As if selling 1.7 million iPhone 4s in three days is not enough, now comes word from Bloomberg that Apple will make the iPhone available to Verizon subscribers in January 2011.
Having sold more than 50 million iPhones since the debut of the device three years ago, Apple is likely approaching the ceiling of prospective customers willing to live with AT&Ts inferior network. The immediate and profound commercial success of the iPad earlier this year proved how many people want to embrace Apple devices without being beholden to an expensive an unreliable AT&T plan.
Verizon, which is ahead of the game in developing a fourth-generation wireless network, has nearly 100,000,000 million customers. Increasingly, the carrier is collaborating with Google to carry multiple devices from several manufacturers that run on the Android operating system. In short order, Google developed a critical mass of consumers comfortable with – if not enthusiastic over – Android.
In the increasingly hot war between Apple and Google, Apple will need Verizon’s mobile media distribution in order to keep up. The spread between iPhone 225,000 apps and Android nearly 75,000 will increasingly diminish, thus removing a key competitive advantage for Apple. If Apple doesn’t want to relive the story lines of the Mac/PC war a generation ago, embracing Verizon is the only way to go.