As I sat in the theater Jan. 11, which is totally appropriate considering I was listening to the dramatic flourish that was Verizon Wireless' support for Apple's iPhone 4, I couldn't help but think with each passing data nail driven home about how the launch on Verizon would affect Google's Android platform.
Verizon has more than 93 million wireless customers, but how many are itching for an iPhone?My empirical data suggests a lot. I've received a lot of questions from friends and acquaintances about it. Now, I have an answer: Feb. 10 for $199.99 on contract (16GB).
The same platform that through November passed Apple iOS in U.S. smartphone market share -- 26 percent to 25 percent -- is in for a turnabout-is-fair-play scenario.
Android for the last 8 months crept up on iOS market share. The clock will begin ticking on the reversal of this trend, starting Feb. 10 when Verizon begins selling the iPhone 4 to all takers. Analysts expect anywhere from 9 million to 15 million unit sales.
Is that a disaster for Android? No, but it could be seriously detrimental to Verizon's Droid unit shipments if nothing else.
We know that Samsung sold 10 million-plus total Galaxy S Android handsets to this point. We don't know how many Droids Verizon has sold (it won't say) in 2010, but I'm sure it's at least 10 million.
If Verizon sells 10 million iPhones in 2011--that's the conservative model--it will surely cannibalize Droid sales on Verizon.
Unless, of course, a whole lot more people ditch feature phones for smartphones (this has been the trend) and a lot of them pick Android handsets.
That's the great thing! We just don't know how it will shake out. There are a lot of variables.
For all I know, more discerning customers may be waiting for Apple iPhone 5 on AT&T, or Verizon customers want to wait for a 4G LTE iPhone, which Apple COO Tim Cook said wasn't happening because Apple didn't want to sacrifice design.
What's the about anyway?
Finally, I was surprised to learn at the event yesterday from Verizon President and COO Lowell McAdam (pictured right) that Verizon's negotiation with Apple over the iPhone began in earnest in 2008.
Specifically, Verizon Wireless in 2008 held technical discussions on bringing iPhone to Verizon's CDMA network.
Then they spent a year testing it, which means 2009, which is when McAdam was also pushing the Droid out with Google and hardware makers Motorola and HTC.
Cleverly, McAdam and his cagey team were playing both sides of the fence, as any smart carrier looking to put out products that people want should.
In 2010, with Android gobbling RIM and Apple's market share, Verizon Wireless launched the iPad, which helped employees become familiar to Apple's works.
Now it's 2011 and I can't wait to see not only how Verizon iPhone 4 will affect Android, and whether this will force carriers to cut costs on Android handsets to compete with the iPhone.
And I'm not talking about the 1 penny Droid sales from Amazon Wireless to make room for new Android phones. I'm talking about new devices at discounted prices.
Maybe the Motorola Droid Bionic will start at $149, instead of its likely $199 to $249 price tag to justify the dual-core offering.
What do you think?