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Summary:

According to survey respondents to a ChangeWave Research survey of over 4,000 customers, more than 40 percent of Sprint/Nextel and T-Mobile customers would seriously considering buying an iPhone were it available to them, as would just over a majority of Verizon customers.

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ChangeWave Research has released a survey (PDF) of some 4,040 customers of U.S. cellular service providers that is rife with opportunity for the iPhone, if only Apple would seize it.

According to survey respondents, more than 40 percent of Sprint/Nextel and T-Mobile customers would seriously considering buying an iPhone were it available to them, as would just over a majority of Verizon customers. Unfortunately, despite strong demand for a Verizon iPhone, at least one analyst is now asserting that won’t happen until 2011.

Computerworld spoke with BroadPoint AmTech analyst Brian Marshall concerning an evocative theory regarding the iPad, the iPhone, and AT&T. According to Marshall, “AT&T was able to negotiate a six-month extension on the iPhone exclusive.” This was accomplished as part of a deal whereby AT&T would offer data plans for the iPad at breakthrough pricing of $15 and $30 without any contract or commitment.

If that scenario sounds like a dubious conspiracy theory, it probably is. Marshall has previously asserted that AT&T’s exclusivity agreement would expire this June, and that it was a “certainty” that Verizon would be offering the iPad. Setting aside the rationalization of analysts, looking further into the ChangeWave Research survey makes it seem inconceivable that Apple would continue the exclusivity relationship with AT&T at any price.

Of those surveyed, AT&T customers reported the highest rate of dropped calls among the four carriers, three times that reported by customers with the best-rated provider, Verizon. Of course, AT&T disputes this data. From DailyTech, AT&T counters the ChangeWave Research survey is based upon respondent “recollection,” while “quantitative results” from research firm GWS put AT&T “within just two-tenths of a percent of the industry leader.” Even if you are Luke Wilson and accept AT&T’s explanations along with the company’s checks, there’s another problem with the iPhone being exclusive to AT&T.

The iPhone no longer generates “switchers” like it used to. Last year, the iPhone 3GS received, at best, a slight bump in bringing people to AT&T. Worse, it appears the Verizon Droid may be the new iPhone when it comes to luring customers to a different carrier. It will be interesting to see if the rumored iPhone HD can reverse that trend, but it seems unlikely, which means it’s time for Apple to switch, or at least add.

Verizon, with more than 90 million customers, more than AT&T, would mean at least an additional 10 million iPhones sold per year. Those sales would have a cascade effect on development, too. As more people bought more apps, the combination of sharply rising hardware and software sales could help turn back the surge of Android phones like the Droid.

A month from now the next iPhone will almost certainly be introduced at WWDC. Let’s hope we hear about a new U.S. carrier, too, otherwise it may be another year of listening to Apple executives talk about the “significant progress” AT&T has made with its network.

Related GigaOM Pro Research (sub req’d):

Why Apple Should Choose Sprint Before Verizon Wireless

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  1. Amen. Apple needs to send the iPhone to Verizon.

  2. Screw all these networks, each has their downfall –
    AT&T – poor customer service, many dropped calls, poor coverage(always worst when suppost to have best)
    Verizon – high price, great coverage, no dropped calls, ok customer service
    TMobile – good price, great customer service (yes esp for iphone), very few dropped calls, good coverage
    metropcs – great price, poor coverage, poor customer service

    Hey apple why not simply make the worlds universal phone? its simply hardware, and totally do-able just be apple like and MAKE IT WORK, anywhere, any network! Then buying iphone/ipad would be a no brainer – everyone would get it, use it wherever they are, everyone wins.

    1. Charles Jade Steve Friday, May 7, 2010

      Setting aside the requirements of Visual Voicemail, it’s about money. Consumers in the U.S. are conditioned to purchase subsidized phones. It’s why the Droid sells and the Nexus One does not.

    2. Justin Petersen Steve Friday, May 7, 2010

      I’ve found ATT’s customer service to be far superior to Verizon’s. I did have much better coverage with Verizon though, especially in rural areas, but their 3G network wasn’t as fast as ATT’s (in Denver at least).

      My biggest gripe with Verizon was with their phone selection. They have always had a poor selection of phones, and got the best phones after ATT. The fact that the Droid is viewed as the best phone they have is a testament to this (They still don’t have the best Android phones yet).

      1. What’s better than the Incredible and available now?

  3. I’m an Apple guy. All I’ve had at home. I don’t have an Iphone. Why not? I’d rather chew glass than do business with AT&T. They have the worst customer service in the world. They run a business the way the Feds run government. Try to call someone. Love Mac’s. Love Apple. Will NEVER have an Iphone using AT&T.

    1. Claps to you sir. I feel the same way. The best phone on the worst network = no iPhone for me.

      1. 5stargeneral LB Friday, May 14, 2010

        i love this post…verizon needs iphone or the millions of people like us who love apple but HATE at&t will never purchase it

    2. I use Verizon, I have excellent service…. I hope Apple lets Verizon be the next “world-carrier” of the Iphone line.

  4. My 2 Cents Friday, May 7, 2010

    I have the opposite experience with AT&T and Verizon. I’ve had great customer service and coverage from AT&T and abysmal customer service from Verizon. Also, Verizon’s phones are (or were when I was with them) intentionally crippled so that you had to go through Verizon’s expensive and horrible systems to do things the phone was originally designed to do. I find that practice unconscionable and that alone, even if they’ve stopped, will keep me from ever going back to Verizon.

  5. Shaun Richards Friday, May 7, 2010

    Hey,

    Sorry this is a bit off point but how do you make such amazing charts?

  6. The charts appear to be made in Apple’s Keynote app (or possibly Numbers, but I’m pretty sure it’s Keynote).

    As for the Verizon vs. AT&T, they both have their downfalls. Verizon is obscenely priced, and the customer service sucks.

    That being said, I would love to see Apple add a SECOND carrier (not a replacement for AT&T), to create some price competition.

    1. I agree, I don’t want to see AT&T get replaced, I just want to see another new carrier (VERIZON!!!)

  7. Brian S Hall Friday, May 7, 2010

    Message from Dear Leader:

    Beg.
    Beg!
    You want my magic I want to hear you beg!

  8. when my current contract expires, I’ll just have to get a droid. At least I’ll be able to decide want apps I want without censorship, so it won’t be all bad.

    1. If you are buying a phone for the apps, the iPhone is way ahead of any of its competitors. You can talk about how they censor apps all you want, but Android doesn’t have most of the higher quality apps currently enjoyed on the iPhone. Viper’s Remote car Start App, Madden, Tiger Woods, Grand Theft Auto, and Call of Duty NZ, are just a few iPhone apps you won’t get on a Droid. You also have to consider that the Android apps have fewer features than their iPhone equivalents. For example, the Facebook app for Android has far fewer features than the iPhone version, and the Android version of MLB At Bat doesn’t allow for live video like the iPhone version does.

      Another consideration is that media companies will typically tailor to the iPhone crowd first. For example, the iPhone will be the first phone to offer Netflix instant streaming, Free ABC TV shows, and a Hulu app (which won’t work with Android, even after flash is finally released). And they already have sports content providers like the MLB, NBA, NCAA, and NFL streaming live video to the device.

  9. Last year I might have thought about buying an iPhone IF it had been available for T-Mobile– since I have been a satisfied customer since 1997. However, I now own myTouch, and I find it does what I need it to do.

    And to think I responded on a survey ten years ago that all I was interested in with a phone was – a phone. The times, they are a’changing.

  10. With over 130% iPhone sales growth Year on Year, Apple doesn’t need Verizon nor the expense of developing and supporting a CDMA iPhone especially when Verizon is rolling out its next generation LTE network as fast as possible.

    Last quarter, the iPhone brought around 900,000 new users to AT&T. This was more than twice as many net new postpaid customers as Droid and all the other phones brought to Verizon. AT&T’s churn rate for postpaid customers is now at Verizon’s level too.

    So for these, and more reasons discussed in my article http://lowendmac.com/nash/10tn/no-verizon-iphone.html customers won’t see the iPhone on Verizon before it can support the standard GSM iPhone like Telus in Canada (another CDMA network).

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