If the rumors swirling throughout the Internet are true, Verizon will announce tomorrow that it will, at long last, start selling Apple’s iPhone by the end of the month.
What we know for sure is that Verizon is holding a press event, although it’s offered no details about the subject matter. What seems most likely is that Verizon will offer a version of the latest iPhone 4 for use on its network, rather than some totally new device. Some reports add that Verizon may offer an unlimited data plan for iPhone users (something AT&T stopped doing last year).
Such a move would end AT&T’s three-year exclusivity on the popular device, and will no doubt please (at least initially) the legions of disgruntled iPhone users who have voiced complaints over AT&T’s network. Analyst predictions have Verizon selling between 5 – 12 million iPhones by the end of the year, should it start doing so this month.
But there are many questions about the impact of such a move. They include:
* What will it mean for VCast Music? According to label sources, Verizon is the second largest single account next to iTunes for music sales (full-song downloads, ringtones and ringback tones). But will presence of the iPhone bolster that position, or hurt it? Given all the music apps available on the iPhone, including iTunes, it’s easy to see how there could be some attrition there. But then Verizon also has a deep relationship with Rhapsody, which runs its music store and has an iPhone app of its own. Perhaps there could be some synergies there to lend much-needed momentum to the Verizon/Rhapsody partnership.
*How will this affect Verizon’s developer plans? Spurred by the success of Apple’s App Store, Verizon executed one of the more astounding about-faces in wireless history by ending its traditional “walled-garden” approach and opened its network data to developers to better create apps. Will iPhone app developers have access to that same data and functionality (such as network-based location data, messaging services, and the like)?
*What will it mean for AT&T? While the original iPhone provider has already begun sniping at Verizon in anticipation of the launch (“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,” Larry Solomon, senior VP of corporate communications at AT&T told Business Insider), the fact is AT&T took a serious hit to its reputation by the connectivity problems iPhone users have suffered to date. While AT&T has taken steps to bolster its network to meet the demands of iPhone users, analysts expect to see a massive migration of iPhone users to Verizon once the jump can be made.
*Will Verizon be better? It’s easy to ding AT&T for it’s network issues, but the massive data usage by iPhone users was enough to overwhelm almost any network operator. Will Verizon’s network stand up to the same usage crunch? The company is hyping up a new “4G LTE” upgrade, but it’s not clear that the new iPhone will be compatible with the more advanced network. What’s more, Verizon’s CDMA-based network may not be able to offer some of the features that AT&T’s GSM-based network has so far, such as the ability to talk on the phone and check e-mail at the same time.
*What does it mean for Android? The rival smartphone operating system claimed 44% of the overall smartphone market in the third quarter of last year, beating both the iPhone and Blackberry devices for the first time, and its momentum continues to surge. Much of that growth is due to Verizon — the nation’s largest wireless operator — having no choice but to push Android-based devices for lack to-date of an iPhone option. How will Verizon customers react when given the choice between an iPhone or an Android-based device?