Hello, ViPhone … We’ve Been Expecting You

We all knew it was coming — both long term and more definitively since Verizon sent out press invitations to today’s event. The Verizon iPhone is here.

It’s much like the iPhone 4 that runs on AT&T’s network except its chipset is CDMA compatible and it will run iOS 4.2.5. Other differences are personal hotspot capability, and the much awaited ability to make phone calls in dense iPhone cities like San Francisco and New York.

Pricing will also be similar to AT&T with $199 (16GB) and $299 (32GB) models. There will likely be differences in data plans, related to AT&T’s metered data pricing that was announced last summer. But all in all, the new model is very similar AT&T’s (no LTE version as speculated).

What Does It All Mean?

But what does this phone mean for all parties? Like a lot of things Apple does, it will come out as the big winner (with consumers perhaps coming in second). Just looking at the numbers, Verizon’s addressable market of about 92 million mobile subscribers in the U.S. obviously opens a big door.

In our mobile predictions document out this week, we project Apple will see about 10 million to 12 million incremental units sold in 2011 as a result of this move. That’s about $6 billion in revenues. Verizon will sell more than 12 million iPhones, but many will be converts from AT&T.

As for the broader market, one effect will be a more compelling reason for tens of millions of Verizon subscribers to upgrade to a smartphone. There have been a lot of holdouts for this day. Now that it’s happened, this will accelerate smartphone adoption and thus mobile Web and content delivery.

These are all key inputs in the mobile ad revenue forecasting we do, and overall assessment of the opportunities in this space. So it’s a notable market milestone in addition to the incremental revenues for Apple and customer acquisition for Verizon in now having the most popular device on its network.

Exodus

One thing is for sure: We’ll see less iPhone bashing in Verizon marketing for Droids and other Android based devices. Verizon now has a juggling act in having pushed Android so aggressively in both marketing, and in the arsenal of devices it’s brought to its network. Probably a good problem to have though.

One question will be the degree to which we see the foretold AT&T exodus. Many surveys pointed to this but surveys are sometimes “aspirational” and we see different behavior in reality. This is especially true with early termination fees and the need to buy a separate phone.

Many AT&T users will hold back after they come to this realization. There’s also sense in holding out to see if an AT&T exodus will make the network better. And don’t forget we’re already halfway through the innovation cycle for the iPhone4 … holding out till June = iPhone5 upgrade.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Another question will be how Apple will juggle two carriers. Simplicity has been one of the defining traits of the iPhone so far. Different hardware specs in the GSM and CDMA networks could bring some complexity to the table.

In other words, the degree to which the iPhone can innovate around 4G networks is now tied to the incongruence and separate network rollouts of two different carriers. It will be interesting to see the timing and features of the iPhone 5; will they be throttled by a lowest common denominator of two carrier networks?

The hope is that a 4G or LTE version will be available across both networks at that time, but we’ll have to wait to see. IPhone users out there: Will you switch to Verizon on Feb. 10, or take a wait-and-see approach? I might be in the latter camp.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. BigDaddy

    I wonder if you’ll be able to do other things on the phone while talking like on at&t? I’m used to jotting notes down and checking email during conference calls on my iPhone.

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