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The Verizon iPhone

UPDATE: Some people have taken offense to my post. They took issue to the term "fanboy", as if I was calling each person who own an iPhone a fanboy, and if somehow that term is derogatory. If you interpreted the post in this manner, and got offended, I apologize. What I'm trying to communicate, is that the bulk of Verizon's sales of iPhones will come mostly from people who purchase everything Mac every time Apple releases a new product. They are FANS of the product. They eat, drink and sleep Apple. These people are commonly referred to as "fanboys". It doesn't mean they're uneducated. It doesn't mean they're not as worthy as non-fanboys. They're just big fans of a monoculture. That's all. Outside of that surge, the small minority will be the curious who are out of contract, or those upgrading from feature phones. It will likely sell millions. It just has a lot of catching up to do with 600% Android growth over 2010. Don't take offense. It wasn't the intent of the post.

UPDATE 2: For a better written post on my feelings about today's event, head over to PCMag and read the article by Sascha Sagen. My feelings exactly. The iPhone is a good phone (it's not crap, it's just not 5-star), it just isn't the savior of mankind, now that it's on an GSM network.

I want to get a head start on this, before the blogoshpere goes bananas with "OMG!" and "I told you so". In case you've been living under a rock, there have been rumors floating all around the Internet that the Apple iPhone will launch on the Verizon network, effectively losing the carrier vendor lockin with AT&T in the United States. People have weighed in on every side of the issue. And now, it's my turn.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 11:00 am (1/11/11 11:00), Verizon is holding a press event in New York, NY to make a big announcement. They haven't given any details as to what the event is about. Why would Verizon hold such an event after practically taking center stage at CES? The only reason is that it is announcing the iPhone on its network. This makes sense for two reasons:

  1. Apple isn't releasing a new product, like the rumored "iPhone 5", so it's not an Apple event. Otherwise, it would be held in San Francisco, CA.
  2. Apple has never attended CES, but instead, has always had its own press events held on its own terms. Preventing the announcement at CES is on par for the company.

So, want my take on the announcement? Big deal. Here's why:

Unfortunately for Apple, they won't be announcing any new hardware. It's the same iPhone 4 that is on AT&T's network. I highly doubt there will be a single specification change. Why should anyone purchase the same hardware, when there are much more capable phones out now, and coming out on a variety of carriers, including Motorola, HTC, Samsung, LG and others?

People jumped onto the iPhone bandwagon when it was announced on AT&T for two reasons: Apple fanboys and superior hardware. People getting an iPhone on the Verizon network will be: Apple fanboys.

I've heard the argument that people on the AT&T network would jump ship in a massive exodus to Verizon, given AT&T's struggle to keep a reliable network up. But, I don't buy it, because many of them are in contract and people aren't going to replace their existing iPhone 4, just to switch over (although some iPhone 3 users might for the upgrade). Is the Tuesday event going to make a splash? Sure, but in the "I told you so category". People will purchase the phone, and others will switch. But I'm not expecting a massive rush "just because". Even if Verizon offers some sort of coupon or discount for only current AT&T subscribers.

Further, rumors surround the Internet that Apple is expecting to push "iPhone 5", as well as the "iPad 2", but they wouldn't announce that at a Verizon event. It would be at an Apple event, as already mentioned, because of the new hardware. So, why would people get the iPhone 4, when it's successor is just around the corner, unless it's substantially cheaper?

There's far too much momentum behind Google's Android. If you kept an eye on CES, every network announced several Android devices, all over the hardware specification spectrum, and everyone except AT&T already has a serious Android lineup. Networks want more and more hardware choices for their consumers, and more and more hardware companies want Android. HTC and Motorola have invested heavily. This event will boost Apple shares for a week or two, and that's about the extent I'm willing to take it. There is just too much momentum behind Android right now.

Lastly, a lot of the "I want an iPhone, but I'll wait for it to come to [insert my favorite network here]" people have moved on. That ship has long sailed. I personally know of 3 people who waited for iPhone to come to Verizon, but the HTC Incredible and the Motorola Droid ended up being the better purchase, all of which absolutely love their phones. They're not the only ones. I've been reading it on the Internet for the past couple of years. Apple, you're just too late to the game; you waited too long for too many.

So, I'm not buying it; literally. I have the HTC Evo 4G, and it's head and shoulders over the iPhone 4. It's no contest, and it's already outdated hardware. Google brought me in. When it's time to upgrade, I'll be looking for another Android superphone to replace my Evo.

{ 10 } Comments

  1. Will using Google Chrome 8.0.552.231 on Mac OS | January 9, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Here's what you're not realizing: Most people don't give a damn about the hardware specifications. Regular people do not fall into the category of "superior hardware" or "Apple fanboys".

    I've used the HTC Evo and it's still no iPhone. It still confuses me that no company has come out with a touch screen as responsive as even the first iPhone. It's enough of a significant difference in responsiveness that I haven't bought a touch screen phone yet. Even with the Samsung Galaxy 2 or HTC Evo 4G there's still a slight delay from when you touch the screen to when it reacts.
    Android phones also haven't caught up to the iPhone in terms of apps. The hardware might be new, but the iPhone does a lot more because it has so many apps.
    Sure, the Verizon iPhone may not be the most exciting new Apple product ever to be announced, and I doubt people will switch carriers because of it, but you bet I'm getting the Verizon iPhone, and so will every other Verizon customer who's due for a new phone.

  2. Limon using Firefox 3.6.13 on Ubuntu 64 bits | January 9, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    "and so will every other Verizon customer who’s due for a new phone."

    Oh, well see? Then Android will die off and won't have a bigger market share later this year, right?

  3. YaManicKill using Debian IceWeasel 4.0b8 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | January 9, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I agree with you I think.

    Its not that you are saying normal people won't buy the iPhone because its not as good. I think what you are saying is that people who said that they would buy the iPhone when it became available on Verizon got bored and bought something else? Or they are tech-savy enough to know its not as good.

    Am I right? If so, I agree with you. Some people will buy it, but not people who said they'd buy the iPhone when it came on verizon.

  4. Aaron using Google Chrome 6.0.472.63 on GNU/Linux | January 9, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    @Will- I hate that stereotype. Because some people aren't computer scientists, they don't care about hardware specifications. Never mind the fact that plenty of non-geeks I talk to, including my own parents, care about the hardware they purchase, and what makes up the guts. Why does this stereotype exist in this culture? The reason Android is so successful, is because it can go on lower-end hardware platforms, AND PEOPLE KNOW IT. People don't want to shell out the money for superphones, because they know they won't take advantage of the hardware, and they know what's there.

    Also, what are you talking about with no touchscreen as responsive as the first iPhone? Are you talking about this: http://www.connectedinternet.co.uk/2010/01/11/how-to-test-a-smartphones-touchscreen/, because that's old news. Well over a year. I would be curious to see another accuracy report (I haven't seen one since). But, your claim that the Evo is no iPhone, you're absolutely right. Everything about it, except for the "Retina Display" and 300,000 apps in the App Store (versus 200,000 apps in the Android Market), is superior:

    * Better processor
    * More RAM
    * 8 MP rear-facing camera
    * 1.3 MP front-facing camera
    * 4.3" display
    * 4G/WiMax capable
    * Doesn't require WiFi for video chat
    * User-replaceable battery
    * User-replaceable MicroSD card
    * Fully customizable
    * Kickstand
    * Even with the extra $10/month for 4G coverage, you pay less for your monthly bill
    * Doesn't require iTunes
    * HDMI output
    * Noise cancellation microphone

    The iPhone 4 is outdated hardware. Heck, my Evo is only 6 months old, and it's outdated by the phones shown at CES.

    @YaManicKill- What I'm am saying is multifaceted. First, AT&T subscribers won't rush in a massive exodus to Verizon. They won't ditch they current iPhone for a new one (unless Apple pushes an update to the software that allows it on Verizon's network, or Verizon allows it somehow). Sure, new people will leave AT&T and go to Verzion, due to the issues AT&T has had with their network strain. But those will be small numbers. Existing Verizon customers out of contract will likely upgrade as well. What I'm not saying, is that Verizon won't see any sales with the announcement. OF COURSE THEY WILL. What I'm saying is the market is competitive, and there are plenty of reasons why not to make the jump.

    Second, Android saw 600% growth in 2010. The new customer smartphone market was clearly won by Google. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Market share shows Apple barely ahead of Android and Blackberry. In fact the numbers show that it's anyone's game for leading the market within a small margin of error. 25% for all three, and Apple's has been declining, both in terms of all around share, and new customer activations. The momentum going in to 2011 is Android. That much is clear. And with every major network offering several smartphones from low-end to high-end, you can bet the growth and momentum is going to continue. Verizon announcing the iPhone on their network isn't going to dent that at all. It would be like trying to stop an avalanche. It's just not happening.

    Lastly, because it won't be new hardware, people will wait for the rumored iPhone 5, which gives Android even more reason to snatch up new customers. Apple coming to Verizon is really, REALLY late to the game. Too late, I predict. Sure, you'll see sales. Apple stock will likely soar that day, and maybe Wednesday. AT&T might even see some of the strain off their network, and be able to provide more reliable service. But, it's not the Second Coming of Christ. It's not even the World Cup. It's barely an all-you-can eat buffet for free at Chuck-a-Rama.

  5. Ian Stoffberg using Google Chrome 8.0.552.224 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | January 10, 2011 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    My wife loves my Android phone, but would not be able to use it as effectively as she uses her iphone. Something about the way they implement services vs Android which confuses her.

    She LOVES the fact that she uses iTunes which probably is impossible for a Linux user to comprehend. She installs apps, syncs contacts & calendars via web services to her laptop & google account without my help. Given an andrdoid phone (I'm on my second one), she seems intimidated by the flexibility and customisation ability. It just does not suit her personality in some way. She envies some of the things I can do with my phone that she KNOWS she can't do, but she will probably go for the next iteration of the iPhone this year. She is still on an iPhone 3G. She had my old HTC Hero with Eclair (2.1) and liked it a lot, but was happy to go back to a SLOWER iphone. I don't argue anymore. Its not worth it.

    Regarding the Apps. In terms of Quality & Quantity, the iPhone is better supported IMO. Its a handful of apps that are better on the Android platform vs MANY more on the iPhone side. If I had to use an iPhone, I would probably jailbreak it to get root apps, in the same way that Titanium Backup, CIFSManager, etc, have become staples on my HTC Desire.

    To each his own, I guess. Sorry for the long post.

  6. Jimbo using Google Chrome 9.0.597.45 on Mac OS | January 10, 2011 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    I realise that my comment will show up as coming from a Mac user, and that I could therefore come across biased, but I want to address some of the things you seem to have gotten wrong.

    Firstly all the major tech sites I visit e.g. Engadget constantly talk about how even the most untechie Granny on the street who don't know anything about computers or phones, is always bugging them about when will the iPhone come to Verizon. Lea Laporte and Tom Merrit over at the Twit network say the same thing. They get pestered constantly by real end users who dont follow tech blogs. If you think Verizon iPhone is going to be a small sales bump for a few weeks you are very much mistaken. It is going to break sales records for Verizon all year long. You could make the cynical argument that the average end user is ill informed and only lusts after the iPhone because it is shiny and not because it is any better than the competition, but fact remains, for the average man and woman on the street the iPhone has all the mindshare and will sell by the bucket load on Verizon.

    And of course the Android phones being announced at CES are more powerful than the iPhone, but most of them won't be out for another 3 months at the earliest, by which time the iPhone 4 will be almost a year old. It is reasonable to assume that when the iPhone 5 comes out it will be on a par with the newest Android phones. Which is all besides the point anyway as consumers don't care about the specs running inside their phones. "Does it do the things I want my phone to do?" is all they care about.

    The arguments about Android the platform having lots of momentum is very true, but while Android might be the biggest mobile OS now, the iPhone remains the biggest selling individual handset by a huge percentage. There is the iPhone and then there is everyone else fighting over the Android pie. I think in the long term Apple is going to be completely content with making billions of dollars of profit from having the biggest selling handset in the world. And frankly, the idea that a single handset could have the biggest OS market share is crazy anyway. These arguments that Apple is doomed because its single handset won't control the entire market is foolish.

  7. Aaron using Google Chrome 10.0.612.3 on Mac OS | January 10, 2011 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    @Ian Stoffberg- To each their own. If your wife loves the iPhone, and can get around in it, and get what she needs done, then that's all that matters. There's no point in fighting about why some OS or some hardware sucks over another. I learned that years ago.

    @Jimbo- Look at this- I'm commenting from Mac OS X! Does this make me hypocritical? Listen, I never said that Apple is doomed, and if you think I meant that, you misread the post. I've made this analogy before, and I'll make it again: Apple is compared to a Mercedes Benz. They don't hold squat for market share, but they're still a Mercedes Benz. People will purchase Mercedes Benz, and they'll enjoy fat profits. But, the vast majority of the world will continue to purchase the Toyota, Honda, Ford and Chevrolet. This is the case for Apple. They hold about 10% of the desktop market, and their iPhone sales will continue to bring in fat profits for the company, even though their share will be small. But the vast majority of the world will see Android as the Toyotas and Hondas. However, the top-of-the-line Android could be comparable to a Lexus.

    At any event, the iPhone market share is shrinking, and will settle in to something like 10-15%. That's not a bad thing, it's just the nature of their company to not give a flying crap. They like controlling their hardware. They like controlling their software. They like controlling the consumer. It's working well for them, and the handful of Apple fanboys. For the rest of the world, it's choice that matters. Oh, and if you haven't figured out that Engadget is the biggest Apple fanboy of the Internet, you haven't been paying attention. They're bought and paid for by Apple.

    Anyway, sure, people want the iPhone. I didn't say that it wasn't desired. What I did say, is Verizon isn't going to see a mass exodus to their network, just because of the iPhone. The iPhone saturation has come and gone, and Verizon can't save it. They'll make sales, and you'll see stock soar for both companies for a day or two. Then it will settle back in the same old rhythm it's been all year. Verizon won't see record sales all year long. Maybe for a month or two. Max.

  8. Michael Butler using Google Chrome 8.0.552.224 on Windows 7 | January 12, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Great post. I think it and the follow up comments pretty much cover it, that Apple will always be aiming for, and dominating, a niche market. It's just what they excel at.

    I just want to add that I love your Browser and OS detection icons. I wish more tech blogs had that!

  9. Matthew Spiers using Google Chrome 6.0.472.63 on GNU/Linux | January 17, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    I like a lot of your posts, but I'm not a huge fan of this one (or your follow-ups). A good friend once advised me not to wear my politics on my sleeve.

  10. Aaron using Google Chrome 8.0.552.237 on Windows XP | January 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, this was an off-post, no doubt. I've had a few of them, if you dig deep through the archives, you'll find them. I was bracing for the Internet "OMG!" moment, and tried bringing some sanity back to the tubes. I over shot. Oh well. It happens to all of us.

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