In a Morgan Keegan report I read today, they claim they have counted 312 stories about the iPhone coming to Verizon along the years. It is true, every other week someone is saying the iPhone is coming to Verizon. And it never has.
This time, though, I think it is really going to happen. And in Q1 2011, as reported recently.
There are many reasons for it.
First, Apple is seeing the fruits of supporting multiple carriers in the same country. They started doing it in Italy, for the first time (see, the BelPaese is still #1 in mobile, apparently ;-) where both Vodafone and Telecom Italia offered the iPhone. Then it moved to other countries. In all cases, having multiple carriers increased Apple sales. It makes sense for Apple to pursue the same strategy in the US as well.
Second, the AT&T network sucks. As much as they are trying to make it better, it still sucks. In particular, if you live in the Bay Area, LA, NY. Just where everyone that has an iPhone wants to live :-) Verizon has a much better network and they will sell a lot more iPhones just for it. Even current iPhone AT&T users will switch, believe me: the consumer allegiance is with Apple, not with the carrier. Apple made AT&T a pipe (warning to the rest of the pack, make sure you avoid pipefication… there are tools out there that allow you to fight).
Third, Apple really wants to bring the fight to Android. If there is a mistake they made, it was not launching the iPhone at Verizon, therefore forcing Verizon to find a hero phone they could launch against the iPhone. They picked the Droid (it could have been Palm…) and now Android is big and challenging iOS big time. I think a piece of it was due to CDMA vs. GSM, and the need to manufacture a single different phone just for the US. Apple just thought it was not worth the effort (and needed a big push from AT&T at launch). They probably miscalculated it a bit. But once the iPhone is at Verizon, Apple expects to crush the Droid (although I am not that sure it will really happen). Definitely, it is going to be the battle to watch.
Lastly, AT&T is preparing a big hero phone launch for the BlackBerry 9600 this fall. They already have a hero phone… They would not need to push the new BlackBerry, unless they knew the were losing their hero phone in a quarter.
That said, expect the iPhone at Verizon in Q1 2011.