How does the Verizon iPhone affect Android and AT&T?

January 11, 2011: 12:09 PM ET

With the launch of the Verizon iPhone now official, many are wondering how Verizon's other popular platform, Android, will fare.


Verizon's (VZ) iPhone was launched today by two number twos, Apple (AAPL) COO Tim Cook and Verizon heir apparent Lowell McAdam. The iPhone 4 is very similar to the current bestseller on GSM with some antenna design changes. Also, it won't allow simultaneous data and voice use, like other CDMA phones. It will be available in February and will also include a five-node hotspot, which I believe is a global first for the iPhone.

So there are two main types of iPhone customers: the pragmatic, budget-conscious type and the Apple Fanboy/Big Budget variety.

The budget-conscious Verizon customer will likely wait until the iPhone 5 arrives in four months (Apple traditionally releases new phones once a year, in June/July).  Verizon doesn't offer an upgrade path to the iPhone 5 and customers will have to purchase the new phone outright while keeping their current iPhone in the summer.  If I were an AT&T (T) customer who wanted to switch to Verizon, I'd likely suck it up until summer if I leave at all. My early termination fee will be slightly more bearable at that point.

That being said, I am sure there will be lines around the corner for the Verizon iPhone. There are three years of pent-up demand about to be unleashed and there are plenty of people who have been waiting for the day to drop AT&T or who can't use AT&T in the area where they live.

Some of these customers are going to be Android buyers, but most won't.

First of all, there are plenty of Android customers on AT&T, and AT&T has finally started to market their Android lineup, starting with CES last week. Samsung sold a million Galaxy S phones on AT&T and T-Mobile in a matter of weeks. Samsung's Fascinate on Verizon is the stinker of the Galaxy S line and they've managed to sell four million Galaxies last year in the U.S. Android can compete head to head with the iPhone.

And that was last year. Motorola (MMI), Samsung, HTC, LG and Sony (SNE) announced a pretty impressive array of Android phones at this year's CES.  Android competes pretty well internationally in iPhone, non carrier-exclusive countries.

As for Verizon, they have at least four different LTE 4G phones coming alongside the 3G iPhone.  All of them have much bigger screens and some even have dual core processors that can power laptops. With data and hotspots becoming a bigger part of the smartphone package, the LTE advantage should play well for Android.

There is also the low cost Android factor.  Most Galaxy phones can be found for free on any carrier with a plan while the iPhone will be $200-$300.  Android also does well on pre-paid carriers like Sprint's (S) MVNO partners Virgin, Boost and Cricket as well as the pre-paid areas of Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.

AT&T is obviously the biggest loser in the wake of today's announcement. They've been riding the iPhone exclusivity arrangement too hard, instead of fixing their network (they rank lowest among the big four carriers by Consumer Reports), marketing their other devices (in stores and out) and offering choices to iPhone users (tethering was a year late, no hotspot, etc).  It will be interesting to see how they react.

AT&T counters with this statement: For iPhone users who want the fastest speeds, the ability to talk and use internet at the same time, and unsurpassed global coverage, the only choice is AT&T.

I expect them to lose market share throughout the year and to take second place at the iPhone 5 launch this summer.

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About This Author
Seth Weintraub
Seth Weintraub

Google went from searching the Web to worming its way into nearly every facet of business and government. Seth Weintraub unveils where the company is going, who it's competing with, who it's about to compete with and how market forces push the company to veer or adhere to its Don't Be Evil motto. For 15 years, Weintraub was a global IT director for a number of companies before becoming a blogger.

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