Verizon's HTC ThunderBolt, iPhone 4 Are Causes for Conversation: Report

The HTC ThunderBolt and Apple iPhone 4 were major winners for Verizon during its fiscal first quarter. New data offers a glimpse at what's behind their success.

People are talking about the HTC ThunderBolt on the Verizon Wireless network.

According to SocialNuggets, a provider of "market intelligence" that it culls from various social-media sources, scores for the ThunderBolt have been rising regarding both it "Net Perception," or how many more positive than negative sentiments are being chattered about it, and its Social Nuggets Index-a measure that combines its Net Perception score and a "Share of Voice" parameter that measures mentions instead of sentiment.

SocialNuggets also breaks down the social conversation, as it were, to show which features are being talked about most.

The HTC ThunderBolt "does very well in the battery life, service provider (thanks to Verizon), and its overall body design," the company shared in an April 19 blog post. "It does OK for connectivity, while we would have expected it to perform better on that matrix since it has most of the connectivity features and certainly better than Apple iPhone 4, which performed poorly on that matrix.

The ThunderBolt scored a high .20 regarding its battery life and operating system, respectively, and a 0.15 for connectivity on the SocialNuggets Index, according to March 2011 data. By comparison, people were talking more about the iPhone 4's hardware and service provider. It scored a 0.24 on the former, a 0.12 on the latter, and a 0.08 regarding connectivity.

"[The] iPhone 4 does very well in the overall hardware feature compared to others and also does better in Customer Service (thanks to Apple Stores), Reliability and Performance," the company explained in an April 18 blog post. "However, Connectivity (lack of 4G, HDMI), Body Design and Camera certainly drag its sentiment down. Since the availability of iPhone 4 in Verizon, we have seen its Service Provider feature improve but there are still lot of negative issues that pop up in the discussions from network issues with AT&T where the majority of iPhone customers still are."

When Verizon Wireless introduced the HTC ThunderBolt, its first 4G smartphone to take advantage of its 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network, it boldly priced it at $250-$51 higher than just about every high-end smartphone on the market, including Verizon's 16GB iPhone 4.

In fairness, the HTC handset comes with a preinstalled 32GB microSD card, and both AT&T and Verizon price their 32GB iPhone 4s at $299. There's also, of course, its 4G capabilities.

Still, in this game there is the iPhone and there is everything else. Verizon's gamble appears to have paid off, however. During Verizon's April 21 earnings call, CFO Fran Shammo said that during the quarter, 54 percent of Verizon's new customer additions came thanks to the iPhone 4 and the ThunderBolt.

AT&T, which like T-Mobile offers the HSPA+ flavor of 4G, offers the 4G-enabled Motorola Atrix and T-Mobile offers the myTouch 4G smartphone. Sprint, whose 4G is based on WiMax technology, offers a slew of 4G handsets, including the HTC Evo 4G and Samsung Epic 4G.

There have been debates, presented ad nauseam, regarding what constitutes 4G and a true 4G phone, as well as accusations about whether 4G devices are being sold without 4G networks turned on. (We're looking at you, AT&T.)

Verizon believes the ThunderBolt is above such chatter.

"This is a true 4G device. You can put as much lipstick on 3 to make it a 4, but this is truly a 4G device with the speeds of 4G, and I think people are impressed and people will make their decisions," Verizon's Shammo said during the carrier's earnings call. "Out of the gate, we're very happy with the volume."