News Analysis: The long-awaited Verizon announcement will expand Apple's market share and bring relief to beleaguered iPhone users who want access to a 4G wireless network.
With Apple's iPhone market share threatened by Android's
growing popularity and by the steadily deteriorating service of AT&T's
overburdened 3G system, Verizon Wireless will finally get a chance to show what
the iPhone can do on its network.
The iPhone that the carrier is expected to introduce Jan.
11 in New York
after months of speculation and anticipation won't support
Verizon's LTE, but it will take advantage of the vast spread and capacity of
Verizon's existing 3G network.
There are still a number of questions about exactly what
configuration the new Verizon Wireless iPhone will support, but it appears now
that the ability to support LTE will have to wait for the iPhone 5, due this
The fact that Verizon Wireless would in fact get the
iPhone was originally confirmed to eWEEK in an interview with regional
in an exclusive interview in June 2010. At the time, Verizon
Wireless had yet to announce its LTE plans.
The announcement of the Verizon Wireless iPhone follows
several preliminary moves by Verizon and by AT&T, the carrier that was
originally given the exclusive rights to market the iPhone. First, Verizon
Wireless has delivered its 4G network on time, and to more cities than
originally announced. This means that at least some of the demand for
high-speed data on its network is being handled by its LTE network, allowing
more capacity for 3G devices.
AT&T, meanwhile, announced a dozen new Android
devices at the recent Consumer Electronics Show
, it's started calling its
HSPA+ network "4G," and it's giving every indication of looking for
life beyond the iPhone. A major announcement on new products from Motorola
stands out, especially considering that Motorola previously was the
near-exclusive home of Verizon Android devices.
It's also worth noting that Apple has been dismantling
exclusivity arrangements globally. When I was in Germany
in late November, for example, the iPhone was already available from three
carriers. A few months before that, T-Mobile (DE) was the exclusive carrier.
This same trend is happening elsewhere in Europe, where
rules on competition are a little stricter than in the United
States. But it's clear that once the trend
to end exclusivity started, it would continue.
Add to that the juggernaut that the Android
has become. Lately, Android phones of all sorts are starting
to outsell the iPhone, they're available from a variety of carriers, and for
carriers claiming 4G connectivity, they're basically the only game in