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It’s official — Verizon has the iPhone

By: 11 January 2011 One Comment

For the past couple of days, we’ve tracked the rumor that Verizon would soon be able to make the Apple iPhone available to its customers.

That’s no longer a rumor. Indeed, Verizon held a press conference this morning and announced the iPhone will be available through the carrier on Feb. 10 and put up a page allowing interested customers to reserve a phone immediately. And, yes, the price of the iPhone 4 through Verizon is right in line with what AT&T currently charges — $199 for customers willing to go under contract for two years.

As we’ve pointed out here on First Arkansas News over the past couple of days, the move makes a lot of sense. Verizon has wanted the iPhone for awhile and Apple needs to expand in order to compete with the growing popularity of Android-powered phones.

And, of course, there’s a very loud group of iPhone fans who have griped about AT&T’s service since the company became the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in 2007. So this is where the so-called “cell phone wars” get interesting.

We’ll see a lot of questions answered in the wake of Verizon’s announcement — some sooner and some later. One of the immediate questions disgruntled AT&T fans will have is how much will it cost to switch to Verizon? The short answer to that question is to read that AT&T contract and see how much the termination fee is while the most convenient answer is to use this handy widget to get a rough idea.

Another question, of course, is whether the Verizon network will actually be better than the one AT&T iPhone customers use now. Will Verizon be “good” enough to cause AT&T customers to switch or will AT&T be to keep the iPhone users it has? Is that merely a matter of the grass being greener on the other side or will there be a noticeable difference between the two carriers? That question’s a  little trickier to answer, of course, but we do know this — the iPhone will not run on Verizon’s LTE 4G network, at least for the time being. That means we’re looking at 3G speeds, so the question becomes a matter of reliability and coverage — will complaining AT&T users notice an improvement after they cough up that hefty fee to switch to Verizon?

AT&T claims that Verizon’s 3G network is the slower of the two, but that’s to be expected. What is known is that iPhone users won’t be able to simultaneously use voice and date on Verizon’s CDMA 3G network, but how much of a problem is that to most users?

An additional question — and one that Apple is probably interested in more than just about anyone else — is whether the new deal with Verizon will allow the iPhone to compete effectively against the increasingly successful Android in the so-called smartphone market. Both Apple and Verizon would love to expand their presence in the market, so will this merger allow both companies to do that? Only time will tell.

Finally, how will AT&T respond to competition for iPhone fans? Last month, Consumer Reports reported that AT&T ranked dead last in customer satisfaction among cell phone users.  Obviously, some of AT&T’s disgruntled customers will take a hard look at Verizon in the very near future. What, then, will AT&T do to make customers happy? Will the company do anything at all? The popularity of the Android was enough to topple the once dominant iPhone last year and it doesn’t appear — on the surface — that AT&T put up much of a response at all except to get a few Android phones (a couple of good ones and the shockingly awful Sony Ericsson Xperia X10), work closely in the promotion and development of the Blackberry Torch and add the heavily marketed new Microsoft Windows Phone.

But we were talking about phones powered by the Google Android operating system then and things have changed for AT&T quite a bit with this announcement. AT&T activated 11.1 million iPhones last year and has clearly centered a lot of its business plan around being the exclusive iPhone carrier. In fact, iPhone sales represented 65 percent of all smartphone sales for AT&T last quarter. The exclusivity is gone, so what’s next for AT&T?

Today’s announcement from Verizon was a big deal, but it may look minor compared to what will happen when the significance of the announcement is made clear.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email =

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