(Quote:Jim "Say this Ain't So !" )
While the iPhone is a really nice device, I don't believe this will be the case for Android if and when the iPhone comes to VZW. How about the rest of you? Come on, chime in on this one people !
October 15, 2010
The short story of where we are at the end of 2010 in the smartphone world is this: Apple offered the not-yet-launched iPhone exclusively to Verizon, who turned it down, and so Apple gave the iPhone exclusively to AT&T. The iPhone became a massive hit, which had Verizon regretting having turned it down – and AT&T regretting the negative impact all those millions of iPhones had on its cellular network. Verizon reacted by launching a competing psuedo-iPhone based on the Android operating system, which was no more designed for consumer usage than Linux on the desktop, but it was the best available so Verizon went with it (and so did Sprint, for that matter). Verizon’s Android-based phone, dubbed the Droid, sold well to those Verizon users who had wanted the iPhone but couldn’t get one through their carrier. That motivated Apple to get out of its exclusivity deal with AT&T, which AT&T was growing wary of anyway, and make plans to launch the iPhone on Verizon in early 2011 alongside the existing AT&T iPhone. And that gets us up to where we are now.
What happens next? Geeks who love the Android platform as much as they love their Linux will tell you that the Droid has already won. Verizon has shown that many or most mainstream folks would rather settle for a smartphone they don’t want (or sit pat for years with no smartphone at all) than switch to a carrier they don’t like in order to get the smartphone they do want. They’ll argue that Apple is only expanding the iPhone to multiple carriers in order to slow down Droid sales. And to an extent they’re right. The flaw in that argument, of course, is that with the iPhone’s arrival on Verizon, those same mainstream folks now have the option between the phone they actually want the phone they had up until now only been considering because it appeared to be a close-ish approximation of the phone they want. Given those two choices, it’s nearly a given that Verizon customers will opt for the phone they actually want. In the case of Verizon-using geeks, that’ll be the Droid. In the case of mainstream Verizon users, it’ll be the iPhone.
Which group is larger? Well, there’s a reason why they call it the mainstream. Mainstream Verizon customers who’ve spent 2010 debating whether to buy a Droid or wait for a possible Verizon iPhone will now opt for the Verizon iPhone. Some mainstream Verizon customers who’ve already bought a Droid but wanted an iPhone will now move to the iPhone once they’re ready for a new phone, while some others will decide they’re already far enough down that road in terms of Droid apps and such that they’ll choose to remain on it. But Droid users are nearly all on their first Droid, most of them having bought first one this year, which means they’re not nearly as entrenched in the Droid platform so as to be unwilling to walk away in favor of the Verizon iPhone they wanted all along.
If Apple had waited another year or two, and a Verizon iPhone might have had a significantly harder time gaining traction. Then again, a year or two ago, a Verizon iPhone would have had no competition at all. As it stands, the Verizon iPhone won’t claim all Verizon customers when it launches in early 2011, but it’ll claim most of the ones who ever had an interest in the iPhone in the first place. By the time it’s said and done, only the geeks will still be clinging to their Verizon Droid in large numbers; if anything, the largest concentration of remaining Android users will be with Sprint – and there’s nothing to say Apple can’t expand the iPhone in that direction as well, down the road. Just as long as it doesn’t wait too long.