Bringing a close to what was seemingly endless speculation, Verizon Wireless officially announced it will begin offering Apple’s iPhone to consumers in February.
Consumers can place advance orders for Verizon’s iPhone 4 on February 3 with widespread availability slated for February 10, Verizon announced at a release event on January 11.
But industry discussions about how AT&T will both deal with and respond to the news that it is no longer the exclusive carrier for the iPhone seemed just as hot a topic following the announcement. AT&T owned exclusive rights to the iPhone since it was launched by Apple in 2007.
Rumors of if and when the device would be offered by Verizon plagued the company’s customers almost immediately. However, not until this fall’s Cellular Telephone Industries Association conference in San Francisco did rumors really heat up. And now it appears AT&T will have to make every effort to stem the flow of customers switching to Verizon.
“The real question isn’t how many iPhones Verizon will sell, but what AT&T does in response,” Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett told Reuters. He attended Verizon’s event in New York.
With years of built-up anticipation behind it, Moffett and his fellow industry analysts collectively predict Verizon will sell 9 to 13 million iPhones this year. In turn, Apple gains access to Verizon’s 93 million subscribers.
On the other end, AT&T is expected to suffer its worst year since 2004, three years before it enjoyed iPhone exclusivity.
“Two industry innovators are coming together to deliver something to customers that they’ve been hungry for years,” Verizon Communications president Lowell McAdam said at the event.
However, one detail that may disappoint plenty of consumers is that Verizon’s iPhone will not run on its 4G LTE network. Instead, it will support the carrier’s 3G EV-DO offering, which can boast download speeds of 600 Kbps to 1.4 Mbps.
The 16-gigabyte model will be offered for $ 199.99 with a two-year agreement, while the 32-gigabyte model will be $ 299.99, also with a two-year agreement. Both prices are on par with what AT&T charges.
Despite challenges from devices that run Google’s Android mobile operating system, the iPhone continues to be one of the most popular smartphones on the market. According to the most recent report from comScore, Apple’s iOS mobile OS commands 25 percent of the smartphone market, good for third place.
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