Would a Verizon iPhone Slow Android's Rise?

The answer is yes and no. First Android is available across major carriers and so has diverisified distribution. But there is sufficient empricial reason to believe that some number of would-be Droid buyers would opt for a Verizon iPhone instead.

As many have already reported, a July survey of 1,000 US mobile users from Morpace found that 51% of current Verizon customers would consider buying an iPhone if/when it comes to Verizon (now speculated to be January, 2011).

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That's a very significant number considering Verizon has more than 80 million subscribers in the US. The survey also reports that some number of AT&T subscribers would switch to Verizon if the iPhone were available there. 

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Previous ChangeWave data showed a somewhat lower percentage of Verizon mobile subscribers with pent-up demand for the iPhone:

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On the subject of current Android users that are interested in potentially switching to the iPhone, Nielsen previously found that about 30% of Android users were interested in an alternative handset (either iPhone or another type):

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Surveys must always be read cautiously; they indicate sentiment and attitudes but do not always correctly predict behavior. Yet regardless of how many actual would-be iPhone buyers exist among current Droid or general Verizon subscribers, merely the iPhone's presence at Verizon would alter the dynamics of the market:

  • It would provide for access to millions more mobile users for the iPhone and its apps
  • It would stop Verizon from funding Droid brand building anti-iPhone bashing media campaigns

The value of the latter should not be underestimated either. Before Verizon there was no "Droid" and Verizon has spent millions promoting the platform as a worthy alternative to AT&T and the iPhone. We'll see if the Verizon iPhone actually happens in January. If it does I suspect it would be a "material" development for the US market. Given Android's momentum (see below), Apple should be interested in getting the iPhone to as many carriers as possible:

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As a final note, one interesting question to ask of Android buyers is: what phone are you not buying because you bought an Android handset (iPhone, RIM, WinMo)?  In my case it's the iPhone.