The rumor of a Verizon iPhone is one that has been both pervasive and persistent for years. If and when Verizon finally offers the Apple iPhone, though, it could have a serious impact on both AT&T and the rise of Android.
AppleInsider reports that a survey by Credit Suisse finds that 23 percent of existing iPhone users would jump ship and switch to Verizon if it offered the iPhone. That means a potential loss of almost one and a half million customers for AT&T as soon as its exclusivity arrangement with Apple ends.
The same survey reports that as many as eight million current Verizon subscribers would jump on the iPhone bandwagon if it offered the iPhone. As successful as Android smartphones such as the Droid, Droid Incredible, Droid X, and Droid 2 have been with Verizon, eight million is probably as many Verizon subscribers as all of those combined--and then some.
Actually, though, the broader availability of the iPhone is probably more concern for Android than for AT&T. AT&T is going to get the Windows Phone 7 smartphones ahead of Verizon, so it will have another exclusive advantage over its wireless rival--no matter how temporary. AT&T can also step up its Android inventory to offer a more comprehensive and compelling array of smartphones to offset any losses.
It will be particularly good news for AT&T if the iPhone on Verizon encounters any issues. Problems with 3G connectivity, dropped calls, or slow data downloads might validate that the issues experienced lie with the iPhone itself rather than the AT&T network, and could ultimately vindicate AT&T.
Of course, if that doesn't happen, it could be a public relations disaster for AT&T instead. Should the Verizon iPhone exceed expectations and run flawlessly on the Verizon network, that 23 percent that Credit Suisse predicts will defect could easily double. iPhone users are a dedicated group, and many will gladly switch providers to get the best possible experience with the Apple smartphone.
While the Droid line of Android smartphones, and the other Android devices available from Verizon are all very capable smartphones--equal to or better than the iPhone in many ways--for many users they are simply adequate stand-ins for the iPhone they couldn't have. Part of the success of Android on Verizon is related to the fact that it doesn't have to compete directly with the iPhone, and users who are locked to Verizon have no choice but to choose from the smartphones that are available.
Apple and Verizon both stand to win big if and when the Verizon iPhone finally becomes available. AT&T and Android on the other hand could be in for a shock.