Two years of waiting, endless speculation, leaks, and hypotheses have ended with Verizon’s iPhone 4 announcement, but what does that mean for marketing professionals trying to hit the right chord with their clients?
Some say that Verizon may be on a collision course with the same user base that drove AT&T’s customer service ratings to the bottom of the list. The other picture coming into focus as the dust settles may be a move from the Death Star toward Big Red that ultimately levels the network issue that AT&T claims causes much of its customers’ strife. Either way, Apple sits on the edge of an estimated 96 million potential users, with some 15 million iPhones expected to fly off the shelves by year’s end, not to mention the phones purchased by those who live throughout the US in areas where AT&T’s coverage does not live up to its advertising hype.
This huge potential new customer pool, coupled with the recent news that Android is now the number two mobile operating system on the planet (just after Blackberry), creates an interesting predicament for marketers, advertisers, and communication professionals. Which platform do you invest in: Google’s Android, with its open source and massive momentum in the marketplace, or Apple’s iOS, with its two-year head start on the competition and a substantial user base that has become addicted to the “i” applications and hardware mania? Hard decision? Yes, most definitely, but realize this: users may wait to switch until the annual June/July Apple iPhone hardware announcement mayhem, however small or large it may be. The early adopters who made the switch from other carriers will feel the pain of the lack of simultaneous voice and data usage, while Verizon customers who upgrade to the iPhone will rave about the new device on their beloved “Big Red” carrier.
Now one detail has yet to be hashed out: the data plan structure and costs. How will they compare to AT&T, and what, if any, will be the incentive Verizon dangles to lure new contracts? Let’s hope it is more that just the potential to actually be able to “hear me now” without dropping the call a dozen times while standing in Penn Station.
But wait, did we mention the rumored iOS 4.3 will support Wi-Fi sharing from the iPhone 4? Now that detail, as insignificant as it may seem to the average user, can be a big factor for those customers looking for phone and broadband access. Someday in the future, a wireless carrier and landline provider will sell a joint package where a customer has access to the Internet from the pipe of his or her choosing and the ability to swap pipes very easily and as often as he or she wishes, but until that day comes, a leading handset coupled with the ability to share wireless broadband with up to 5 devices is a step in the right direction. So if a prediction is required, read this loud and clear: the next 8–11 months will decide the future of the market strength not only of the iPhone but of iOS as a leading operating system for mobile devices and the future of the marketplace. If by CES 2012 iPhone sales have not surpassed those of all other handsets (besides Blackberry devices) on the Verizon and AT&T networks, Android will have continued to gain market share.