Apple iPhone Users Want Verizon: Survey

Apple iPhone users are interested in switching carriers, according to a new Deloitte survey, which found nearly half of respondents wanted to jump from AT&T to Verizon.

Nearly half of Apple iPhone users would be interested in switching to Verizon, if and when the smartphone breaks from currently exclusive carrier AT&T. That's according to a new survey by professional services firm Deloitte, which also found a slim majority of respondents were uninterested in buying an iPad.

Around 41 percent of the 2,000 U.S. customers surveyed by Deloitte reported using their smartphone as a laptop replacement while on the road, according to Reuters, while 55 percent reported a lack of interest in owning an iPad. But the majority of buzz around the survey seems to focus on respondents' willingness to jump carriers.

"If another carrier were to pick up the iPhone, you would probably see a number of defections," Ed Moran, director of insights and product innovation at Deloitte, is quoted as saying.

The Deloitte survey echoes results from others, notably Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster's small September survey of Minneapolis cell phone users. Munster concluded that the iPhone's non-presence on Verizon "is actually the most significant factor limiting demand."

Barclays Capital analyst James Ratcliffe suggested in a June research note that between 500,000 and 1 million AT&T customers could jump to Verizon's network, should the latter obtain the iPhone. Ratcliffe also felt that the initial Verizon iPhone would not be Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G capable, despite Verizon's continuing development of that standard for its networks.

The "iPhone would be a plus for Verizon, but not a seismic industry change, given the relative stickiness of smartphone customers," Ratcliffe wrote in his note. "[The] primary source of Verizon iPhone [subscribers] would be pent-up demand by existing Verizon [subscribers]." Because of that, he predicted, the number of postpaid Verizon subscribers would only increase by 900,000 in 2011.

Rumors have circulated for months that the iPhone could migrate to a competing carrier, including Verizon or T-Mobile, by early 2011. Despite its exclusive lock on the iPhone in the United States, AT&T's recent 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission suggests the carrier could be preparing to lose its lock on the device.

For its part, AT&T seems relatively sanguine about the chances of losing its grip on the iPhone-at least in public.

"If you look at the iPhone base, about 80 [percent] is either on a family-talk plan or in a business relationship with us," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson reportedly told a Goldman Sachs investor conference Sept. 21. "Those customers tend to be very sticky. They don't churn very frequently."