Current iPhone Owners Itching to Switch to Verizon
If Apple wants to protect its market share, it really has no choice but to expand the availability of its devices. This is especially true given the poor performance of AT&T's overburdened 3G network. It was never up to the demands of the data-hungry iPhone population, and it only got worse. There are millions of would-be and current iPhone users out there who will switch in a heartbeat or finally buy one once there's a choice of carriers. Verizon Wireless, meanwhile, has built out the most ubiquitous wireless network in the United States. It may not have the fastest 3G coverage on the planet, but it has it in more places by a substantial margin. Likewise, its voice service is available nearly everywhere, including rural areas. This is something that AT&T has yet to accomplish, despite its claims to the contrary.There's also some speculation as to the radio support that the Verizon Wireless iPhone will have. Some have suggested that it will be just a CDMA version of the existing iPhone 4, with no other changes. Others have suggested that it will be a dual-mode phone capable of supporting CDMA and GSM, allowing the device to work globally. The latter would simplify the manufacturing process for Apple; the company would only have to make one phone for everyone. Making a world phone would also fit some of Verizon's previous smartphone releases. The idea apparently being that if you can sell an executive a single phone that will work anywhere, you're more likely to keep them as a customer. There's merit to this argument, but whether it will happen is, at this point, pure speculation. On the other hand, Apple's current practice of doing away with exclusive agreements also supports the idea of a dual-mode device. With the right radios, the same phone could also be sold to T-Mobile and Sprint as well as smaller regional carriers, giving the company even more market share, and yet another front in the fight against Android. Again, some of this is pure speculation. I'm expecting a CDMA phone in the announcement and maybe a dual-mode phone when the iPhone 5 is announced. But I'm prepared to be surprised.
So Tuesday's announcement of a Verizon Wireless iPhone is really a must for Apple, and a very nice thing for Verizon, which was already kicking AT&T to the side of the road and now will be able to do it more effectively. When the LTE iPhone 5 is announced this summer, both companies will get the device, but only Verizon Wireless will actually have a network to support it. AT&T's network will be in its formative stages, but unless you live in one of the lucky areas, you're going to be stuck with AT&T's 3G network regardless of your phone's 4G support.