As U.S. iPhone exclusivity goes down for the count, the race to see which other carrier comes up with the iPhone first is in the home stretch and it’s become clear that the Verizon iPhone is set to be the winner ahead of either a Sprint iPhone or a T-Mobile iPhone. One of the three had to be first because, well, that’s just how Apple does things. If Apple had its way the iPhone would remain available on only one carrier per nation and it would use that exclusivity (and the threat of revocation) to whip that carrier into offering an Apple-like experience. But upon realizing that such a thing isn’t possible, at least here in the U.S., here comes the iPhone on a second carrier and it’s Verizon by at least a nose. In hindsight, here’s why the Verizon iPhone had to come first ahead of T-Mobile or Sprint, much as it’ll upset devotees of those two carriers:
Verizon is significantly larger than either T-Mobile or Sprint. That fact has to come first and foremost in any conversation on the matter. Expanding the iPhone to Verizon means more potential customers than expanding it to either (or perhaps even both) of the other two. It’s obvious, but there it is.
Verizon wants it. Badly. Don’t let all the Droid bluster fool you. Internal numbers from Verizon show that the iPhone is outselling the Droid by a jaw-dropping margin of 2.5 to 1, meaning that Verizon’s highly visible attempts to compete with the iPhone have been a flat out failure. While Sprint and T-Mobile have their niche markets for various reasons, Verizon is looking to play king of the world against AT&T – and without the iPhone it’ll never, ever happen. That means that Apple can get Verizon to capitulate to doing a Verizon iPhone on Apple’s terms.
T-Mobile and Sprint customers won’t want to hear this, but Apple is likely gambling that at least some of them, who rejected the idea of using an AT&T iPhone out of hand, may now be willing to settle for a Verizon iPhone instead. Even though study after study shows iPhone users to be very happy with AT&T, and Verizon and AT&T to have the same retention rates, those outside the AT&T customer base have a colossally negative opinion of the carrier. For whatever reason, despite being no better in any measurable capacity, Verizon benefits from a much better reputation. That means Apple has a shot at gaining the customers of three different carriers simply by releasing a Verizon iPhone and seeing how many Sprint and T-Mobile customers jump ship. Here’s more on Verizon iPhone.