When Verizon iPhone doubles marketshare, analysts will choke on words
December 15, 2010 by Beatweek
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.