As with most things Apple, any announcements by—or related to—their products is subject to national media attention and wild speculation. Such was the case with today’s Verizon event; the announcement last week coupled with photos of a slightly modified iPhone 4 frame led to rumors that Apple’s wildly-popular smartphone would be finally be available on a network other than AT&T, which has had an exclusive contract with Apple since the first iPhone’s release in 2007.
Rumors of a second US carrier have popped up from time to time, with Verizon being a top contender. The only reason people discounted them was its CDMA network. But Apple’s exclusivity agreement with AT&T was the biggest thing keeping the iPhone from working with other carriers.
That exclusivity agreement has apparently run out. Starting in February of 2011, the iPhone will be available on Verizon as well as AT&T. Apple had made some internal changes to work on Verizon’s CDMA network, but the only outward signs are a slight repositioning of a couple buttons and an extra antenna gap. This slight repositioning of the buttons may make it incompatible with some custom-fit iPhone cases, but otherwise the form and functionality is practically the same.
Plan pricing details at the moment seem to be somewhat lacking, though we do have these bits of info:
- $200 for the 16GB model on a two year agreement
- $300 for the 32GB version
- Current Verizon customers will be able to pre-order on Feburary 3rd
- everyone else can order on February 10th.
- can act as a mobile WiFi connection for up to five devices – functionality built right into the System Preferences – no word on any extra fees associated with this.
The purchase prices of the phones are the same as through AT&T. Though specific details aren’t available yet, similar plans from Verizon indicate a similar price strategy. So, as OWC Grant asked as we discussed this earlier today, what does this mean?
The addition of another U.S. carrier has the opportunity to to open up a lot of doors both for Apple and for consumers, which means we benefit, for a change.
For Apple, the main plus is in its now-broadened its U.S. market—those who can’t (or won’t) get service through AT&T now have another option if they want an iPhone. This increases the potential number of iPhones sold, which means more profit for Apple.
For the consumer, we see benefits on a couple of fronts. First is the distribution of network resources. iPhone users tend to use a lot of data. Spreading the bandwidth-hungry iPhones across two networks, rather than just one, should ease network strain on AT&T as well as keep Verizon out of the “red zone,” traffic-wise. That will mean a more enjoyable iPhone experience for users on both networks.
The more important thing, though, is the addition of choice. Rather than having to go with AT&T, U.S. consumers now have a choice of carriers if they want the immensely popular iPhone. Most users (especially new ones) tend to vote with their wallets, meaning both AT&T and Verizon need to will need to keep their network and pricing plans competitive in order to gain (or keep) those iPhone customers. This could mean much more competitive pricing and better plans overall, and there’s nothing bad about that.
While I’m the first to admit that it would be great to see the iPhone eventually available via even more U.S. carriers (or at least the one I use…), I think this is a great first step.