Until February of this year, AT&T had free reign over iPhone customers here in the States. They have been the only carrier to officially offer the original iPhone, iPhone 3G and 3Gs, and were the only carrier to offer the iPhone 4 until recently, when it hit Verizon's shelves.
The CDMA iPhone was one of the most rumored and most highly anticipated devices to date. It had been slipping in and out of headlines nearly every month for the past few years. As the rumors became more frequent and concrete, many believed that this particular phone spelled some sort of doom for the likes of AT&T, especially considering their customer satisfaction has seen better days.
AT&T, who had been preparing for this all along, started putting plans in motion to experiment with other platforms like Windows Phone 7 and Android. Many saw this as a signal of them losing exclusivity and bracing for a rather large blow.
However, February came and so did the Verizon iPhone 4. That day has long passed and we're all fine, including AT&T. They just posted their Q1 results for this year, and things are still strong on AT&T's side of the fence. So why exactly did the CDMA iPhone have that little impact on AT&T?
There are actually several reasons. Most importantly, time was an issue. The original iPhone 4 was released in June of last year. Seven months later, the same exact phone (save for the redesigned antenna and lack of a SIM card slot) was released on Verizon. At that time, rumors of the next generation iPhone getting pushed back to September were just starting. Barring those rumors are false, the next generation iPhone – presumably the iPhone 5 or 4GS – should make it to market by the end of this summer.
I'm positive that a good amount of iPhone users on AT&T were considering taking the plunge and moving over to Big Red. But considering how long it took the iPhone to reach Verizon after the original was released, the majority of them stayed. The same goes for new customers. With a new iPhone – possibly sporting a larger display or new design – on the horizon and the current one seemingly “old news,” a vast majority of prospect buyers are playing the waiting game.
Another reason the Verizon iPhone didn't have quite the impact we expected is because Verizon's strong Android push. We know Verizon feels solely responsible for Android's success and it has undoubtedly become their money maker. Aside from tech blogs around the web, the Verizon iPhone got very little face time (no pun intended) in comparison to the Droid adverts.
And let's not forget LTE. There is already one Android device capable of accessing Verizon's amazingly fast LTE network and at least three more on their way. The VeriPhone is stuck on those painfully slow CDMA 3G speeds and there is even talk that the successor will be missing the LTE radio. This is the year of 4G and people want their LTE. This is evidenced by the ThunderBolt supposedly outselling the iPhone in numerous locations.
If the CDMA iPhone had come in a more timely manner or with LTE capabilities, I imagine it would have had a greater impact on Ol' Blue. Instead, Apple made us wait several years through relentless rumors only to release their new phone at the most inconvenient time possible.