What does the iPhone for Verizon mean to you?
With all the talk of the big Verizon announcement tomorrow regarding what everyone expects to be the launch of the iPhone on America’s largest wireless carrier, it’s easy to get caught up in all the hype and energy but not understand why. From my perspective, the iPhone on Verizon is going to have affects on the mass population, but little effect on current Verizon smartphone users.
Effect on Verizon:
While a lot of people have been hoping and waiting for Verizon to launch the iPhone since it’s introduction, there is a strong base of users who have latched onto the networks current alternatives; such as Android, WebOS, and Blackberry. More and more so users have transitioned to Android as their VZW smartphone operating system of choice, because of the hardware that Verizon has put out with its partners, and the marketing blitz that the Droid line has had behind it. Blackberry and WebOS users have been transitioning to Android and not really looking back. For these users I don’t see the iPhone having a huge effect. Brand loyalty is very big with Apple and “i” product users, but it is also big when it comes to other operating systems and products as well. As Android has developed, it has won over a lot of critics, and it continues to progress at an astonishing rate which is keeping more and more users interested and more users are becoming loyal to the Android brand. Yes, there will be some Blackberry and WebOS users that switch to the iPhone when it’s available for Verizon, but there won’t be a massive shift from Android to the iPhone. Where Verizon is likely to see the largest spike in users, is if from feature phones to the iPhone. The iPhone has captured the interest of the mass populous and users who don’t need a smart phone will gladly use an iPhone because they see them everywhere and they see their friends using them and they hear about them all the time.
Verizon can make up a lot of the ground it has lost to At&T over the past few years by simply converting 70% of their feature phone users over to the iPhone, which I believe most of them will gladly do.
Verizon may also win back some of the subscribers it has lost over the last few years to AT&T because some of those subscribers only left Verizon because they wanted the iPhone; once Verizon has it, a good percentage of those users should come back. Some of those subscribers will stay with AT&T because there is little to no benefit of switching carriers, and it becomes a matter of preference and convenience, basically “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Effect on Subscribers:
Where Verizon should gain subscribers and retain current subscribers, the major effect that the iPhone on their network may have will be to the subscribers themselves. Just as AT&T’s network has struggled with usage levels since the launch of the iPhone, Verizon’s network may now have to deal with the same struggles. Verizon is also at a bandwidth disadvantage because they already have a stable of web consuming phones including the Droid line, so adding another data hungry phone into the mix could push the network over its limits. Subscribers are going to have to deal with this possibility; data might slow down in higher volume areas and may drop off all together in other areas because people are consuming so much of it. Verizon has been building their network up and the upcoming offload to LTE will help, but that isn’t in the near enough future to factor in, not only because the iPhone doesn’t appear to be LTE capable, but because LTE capable devices are still months away and the service footprint isn’t large enough to have enough users switch onto it yet to cause a large enough drop in CDMA consumption.
The other side of this from a subscriber front, is that other companies (like Motorola, HTC and Samsung) will be more motivated to have higher powered devices with more frequently updated software on Verizons network to combat loss of sales to the iPhone. This could, in reality, be a big win for Android users who have been at the whim of their hardware manufacturers to provide software updates to their phones, with a new high-profile smartphone to compete with those same manufacturers are now going to have a much bigger reason to update their software more rapidly, than just because end users demand it.
In the end, all of this is speculation; the iPhone may have no effect on Verizon or it’s network. The iPhone may have no effect on subscribers or service quality, and other OS’s and hardware manufacturers may continue on unaffected. We’re all going to have to wait and see, but once Verizon does launch the iPhone, a whole new battle of what networks can / can’t do will start appearing on TV’s and online, and bloggers and media will have new things to quarrel about…
Until the next iPhone “Killer” comes along.