The release date for the iPhone 5 has arrived. Sprint has kicked off the news by cutting the price of the iPhone 4S by $50 to $149, which in the world of Apple and its very rare price cuts, signals that the iPhone 5 is indeed due to arrive no later than early September, as previously reported here and elsewhere. Sprint is merely leveling off the inventory of the 4S ahead of the iPhone 5 launch, at which point the 4S is widely expected to become a $99 product while the iPhone 4 becomes the free-with-contract model and the aging iPhone 3GS is retired altogether. Sprint’s move is intriguing in that its sudden attempt to burn off iPhone 4S inventory suggests that the 4S could go away altogether in favor of an iPhone 5 lineup which spans the pricing range from free to premium…
Various clues leaked regarding the iPhone 5 show that it will be a taller device with a screen which exceeds the standard 4:3 contrast ratio. That means iOS 6 will come with an option for a taller on-screen interface. Apple may be looking for a fresh start by flushing away all of the current iPhone models in favor of a new iPhone 5 lineup with a low-spec free model, a mid-spec $99 model, and a flagship model at $199 and $299. As such, carriers like AT&T and Verizon and Sprint would need to sell off all of their remaining iPhone 4S and 4 inventory ahead of the launch. That’s what makes Sprint’s sudden price reduction so intriguing: is it merely bleeding down 4S inventory to more manageable levels before it has to begin selling them for a mere $99 in the iPhone 5 era, or does this signal the end of the iPhone 4S altogether? We’ll find out soon enough, as the one thing the inventory bleed-off means for sure is that the iPhone 5 will be unveiled within weeks and will see its release date within a month.
by Bill Palmer
If the iPhone 4S was the first time U.S. carriers had to fight for iPhone users’ loyalties, then the iPhone 5 release date represents a shift from that fight into an all out blitzkrieg. At present, Verizon is promoting itself as having the most reliable network for iPhone, while AT&T is pushing the fact that you can talk and use the internet on your iPhone at the same time even as Sprint touts its unlimited iPhone data plan offerings. But the iPhone 5 is set to bring a new round of items for the carriers to fight over as it delivers a host of new features. Chief among them will be 4G LTE networking. The iPhone 5 will likely be the first smartphone to employ next-gen 4G LTE antennas which offer solid battery life in contrast with the fast-draining competing LTE phones currently on the market. But as of the iPhone 5 release, each of the three largest carriers will be in its own place when it comes to building out their nationwide 4G LTE networks…
Verizon is clearly in the lead with 4G LTE, having erected towers in most major cities but still needing to blanket suburbs and rural areas. AT&T is significantly behind, still touting its 4G LTE buildout based on the number of cities it’s put towers in with no mention of just how small a percentage of the overall population that might cover. Sprint is currently in last place in the 4G LTE wars, having been using a competing (much slower) form of 4G up to now and needing to start from scratch with 4G LTE. But fans of Sprint are quick to point out that the carrier tends to do more to try to please its customers (witness the unlimited data offerings and generally lower cost voice plans), so it’s conceivable that Sprint could surpass the generally lethargic AT&T during the 4G LTE buildout. So what does this all have to do with the iPhone 5?
The fifth generation iPhone will finally and officially usher in the 4G LTE revolution. The current state of 4G LTE, in which some users have bought enabled phones but most complain about absurdly short battery life and many have no idea they’re not even getting a 4G LTE signal, will give way to the iPhone LTE era in which battery life is fine and tens of millions of LTE users are added to the map within a matter of days of the device’s release date. The carriers who’ve done well with the 4G LTE buildout up to that point will be sure to market themselves as such when it comes to the iPhone 5. Those carriers which are behind in the LTE wars by that time will need to find something else with which to entice iPhone buyers to choose them. Here’s more on the iPhone 5.
by Johnny Major
Sprint says today’s iPhone 4S launch was the biggest in the company’s history – and it reached that mark by noon. Suddenly the carrier, which was beleaguered and in financial danger just a couple weeks ago, is now riding high after a mere few hours of being an iPhone retailer. There’s still plenty that’s tentative about the company’s position, as carriers tend to lose money on subsidized phone sales in the hopes of getting it back through monthly payments during the course of the device’s life. Now Sprint just has to hope that the monthly money shows up fast enough from its legions of new iPhone customers in order to right the company’s financial ship. Meanwhile the the iPhone’s other partners, AT&T and Verizon, are watching closely. While AT&T jettisoned its unlimited monthly data plans for all but its longest of longtime customers and Verizon only allowed a limited number of iPhone 4 buyers under the unlimited data tent before zipping it up, Sprint is (for now) offering unlimited monthly data to all of its customers including its legions of new iPhone 4S buyers…
Sprint is gambling that it can provide a superior iPhone experience over its larger rivals by offering unlimited data usage, lower monthly voice and text pricing plans, and what many of its customers claim is superior customer service. Sprint must not only use the iPhone 4S to retain its existing customers who have in some instances been changing carriers to get the iPhone, it must also lure longtime iPhone users away from its rivals if it hopes to grow (clearly the EVO and Sprint’s other Android based phones weren’t making that happen, just as the Droid wasn’t driving growth for Verizon; both are now essentially betting the company on the addition of the iPhone). For now it’s not clear what percentage of initial iPhone 4S sales are going to which carrier. AT&T reported more than two hundred thousand iPhone 4S preorders in the first twelve hours, and Apple reported more than a million among all carriers combined in the first twenty-four; the math won’t line up until all three carriers report iPhone 4S sales (and for that matter the now sub-$100 iPhone 4) sales across the same timeframe. But for now it appears a rising tide can indeed float all boats, at least in terms of hardware sales.
Updated with additional information on the Sprint iPhone launch
by Johnny Major
iOS 5 arrives this fall and, by tacit extension, the iPhone 5 along with it. The good news, then: fall 2011 starts this Friday. Thus begins the official clock watch era for the iPhone 5 release date, with all previous hand wringing from the past few months having been for naught. Back in June, Apple stated that iOS 5 would be a fall release. With the new iPhone and the new version of its iOS operating system nearly always arriving in tandem with integrated new features spanning both, that represented an admission on Apple’s part that the iPhone 5 would also be fall release. Those who expected it any sooner weren’t listening carefully enough. So now that the release date window is actually upon us, it’s fair to look more closely at just what will comprise the new iPhone. Nikki Gerrick asks the question on everyone’s mind: “I’m getting this the day it comes out for Verizon, what’s the best feature it’s going to have?”
That in and of itself brings more questions than answers. Those iPhone users who’ve long been displeased with AT&T’s network and are planning to switch over at the next launch might quip that the best feature of the Verizon iPhone 5 is that it’ll be available on Verizon. Sprint customers might say the same, with a Sprint iPhone 5 being everything but official. This comes as, unfortunately for its customers, T-Mobile admits it won’t have the iPhone 5 upon its release date. But digging more deeply, and looking at features which might arrive for all carrier iterations of the iPhone 5, a wide array of possibilities comprise the list, with some of them more probable than others. Here’s a rundown…
A5: the new microprocessor which already powers the iPad 2 and is significantly faster than the A4 found in the current iPhone 4. The A5 is considered highly probable for the iPhone 5, one of the few safe feature bets.
4G LTE: this new networking technology is being pushed hard by the marketing departments of Verizon and AT&T. One problem, however, is that Verizon is still building its LTE network while AT&T just began building its LTE network last week. That means most iPhone 5 users won’t be able to use LTE at the time of its release date, even if it’s built in (see the various 4G LTE Android phones in this same scenario). Another concern is that LTE requires a physically large antenna and drains battery quickly. Still, carrier influence may override pragmatism here.
NFC: it’s the digital wallet feature which Google and PayPal are already promoting, but it’s not ready for prime time. Will Apple try to take it to the mainstream with the iPhone 5? Anyone’s guess…
Screen size: the iPhone 4 screen has the highest resolution (by far) of any phone on the market, but it’s also physically smaller than that of some competitors. Apple could continue promoting quality and quantity of pixels over low quality millimeters, or it could give in and simply add a few millimeters to the iPhone 5 screen.
iOS 5 wildcard: those who thought they were seeing everything iOS 5 had to offer back in June were being naive. Apple tends to keep at least one feature of its new operating system in its back pocket until launch, and that feature typically ties directly into the new hardware. Count on at least one iOS 5 software feature, tied to a new iPhone 5 hardware feature, to become the “killer functionality” around which Apple builds its iPhone 5 marketing message. Here’s more on the iPhone 5.
by Bill Palmer
The long (inter)national iPhone 5 release date nightmare is fourteen days away from being over, according to an Apple employee who’s speaking out of turn. Along with it will come answers on the iPhone 5 feature set, the iPhone 4S sidekick issue, and final word on whether Sprint will be joining Verizon and AT&T among the iPhone 5 ranks for launch day. Apple’s official policy regarding unannounced products is “What iPhone 5?” until further notice, but one staffer is nonetheless claiming that the launch event for the big iPhone 5 announcement is a mere two weeks out. Assuming the event isn’t being held on a Monday, that points to October 4th or 5th for the event. Apple once consistently had its events on Tuesdays, but has since branched out to Wednesdays as well. There’s never a way to absolutely confirm that what an employee thinks they know is in fact what’s really secretly in the cards. But this news is a ray of light amid a week in which various claims have pegged the iPhone 5 being buried in manufacturing hell and not surfacing until next year. So for the sake of that hope, here’s a look at how things will play out between now and the release date if the announcement really is two weeks from now…
One week from now, Apple will announce a media event and send out press invites. Nothing will be said in advance as to what the event is about, but the images and catch phrase on the invite will subtly hint that it’s the iPhone 5 so that the correct journalists show up, as opposed to if this were the launch of a new iMac. The event will then be held on the 4th or 5th, and if Apple’s recent tradition holds true, will be live-broadcast over the internet in an effort to get Apple’s message directly to mainstream consumers without being entirely filtered through the tech media. Tim Cook will see his first action in an Apple product launch event, as dodging the stage entirely would lead to “Where’s Tim?” questions which would only build up otherwise. But don’t expect Cook to emcee the event; Apple VP Phil Schiller, who’s spent years playing the foil in Steve Jobs’ press events, will likely serve as grand master. Jobs could pull a shocker and play a small role himself, either because he wants to prove to investors that he’s still in good health or because he believes the iPhone 5 is too important to not participate in the launch. But regardless, the event will mark the first official bit of publicly visible insight into the new-look Apple management team in action. Several questions regarding the iPhone 5 will be answered in that sub-two-hour stretch…
The actual release date for the iPhone 5 will be one of the last things announced. The new iOS 5 interface will get a long demo from a number of Apple employees, showing off new features which hadn’t been debuted when iOS 5 was first previewed this summer. Then comes the iPhone 5 hardware unveil, along with the big “killer feature” upon which Apple will build its marketing campaign. That could be anything from 4G LTE networking to a larger screen to an outside the box feature (see FaceTime with the iPhone 4 launch). Then comes the breakdown of the rest of the specs, followed by the pricing. If Sprint is indeed joining the iPhone team, expect Dan Hesse on stage to talk about how glad his carrier is to be finally offering the iPhone. Verizon’s CEO may also get an appearance, as the Verizon iPhone 4 launch in March means that Verizon has yet to get a shot at being a part of one of Apple’s official iPhone announcement events. Once the event ends, the real fun begins…
Apple typically spans about two and a half weeks from new iPhone announcement to release date, so expect Friday October 21st as the most likely on-sale target. If there’s sufficient initial inventory to allow it, online preorders will begin about a week before that date, but may be cut off quickly if demand proves to be so high that the preorders risk cutting into retail launch day inventory. Then on the 21st (or the night before, if Apple opts for an early morning launch), lines will form at retailers ranging from Apple Stores and carrier stores to electronics stores like Radio Shack and Best Buy, and we’ll soon find out just how much iPhone 5 inventory Apple really has on hand. Here’s more on the iPhone 5.
Almost no one is going to buy a Verizon iPhone unless they’re already using an iPhone, claim pundits who are clearly high on something. Here’s what’s actually going to happen: Verizon customers, who’ve been stubbornly holding for the iPhone for as long as it’s existed, will line up in droves, literally, on the first day the Verizon iPhone is available. AT&T customers, who’ve been using the iPhone going back to 2007, will mostly stay put. With Verizon about as large as AT&T, it’s easily conceivable that the arrival of the iPhone on the other side of that impenetrable cellular wall will result in the iPhone seeing its U.S. marketshare double by the time it fully saturates itself among Verizon customers, leaving analysts who are predicting the converse to choke on their own words. In the mean time, with what little time is left before the Verizon iPhone rolls, it’s worth analyzing why the analysts have got it so wrong.
The theory analysts are clinging to says that nearly everyone who’s ever going to buy an iPhone has done so by now. But that theory assumes that nearly every consumer values having the phone they want over using the carrier they prefer, which any formal or informal survey of Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile customers will quickly disprove. Earned or not, AT&T has a special kind of bad reputation among much of the populace. Even as most iPhone users profess to have little or no issues using their iPhone with AT&T, users of the other three carriers are simply unwilling or unable to believe them. Many of AT&T’s haters will point to customer service horror stories of years past, rather than any real evidence of network or call quality issues, as they reason why they’ll “never” become an AT&T customer under any circumstances. Intriguingly, some of those haters have referenced their own first-hand experiences with AT&T from a decade or more ago, when AT&T was primarily a long distance landline provider whose makeup bears almost no resemblance to the AT&T of today, calling into question the sageness of the carrier’s 2007 switch from the Cingular name back to AT&T. In any case, with so many Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile customers unwilling to go anywhere near AT&T, iPhone or otherwise, it’s clear that a Verizon iPhone will see significant sales from the Verizon customer base right out of the gate, as the product currently has an unprecedented level of pent up demand.
With the iPhone going to Verizon in early 2011 but apparently not going to Sprint or T-Mobile, the real question is not whether the Verizon iPhone will hurt AT&T, which as the iPhone, but whether the Verizon iPhone will lure customers away from the other two carriers. How many Sprint and T-Mobile customers, who’ve been avoiding the iPhone because they can’t live with AT&T, will suddenly decide that they can in fact live with Verizon once the Verizon iPhone hits the market? These are the angles analysts should be focusing on, rather inexplicably pimping the notion that everyone with an interest in the iPhone has already switched to AT&T and bought one. Here’s more on the Verizon iPhone.
iPhone perfection? Nah. Why so long to fix the most obvious complaints, and just where is that Verizon iPhone already. The iPhone got so many things right from the start that it revolutionized the entire cellular industry and (despite continual unsubstantiated claims otherwise) dominates the smartphone market. But ask iPhone users (or non-users) whether they think the device is perfect, and they’ll instead rattle off a typically short yet biting list of original sins which Apple got wrong off the bat and then took too long to fix or still hasn’t. Here are the most popular iPhone sins, which may or may not be in any particular order, depending on your point of view.
Verizon iPhone: If you build it, they will come to AT&T, or so Apple must have thought. Some did. Some have made it clear by now that they never will. Four years later, Apple is just now finally about to fix the Verizon iPhone sin, orso we think. That’ll still leave the Sprint iPhone sin and the T-mobile sin, but there’s always the year after.
Orientation lock: Many early iPhone users were downright dizzy thanks to a hyper active autorotation and no way to turn it off. After three years of this generally being the number one complaint among existing iPhone users, Apple finally grudgingly added the option to turn the cursed thing off, but only through a buried five step process. Apple’s sin here is that it’s still too proud of its autorotation, being almost as averse to an autorotation-free iPhone as it is to a Verizon iPhone.
Email: The iPhone has had a great email client from the start, so long as you only had one email address. Having two email accounts on your iPhone was a downright nightmare. Thankfully, Apple fixed this sin fully with the release of iOS 4.
Those looking for an answer on the Verizon iPhone can look to the philosophical battles that Apple and its CEO Steve Jobs love to wage and usually win. The question is whether pushing the iPhone to majority marketshare without the inclusion of Verizon (or Sprint or T-Mobile) is one of those battles that can Apple can win. Most CEOs view their job as a game of checkers: short term gains and losses, and a zero-sum game with regards to the competition. But unlike almost anyone else in his position, Steve Jobs views his role as that of a chess player: complex long term strategies and an emphasis on getting everyone else to deal with his gameplan.
So how does this relate to the possibility of the iPhone coming to Verizon? Let’s look at Apple’s history over the past twelve years:
When Jobs returned to Apple in the late nineties, he decided minitowers were superfluous for most users. So instead of trying to sell a Mac minitower to a public who was already used to buying PC minitowers (as Jobs’ predecessors had unsuccessfully attempted for years), he decided to try to sell the public on the idea of an all-in-one Mac known as the iMac. Twelve years later, even most people who own PC minitowers consider their minitower to be superfluous, and when PC users consider switching to Mac, the fact that the Mac is an all-in-one is almost never a factor (unless you’re talking about geeks, of course). So what does this have to do with the Verizon iPhone? We’ll get to that in a minute.
Speaking of the geeks… Somewhere along the way Jobs decided that rather than pandering to the influential technology geeks whom he knew were ultimately going to continue buying and promoting Windows-based products one way or the other, he would go the other direction entirely. Why try to win over geeks you know you can’t win over, when you can just make them irrelevant instead? Apple has repeatedly launched products such as smartphones and digital video software, which had long been strictly the purview of the geeks, but launched versions which were so specifically mainstream-oriented that the geeks hated them – and it ultimately didn’t matter. For the first time, the mainstream woke up to the idea that they too could be owning and using such products. And not only have those Apple products become successful, they’ve broken mainstream users of their habit of waiting for the geeks to pass judgment before considering new technology themselves. The geeks hated the iPod because it’s not geeky enough, and yet it dominated the market. The geeks hated (and still hate) iTunes for the same reason, and yet iTunes controls the music industry. The geeks hated the iPhone, and yet in spite of that (or perhaps because of it), the iPhone is the only smartphone that anyone in the mainstream actually wants to be using. And now we’re getting to how that relates to Verizon and the iPhone.
All four cellular network experiences in the United States are subpar compared to what you can find in certain other civilized nations. We could argue all day about whether it’s because the U.S. government allows carriers to legally get away with anything and everything they want, or whether it’s because the American people are just that pre-conditioned to expect big businesses to offer awful experiences that they don’t even bother to fight back. But the bottom line is that the Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint experiences in the U.S. are all something out of the dark ages compared to the best of the cellular experiences in parts of Europe and Asia; the differences in suckage between the U.S. carriers are merely a matter of degrees. Obviously, someone like Steve Jobs has no desire to see an Apple product be dependent on such a horrible network user experience from any of the four of them. So Apple’s plan, ostensibly, was to offer the iPhone exclusively to one of the four U.S. carriers, on the condition that Apple could contractually demand that said network be whipped into shape and thus offer iPhone users an experience better than what the other three putrid carriers would be offering.
Three years later, and that plan hasn’t worked. Rather than playing along like it was supposed to, comatose AT&T is acting like it’s almost willfully trying to violate that exclusivity agreement for the sake of being free of it. As it turns out, the U.S. cellular networks were in even worse shape than anyone thought going in, and all it took was the popularity of the iPhone to make AT&T’s paper-thin network to fold up like a napkin (the same would have of course happened to a different U.S. network if the iPhone had instead gone exclusively to Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint). Rather than do what it has to in order to keep the iPhone exclusively, AT&T has apparently decided that it would be more practical to simply allow some new iPhone customers to go elsewhere. Apple’s failed attempt at reforming AT&T into being a reputable company through the contractual carrot-and-stick approach is absolute proof that the U.S. cellphone carrier industry will never be fixed without government intervention. But more relevant to this conversation is the fact that after three-plus years of trying, this is the rare chess match that Steve Jobs is losing.
Not only has AT&T exclusivity had the unfortunate effect of placing all U.S. iPhone users on one overburdened network instead of spreading that burden across the four of them, it’s also cost Apple a staggering number of iPhone sales. And it’s not just the hardware sales, either. When a Verizon customer settles for a Droid instead of moving to AT&T to get an iPhone, Apple loses the ensuing App Store revenue. Even those who buy an iPod touch instead of an iPhone are all but guaranteed to purchase fewer apps, as the thousands of network-dependent apps in the App Store are broken on the iPod touch at all times except when at home or at Starbucks. No wonder Apple recently added a camera to the iPod touch, so those users can now at least spend their money on photography-based apps.
In my position, every week I hear from someone who’s recently switched from Verizon to AT&T just to get an iPhone. But every day I hear from someone who’s still sticking with Verizon three years later, desperate to find out when or if the iPhone might find its way to Verizon. And even in my own personal space, I hear from friends or family who are on some other carrier and whose perception of the iPhone experience on AT&T is significantly more negative than the actual AT&T iPhone experience.
So, then, Jobs has yet another chess game to play. If exclusivity hasn’t yet fixed AT&T but he wants to continue trying for a little longer – or if he merely wants to wait until the 4G era to open up the iPhone to additional carriers – then the game in the mean time is to convince the mainstream public that using an iPhone on AT&T isn’t nearly as bad as perceived. And while that just happens to be a verifiable fact (verified both by several reputable formal studies and any informal survey of current iPhone users), the notion of “It’s not as bad as you think and the other options are nearly as bad anyway” has never been a particularly marketable message, even when that message is true. The other angle Apple can take is that having a massively better phone more than makes up for a slightly inferior network, which while reasonable enough on its face, is basically the message that Apple has been tacitly pushing for the past three years. It’s worked where it’s worked, but at some point you have to wonder how many more Verizon customers are going to be convinced that AT&T is within a rounding error of offering the same quality of network experience.
And this is where reality takes a back seat to perception: at this point Apple is trying to convince the millions or even tens of millions of Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile customers who want an iPhone but are inexplicably so in love with their current carrier that they’ve been willing to deny themselves the phone they want for three years now. But if Apple wants the iPhone to ever have majority marketshare, which is clearly a possibility based on public sentiment toward the product and its obtusely geeks-only competitors, it’ll have to convince these millions of stubborn folks that the iPhone is with leaving their worshipped current carrier for. Either that, or Steve and the gang can call this particular game of chess the stalemate that it’s become, and start a new game in which the iPhone comes to all four carriers and everyone gets to buy one who wants one. It’s Apple’s move.
Here’s more on the prospects of a Verizon iPhone in 2010.
Potential iPhone 4 buyers in the U.S. appear to be unclear on which carrier(s) the new iPhone will be available from in astonishing numbers, if the overwhelmingly large number of U.S. websurfers landing on this site after searching Google for terms like “which carriers will the iPhone 4 be on?” and “will the iPhone be on Verizon?” and “Sprint iPhone 4″ are any indication. So in the hopes of clearing up all the confusion, we’ve assembled this simple textual chart:
AT&T – yes
Verizon – no
Sprint – no
T-Mobile – no
any U.S. carrier not named “AT&T” – no
While it’s entirely possible that iPhone 4 could be released at a later date on additional U.S. carriers, there are currently no official announcements or hints to the contrary. Outside the United States it’s a completely different story (in fact T-Mobile does carry the iPhone in some countries), but for iPhone 4 buyers in the U.S., it’s currently AT&T or bust.
We hope that clears things up for confused potential buyers. But judging by the sheer quantity of the confused search terms, we’re not so sure it will. Here’s why it might be time for those Verizon customers waiting for the iPhone to come to them to finally put up or shut up.
Apple is pushing its new iPhone 4 while Sprint promoting its new HTC EVO as a competitor. The axiom that Apple designs its smartphone for the mainstream while other smartphone makers (knowingly or unknowingly) design theirs to be strictly suitable for geeks now appears to extend to naming conventions as well. The typical consumer hears “iPhone 4″ and instantly understands what the product is and what it does: it’s a phone that is part of Apple’s ecosystem of “i” products, and it’s a new version that’s more up to date than the last iPhone, which had a “3″ in its name. In contrast, the typical consumer hears “HTC EVO” and thinks it’s a license plate. With the exception of those who are familiar with HTC as a vendor (most outside the geekdom aren’t) and who are understand what EVO is supposed to mean (most outside the geekdom don’t), the HTC EVO brand name has no meaning or context and could just as easily be interpreted as being clue from a crime novel as being a brand name of a smartphone. Even those mainstream consumers who have it explained to them that “HTC EVO” is a phone supposedly aimed at them may have a hard time swallowing the notion that any product that geekily named could actually be suitable for non-geeks as well.
The scenario evokes memories of the middle part of the previous decade in which Apple’s iPod saw competition from Sony’s NW-HD1. While the name “iPod” was less clear as to the device’s functionality than the name “iPhone” it did paint a picture in the consumer’s mind of an easily usable product, whereas again, Sony’s NW-HD1 sounded more like a license plate. As it turned out the iPod was highly suitable for consumers and the NW-HD1 wasn’t really suitable for anyone, so it’s no surprise that the iPod still dominates that market while Sony pulled the plug on its product fairly quickly; the terrible product name was mere icing on the cake.
A closer examination of the user interface and usability of the new phones reveals that iPhone 4 is fact suitable for consumers in terms of making each of its functions inherently usable while avoiding needless overcomplicating, whereas the HTC EVO is in fact three solid inches of pure geekdom, only suitable for users who like their gadget interfaces to be a mystery which must be solved like a puzzle (whether Sprint intended the HTC EVO to turn out that way or not). But then most potential users already surmised as much from the products’ two brand names.
Speaking of iPhone 4, here are some reasons for and against current iPhone users upgrading.
Forces are aligning anew which make it seemingly more clear than ever that the iPhone will eventually be available through more than one carrier in the U.S., ranging from AT&T’s desperate attempt to limit data use by new iPhone users, to Verizon’s too-carefully chosen recent words in which said that it didn’t plan to support any Apple products in the “immediate future.” But while there’s no indication that next week’s rollout of the next iPhone will involve anyone but AT&T, here are Beatweek’s best “Vegas style” betting odds that the iPhone finds its way to each of Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile by the end of 2010.
Verizon: 67% It’s the obvious choice because it’s the largest U.S. carrier not to have the iPhone, and its users (either by desire or via sheer numbers) have been the loudest about wanting the device.
Working in favor of a Verizon iPhone: Current Verizon users come out of the woodwork to all buy an iPhone. Apple claims dominant majority marketshare of the U.S. smartphone industry within months. Verizon makes lots and lots of money. It makes too much sense for the companies to not do eventually. And Verizon can’t be so deluded as to think that its Droid has a long term mainstream future. Here’s why we think a Verizon iPhone needs to be Apple’s priority.
Working against it: Any Verizon iPhone in 2010 would have to be CDMA, which means either an entirely separate “Verizon iPhone” which wouldn’t be compatible with any other network, or a hybrid iPhone model with multiple receiver technologies inside which would waste precious space which could have otherwise been devoted to a new iPhone feature.
Sprint: 22% It’s the one U.S. carrier whose CEO has a name everyone knows, as Dan Hesse has taken to the airwaves himself to advertise that despite not offering any phones that anyone wants, Sprint does offer the lowest monthly rates on phones that no one wants.
Working in favor of a Sprint iPhone: When your only remaining marketing strategy is to slash your prices, you’re in trouble. The iPhone could be a boon for Sprint, even if the terms of the deal were more favorable to Apple.
Working against it: The Palm Pre was massive flop, but now that HP has acquired Palm, will Sprint give HP a shot at getting the Pre right with the next generation, before going running into the arms of a competitor?
T-Mobile: 14% Outside of its own userbase, most people only know three words about T-Mobile: Catherine Zeta Jones.
Working in favor of and against a T-Mobile iPhone: How many T-Mobile users do you even know? It seems unlikely that Apple’s first iPhone foray outside the arms of AT&T would be with such an obscure carrier – unless it was as a trial run for a future Verizon iPhone launch.
Notes: These odds merely represent our best educated guesses. They add up to slightly more than 100% because we believe there’s a very slight chance that the iPhone could end up on more than one new carrier before the end of the year (although if it’s Verizon, we would expect that to be an exclusive). Only allow these odds to impact your buying decisions to the extent that you agree or disagree with the reasoning; we have no inside information of any kind. Whatever you do, don’t place actual monetary wagers. Seriously, they’re just cellphone carriers.
Oh and by the way, the iPhone expanding to additional carriers would not mean that the iPhone would no longer be available on AT&T, to existing or new customers. We wouldn’t expect that to happen any time soon or far.
Those who’ve been hoping that the iPad would be available with Sprint’s cellular data network instead of AT&T’s 3G option are in luck – sort of. In what appears to primarily be a marketing stunt, Sprint has released an all-black iPad sleeve with a special section built in to hold one of Sprint’s “Overdrive” 4G mobile routers. Sprint’s case costs $100 on its own but (no surprise) is being given for free to those who purchase one of Sprint’s routers and are
foolish enough confident enough to sign a two year contract for the router, which allows a wifi-only iPad to get on the internet as long as it’s never more than a certain number of feet away from the router. The signal can also be shared out to up to four other nearby devices.
While straightforward, the stunt is remarkable in that Sprint and Apple have no connection to each other otherwise; not only have Apple’s iPhone and iPad partnerships only ever been with AT&T, even the rumors about supposed future iPhones typically involve Verizon, not Sprint.
photo courtesy the good folks at MacNN