There is a delicious piece of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) being circulated that I can't ignore from Eric Raymond in his blog last week.
Seizing on an Associated Press article in which AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said the company will start "very aggressively" marketing smart phones based on the Google Android operating system, Raymond claims the "iPhone brand is in worse shape than I thought was even possible."
He directs us to the AP's detail that AT&T signed up only 400,000 new customers on contract-based wireless plans in the last three months of last year as evidence that the iPhone is in trouble.
Moreover, alluding to Verizon Wireless' iPhone 4, which rolls out Feb. 10, that "Verizon may have just bought the biggest bag of 'substanceless' hype and wind Steve Jobs has ever peddled while AT&T snickers behind its hand."
Actually, AT&T may have seen flagging sales in the last quarter because of the iPhone coming to Verizon.
Consider that the media, emboldened by people positioned in the know such as Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, have been talking about the iPhone coming to Verizon in early 2011 for the last several months.
Now, they needn't wait long. Hell or high water, it's coming next week. Moreover, the demand is already more than Verizon can handle. (Verizon stopped taking pre-orders), and yet Raymond claims "we can expect Verizon's iPhone sales to be anemic."
What?! Munster and others are conservatively estimating 9 to 10 million Verizon iPhones to ship this year. My estimate is it will be about 15 million.
I would argue the arrival of the Verizon iPhone is a big reason AT&T is hawking 12 Android smartphones this year, including the really great Atrix 4G, which I played with at CES last month.
It's a sweet device, notwithstanding the $500 price tag if you get it with the docking station when it's available next month. No thanks. I'd rather buy an Atrix 4G and a netbook for that scratch.
Regardless, Android is the leading U.S. smartphone platform as I write this. It's a proven platform, so AT&T would be foolish not to embrace it. The arrival of the Verizon iPhone makes it all the more imperative for AT&T to get on the Android train.
What I'd like to know is since when did Apple and its iPhone get relegated to Nokia Symbian status in this country? Somebody, please tell me.
Apple is still the dominant smartphone in the U.S., selling tens of millions for the year, 16.24 million in the holiday quarter alone.
Android may lead by sheer volume, but as a singular device, unless Apple's quality falls off a cliff, the iPhone is America's smartphone of choice. Like it or not. Don't underestimate it.
P.S. I am a happy user of the Android-based Motorola Droid X.