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We know, we know: You’re all sick of the endless speculation about when Verizon Wireless will get the iPhone. But a new report sheds light on the situation from the angle that, iPhone or not, Verizon may be doing just fine, thank you very much.
The New York Times is reporting that, even without Apple’s hot iPhone, Verizon Wireless is doing quite well -- and even gaining on their competitor, AT&T, who has held a tight clamp on Cupertino’s handset since its debut in 2007. Verizon’s ties with Google continue to grow deeper and deeper, including Thursday’s launch of the hotly anticipated new Motorola Droid X, which runs the search giant’s Android operating system.
“Verizon is back in the game, even without the iPhone,” claims analyst Craig Moffett with Sanford C. Bernstein & Company. That could be bad news for staunch Verizon customers holding out hope that Apple’s handset may be coming to their favorite carrier anytime soon.
While the iPhone seems to have the inescapable pull of a black hole, Verizon has actually seen a steady increase in its own share of the smartphone market -- despite their lack of Apple’s handset. In May, Verizon saw their share rise to 26 percent, up from 20 percent in late 2008, while AT&T’s share of the smartphone market actually slipped to 40 percent from a previous high of 45 percent. However, that comScore data doesn’t take into account the recent launch of Apple’s latest iPhone 4, which has been in high demand since it debuted less than a month ago.
Verizon now has six Android devices in its stable, which has pushed Google’s own share of the smartphone market to 13 percent here in the U.S. Apple’s iPhone currently holds a 24 percent share, with competitor Research in Motion’s Blackberry holding nearly 42 percent.
Perhaps sensing that they may not get an iPhone anytime soon, Verizon has even boldly attacked Apple’s handset with their Droid ads, including a recent one for the Droid X which claims you can “hold the phone any way you like and use it just about anywhere to make crystal-clear calls” -- a clear and very public jab at the recent antenna design problems that Apple has faced with the new iPhone 4.
“Verizon is behaving as if it’s not going to get the iPhone anytime soon,” said Needham & Company analyst Charles Wolf. “The signal I’m getting from the intimacy of Google and Verizon is that it is certainly an engagement, if not a marriage.”
Despite many Verizon customers’ hopes and dreams, a partnership between Apple and the carrier is fraught with hurdles -- Verizon famously controls every device on their network, from the marketing to branding their company logo on each handset and their insistence on installing their own applications. Apple’s own control freak nature is likely not a good match for the carrier, but in the long run it may not matter.
“If Verizon didn’t get the iPhone, it wouldn’t be the end of the world,” concludes Philip Cusick, an analyst with Macquarie Research Equities. “They would continue to add subscribers and new phones.”
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter