Verizon is the chief reason Android market share has soared in 2010. In November 2009, Verizon launched the first Motorola Droid, and quickly sold more than 1 million units for the holiday season backed by an anything but robotic marketing campaign on TV and on billboards in New York City. Verizon would go on to launch several more Droids.
Motorola has staked its future on Android. The company’s handset sales had been floundering for years in the wake of missed opportunities and poor device design. That changed when the company embraced Android. In its most recent quarter, Motorola posted a $109 million profit and said it shipped 3.8 million smartphones, with consumers choosing among 22 devices for 2010. Most of those shipped were some sort of Droid device, the Droid, Droid 2 or Droid X. When the iPhone comes to Verizon it will surely put a crimp on Motorola’s handset sales.
With Android, Samsung started slow but came on strong, launching 5 Samsung Galaxy S Android handsets that sold more than 5 million units over the summer. Those devices may have gleaned the success they were meant to have, but Samsung has future Android handsets in the works, including the rumored Nexus Two. Will that device have a chance versus the iPhone on Verizon? Samsung is also building Windows Phone 7 devices, which leads to the next dilemma.
Microsoft has bet its mobile future on its Windows Phone 7 platform after Windows Mobile sustained serious market share losses to iPhone and Android in recent years. Windows Phone 7 smartphones are launching on AT&T and T-Mobile in the next two weeks. Will Microsoft build enough momentum to matter before the Verizon iPhone appears?
What effect will the Verizon iPhone have on AT&T? This is the most interesting story. Verizon is the No. 1 network, with 93 million customers. AT&T, to this point the exclusive iPhone carrier, is No. 2 with 92.8 million subscribers. Verizon could be getting the iPhone just in time to retain its No. 1 crown.