Analyst: Verizon needs the iPhone, and soon

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from Omaha, NE
Published: December 13, 2010

iPhone v. Verizon smartphone growth

With the crazy Android sales on Verizon, you wouldn't expect anyone to say that the carrier needs the iPhone, but that's what one analyst seems to be saying with his new report.  Horace Dediu at Asymco has analyzed some sales numbers from ITG Investment and claims that Verizon has three strikes against them right now that show that they could use Apple's iDevice: the iPhone is stunting Verizon's growth, Google is slowly becoming Verizon's only major OS supplier, and Android is not competitive enough to fend off the iPhone on AT&T.  For the first point, Dediu claims that, compared to the iPhone's growth, Verizon's numbers have been growing slower.  For example, from Q1 to Q3, Verizon's sales went from 2.7 million to 3.3 million, while the iPhone jumped from 2.7 million to 5.5 million in the same time frame.  Dediu also points to a chart showing that in August, when the iPhone 4 availability increased, all smartphone manufacturers on Verizon started seeing sales shrink.

Dediu's second point is that Android (and Windows Mobile) make up a majority of Verizon's smartphone sales and that Big Red is putting all of their eggs into the basket of an OS supplier that may not always follow Verizon's core plans for profits.  If Google does change their strategy, which could happen on a whim, Verizon may be out of luck.

Finally, Dediu believes that Android is "barely enough" to keep Verizon's battle with AT&T from being completely one-sided, as evidenced by the Verizon sales numbers mentioned earlier.  In the third quarter, the iPhone alone sold 2.5 times more than all of Verizon's Android and WM smartphones according to the ITG statistics.

If the ITG numbers are accurate, then this analysis is an interesting peek into the Android v. iOS war that's been raging.  Verizon offers one of the more fleshed-out Android offerings around, with a lineup that consists of many high-end, lustworthy devices.  To think that the iPhone 4 alone sold 2.5 times more than all of those handsets combined, though, is pretty surprising.  If things continue like they have been, I wouldn't be surprised to see AT&T overtake Verizon as the country's largest carrier (ATT was around 2 million subs below Verizon in Q3), all the more reason why Verizon could use an iPhone to call their own.  While it's tough to predict exactly how large an impact a Verizon iPhone will have on the market, it seems clear that it'll effect both Verizon and Apple positively.  Android, at least on VZW, may not be so lucky.

Verizon smartphone OS sales

Via 9to5Mac, Asymco