it’s the cool thing. But there’s a host of others who are as diehard about Google/Android. So in a sense, the situation is much the same as it has been: A faceoff between Apple and Google.
That’s right, the iPhone 4 landing at Verizon Wireless, finally, after all these years of speculation, will change the landscape of the wireless industry forever. On the other hand, it’s been so widely expected that it doesn’t change all that much.
Comments or story suggestions? Contact me at email@example.com