Verizon wants the iPhone. Any carrier wants to offer its customers the option of using the most popular smartphone on the planet. And Apple wants Verizon to have the iPhone. An increased number of carrier options for the iPhone means more iPhones sold. Technical, strategic, and contractual reasons have prevented the Verizon iPhone from happening – so far. But (nearly) everyone should root for it to happen whether they themselves would want to use one or not, and for more reasons than might immediately come to mind:
Bandwidth: this might be the most obvious, but even if relatively few current iPhone users end up switching over from AT&T, the existence of a Verizon iPhone would stem the flow of longtime Verizon customers who’ve been coming over to AT&T just to get the iPhone (a far more popular trend in 2010 than the headlines might suggest). This will slow down the number of new iPhone users on AT&T, giving the carrier’s overburdened network a chance to catch up a bit. So the mere existence of Verizon iPhone would likely improve the quality of the iPhone experience on AT&T.
Competition: AT&T has iPhone users over a barrel on pricing, because iPhone users don’t leave the platform – and AT&T knows it. This means that the carrier can not only charge iPhone high-end pricing for basic voice and data services, it also means that add-ons like tethering arrive years late and come with asinine price tags, all while AT&T eliminates unlimited data plans in an attempt to make sure that all iPhone users are being overcharged, not just some of them. Verizon treats its own customers no better. But if the iPhone became available from both carriers, new iPhone buyers (who aren’t already under contract with one or the other) will be able to choose between the two, meaning that both AT&T and Verizon will have to at least make some feint attempt at offering vaguely competitive monthly pricing for iPhone users. This could end up saving existing iPhone users on AT&T a bit of money.
Economy of scale: Economics 101 says that the more iPhones that Apple sells, the cheaper it can manufacture them for – and the cheaper it can sell them for. And the larger the platform becomes, the more app developers get involved, which means not only more apps to choose from (as if there weren’t enough of them already) but also increased competition among app developers, which is a win for consumers. And a Verizon iPhone would likely means tens of millions of new iPhone users within the first tens of minutes of its availability.
So who should be rooting against a Verizon iPhone and why? The answer is fairly straightforward:
Verizon meltdown: Those Verizon customers who mistakenly brag about their network being significantly superior to that of AT&T are in for a rude awakening the day Verizon gets the iPhone, as those tens of millions of new iPhone users will put a major strain on Verizon’s network – which in technological terms, is as woefully outdated (CDMA) as that of AT&T (which still uses GSM). Even if most Verizon iPhone purchases are already Verizon customers, a major portion of them will be upgrading from a generic flip-phone which didn’t have any data functionality (email, internet, Twitter, Facebook, and so on). With all of those Verizon flip-phone users simultaneously upgrading to a phone with which they can chew through data at a healthy rate, the impact on Verizon’s CDMA network is would be anything but healthy (when Verizon and AT&T both go 4G in presumably 2011, this could be a different story)
We get asked about the Verizon iPhone a lot, and the answer is always the same: the only thing you can be one hundred percent sure of is that anyone claiming to know anything about an arrival or launch date is full of it, unless that person’s name happens to be Steve Jobs – and with his continued cryptic comments on the matter (such as his recent quip “the future is long”), it’s not even clear that he himself is sure when or if a Verizon iPhone might happen. But depending on which of the above categories you fall into, at least you know whether you should be rooting for it to happen sooner rather than later. Here’s more on the Verizon iPhone.