Who's Afraid of the Verizon iPhone?

I wasn’t going to write anything, unlike Marco, but thought his post was very good and worth a quick read.

marco:

I was going to write about this angle of the Verizon iPhone, but Watts Martin already did a better job of communicating what I wanted to say, plus more, in this post:

But in the US market the great Google vs. Apple Fight Fight Fight! has been a lot less of a real competition than either the technology press or the cheering fans make it out to be. With Verizon getting the iPhone and AT&T getting Android-powered phones that don’t suck, though, consumers who aren’t nerds are going to be finally making side-by-side comparisons when they walk into their neighborhood cell phone store.

Sure, Android has moved a lot of volume. But the platform’s various devices seem to lack most of the passionate customer demand that iPhones have always had. Nobody’s lining up the night before to buy them. Even the gadget blogs have a hard time feigning enthusiasm for this week’s hot Android phone because they still haven’t taken the shrinkwrap off of last week’s.

Whenever I’ve overheard conversations about smartphones in real life, by “normal people” (not geeks like us), it has always been clear that the true battle happening in the U.S. phone market wasn’t iPhone versus Android, but iPhone versus Verizon.

The decision that people were discussing wasn’t “Do I get an iPhone or an Android whatever?”

It was always “Do I get an iPhone or do I stay on Verizon?”

I get the feeling that very few people except anti-Apple geeks really care about Android itself. The buying decision for most seemed to be, “I’m on Verizon and don’t want to switch, so which of the phones in the Verizon store looks best? They say this one is just as good as an iPhone. I guess I’ll get that.”

Granted, this is purely anecdotal and speculative. And my speculation is wrong a lot.

But I suspect that the media’s conversation about Android versus iPhone is going to be very different in a year. Even moreso in two years, the duration of the average Verizon contract. And it’s not looking great for Android.

The iPhone is going to gain a lot of U.S. marketshare by being on Verizon, and it’s going to come significantly at Android’s expense. (BlackBerry will lose some of their Verizon customers to iPhone, too, but I bet Android will lose proportionally much more.)

One effect I expect to start immediately: developers of popular iPhone apps are going to feel a lot less pressure to write Android versions if it becomes apparent, or if we all just speculate in the same way, that Android isn’t in fact going to take any more U.S. marketshare away from Apple and is likely to give back some of what they took over the last year. Android’s marketshare may have just peaked.

I’m not saying Android is going to be “killed”, or that it will be reduced to a miniscule installed base. Neither are remotely likely.

But I think over the next few quarters, it’s going to become far less relevant.