Does Verizon really 'need' the iPhone?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: December 13, 2010

Talk of the Verizon iPhone isn't waning any as 2011 approaches. People have been dreaming of an iPhone 4 with a big red check mark on it for years, and as we get closer to what may be the release of such a mythical device, the jive and anticipation only grows. A recent analyst report states that Verizon needs the iPhone and soon. While I agree with some of the analyst's points, I don't think Verizon needs the iPhone any more than the iPhone needs Verizon.

The numbers given showed that AT&T's iPhone sales went from 2.7 million to 5.5 million between Q1 and Q3 while Verizon's sales went from 2.7 million to only 3.3 million, both showing significant growth. However, AT&T's growth is substantially bigger. The sales peak for AT&T and iPhone didn't start until Q2, meaning the increase in sales were undoubtedly due to the iPhone 4 release. The thing is, a new iPhone only comes once per year. Android devices are released nearly every month on one carrier or another. When a highly rumored and anticipated device launches, sales are bound to jump and slowly decline shortly thereafter. My point is, an AT&T iPhone sales chart looks like one large wave, where the Verizon sales chart looks like a bunch of tiny waves, and they probably meet somewhere near the middle. Since the latter part of this assumption is months ahead of us and the market is about as predictable as the weather this year, I have no idea how it will play out. Nor does anyone else, for that matter.

If it weren't for Android, Verizon would be hurting, still selling BlackBerry, webOS, and Windows Mobile, none of which are very popular at the moment. But that isn't the case. For over a year now, Verizon has been nurturing its bread and butter, which has grown into a worldwide sensation. They've even gone as far as to claim Android's success was their own fault. Even with Verizon doing just fine with Android, the iPhone sales over on Ol' Blue's network have been stealing from their glory, making their sales look less impressive.

While Verizon has been growing the roots for Android, AT&T has been coasting. Sailing the same ship they've been sailing since '07, AT&T is just now starting to broaden their horizons with Windows Phone 7 and Android. Their iPhone exclusivity is coming to an end, and once it finally does, they may be in trouble. A Consumer Reports survey and even our own poll results show what customers truly think of AT&T, and without iPhone exclusivity, people may be taking off to a new carrier, iPhone in hand.

The iPhone, if it comes to Verizon, will definitely stunt the number of Android handsets they move, but I don't think Google has anything to worry about at this point. I highly doubt Big Red would turn down another chance with the iPhone, but I don't believe they absolutely need it. There is more to this story than sales numbers and market trends. Customer satisfaction apparently goes a long way in the mobile world, and Big Red seems to be on the good side of many customers, iPhone or not.

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