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Summary:

Finally, after years of rumours and speculation, it looks like Verizon is about to start selling Apple’s iPhone. On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal boldly proclaimed “The iPhone is finally coming to Verizon Wireless.” So what does that mean for AT&T, and for you?

verizon-iphone4

Finally, after years of rumours and speculation, it looks like Verizon is about to start selling Apple’s iPhone. On Saturday, citing people “familiar with the matter,” the Wall Street Journal boldly proclaimed “The iPhone is finally coming to Verizon Wireless.” From the WSJ:

The largest U.S. wireless carrier will make the long-awaited announcement at an event Tuesday in New York City… The phone will make its way to Verizon Wireless stores around the end of January.

The move will for the first time let U.S. consumers choose the network that carries their iPhone and perhaps give them additional pricing options that could affect their monthly bills.

The article confirms that the Verizon iPhone will feature a radio chip making it compatible with the carrier’s CDMA wireless network. By comparison, AT&T iPhones work with the (globally ubiquitous) GSM wireless network.

Verizon’s invitation-only “special event” will be held tomorrow, at New York City’s Lincoln Center. According to John Paczkowski of All Things Digital, the event will be headed by Verizon COO Lowell McAdam, and, “barring any unforseen circumstances,” Apple’s very own Steve Jobs.

More details (also from Paczkowski) on Verizon’s shiny new iPhone suggest that we can expect the phone to debut with an unlimited data plan;

Sources close to Verizon tell me the carrier will offer the iPhone with an unlimited data plan (presumably the same $30 unlimited plan it offers for other smartphones)–though they wouldn’t say for how long. That should distinguish it a bit more from the iPhone on AT&T, which requires a capped plan for data service.

For AT&T, the Damage is Already Done

Of course, the question now is how much a Verizon iPhone will impact AT&T’s business. Since the iPhone launched in 2007, AT&T has been the only carrier in the United States to officially offer Apple’s iconic smartphone to customers; but in the last three years, AT&T has been criticized for high prices and shaky service. The carrier has cited iPhone-customers’ insatiable hunger for data as the reason for sometimes-unreliable service and dropped calls, pledging significant upgrades to their network in order to better meet demand.

Even Steve Jobs (sort of) defended AT&T’s difficult position when he spoke at the D8 Conference in June last year, saying;

“They [AT&T] worry about the network, while we worry about the phone. They’re improving, but they do have some issues. Remember that they’re handling way more traffic than all other competitors combined.

Credible people tell me that things get worse before they get better as the carriers switch things around to make improvements. If you believe that, things should get a lot better soon. Should be better by end of summer. We’ll see.”

However, no amount of high-powered Execu-speak could change the fact that, for AT&T, the damage was already done — by Sept. 2010, Credit Suisse reported that nearly a quarter of AT&T iPhone customers would switch to Verizon “if given the chance”.

Mounting a Desperate Defense

AT&T has already put something of a defense strategy into action; last week they reduced the price of the iPhone 3GS from $99 to $49, presumably hoping that pricing alone might convince customers not to choose an iPhone from their competitor. Apple followed suit today, reducing the price to $49 on its own website.

In addition, AT&T’s PR executive Larry Solomon reached out to Business Week‘s Silicon Alley Insider yesterday with a dig at Verizon;

The iPhone is built for speed, but that’s not what you get with a CDMA phone. I’m not sure iPhone users are ready for life in the slow lane.

Will you be jumping ship to Verizon? Or are you grandfathered-in to the best deal AT&T can offer? Are you, like me, just relieved that these endless “Verizon iPhone” rumors will finally be put to rest? Are you willing to change carriers now, or will you wait another few months for the iPhone 5? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. Not sure why people are focusing on AT&T with this announcement. The most important question, by far, isn’t how a Verizon iPhone impacts AT&T, but rather how it impacts Verizon’s Android phone sales. I think that impact will be major.

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    1. Hamranhansenhansen Monday, January 10, 2011

      Verizon’s smartphone sales, which were already small, completely tanked last summer when iPhone 4 was introduced and there were finally credible rumors iPhone 4 would come to Verizon. So for Verizon, the “damage has already been done”. But the upside for them is there are many surveys of Verizon users that show iPhone will outsell all other Verizon smart phones very quickly. That is the leverage that forced Verizon to finally capitulate to Apple’s demand that iPhone be sold unmolested. Quite simply, Verizon’s users want iPhones much more than they want smartphones.

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  2. I have been eligible for an upgrade on my family plan on VZW since this past summer. I am looking forward to the end of the rumors and the phone to be released. I will tell you that even up until last week VZW agents were calling the house offering significant deals on “droid” based phones of which I was not interested in. So i will be interested on what the iPhone will do change wise to VZW … traffic increases and the almost certain changes in data plans. 1/11/11 announcement looking promising … I think for the number one phone maker to be on the number one network …

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  3. You guys don’t really know what high prices and shaky service are. We wish we could have those prices and services in Brazil.
    BTW… the iPhone’s sale will probably bigger than androids I guess.

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  4. I think I am going to wait until June/July and wait and see how everything pans out. There will also be a lot more options then.

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  5. Yawn. The iPhone is outdated. Real techies have moved on to bigger and better things that actually allow you to multi-task and run real apps

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    1. I really wonder what your definition of outdated is. And what is it with the use of the word “real”? Real techies, real apps… what the heck are those? Is there a way to find out what is fake or real? And btw, the iPhone multitasks and I’m pretty sure it runs “real” apps, whatever those are.

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    2. Hamranhansenhansen Monday, January 10, 2011

      If you’re going to troll, at least put a little effort into it. iPhone has had multitasking since 2007, and it has been available to 3rd party apps for 8 months now. “Real” apps are native C apps, like Unix, Mac, Windows all run. Apps that are written in the same language as the operating systems themselves. iPhone is the only phone with native C apps. That is why it has video editing, multitrack audio editing, and other desktop-class tasks: it runs desktop-class apps.

      As for “real techies” … if you mean Gizmodo readers, then yes, please move on. Plenty of gadgets out there for you to play with while the rest of us get things done with our iPhones.

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  6. I really hate the verizon network. I don’t know what could ever make me switch over, unless the VZ iPhone was way faster and cheaper, and the network somehow gained an ounce of customer service.

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  7. The iPhone has an incredible feature I have been using that just blows my mind! I am watching TV from my phone and having a more enjoyable time on the bus today! I have a DISH Sling Adapter at home which streams the media, but all I have to do is keep my phone on me. I do work for DISH Network, but as a consumer I must say that this technology is over the top!

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  8. Do you think Verizon’s service and reliability will not suffer when millions
    more jump to them? It will. AT&T’s will probably get better with a lighter load. Also depends upon where you live and work.

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  9. It means absolutely nothing to me. Verizon only covers 1/4 of Oklahoma along one Interstate highway, and only offers their LTE service in Oklahoma City, and nowhere else! My area of the state is completely covered by two GSM carriers (CellularOne & T-Mobile) and 3 CDMA carriers (Pioneer Cellular, US Cellular, and Sprint) , neither of which is AT&T or Verizon, so I would be far more interested in an iPhone that is open to use on ANY carrier.

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