So, I’ve been watching the rumors wax and wane over whether Verizon and Apple will ultimately come to a deal allowing Verizon to offer the iPhone to its wireless customers. Today is a great example of how the rumor mill is gnashing back and forth on the question. Engadget just dug up news stories and legal filings which appear to prove that Apple’s original deal with AT&T is exclusive. Greg Sterling cogently rehashes this, wondering if that deal is still valid or not — and sums up stating that if it is, Apple is screwed. However, CrunchGear is reporting on how one of Verizon’s branding/ad agencies (Landor Associates) is working upon an ad campaign for a Verizon iPhone. So, how can anyone hash the truth out of the massive rumor machinery that’s making bucks off of all of us poor schmucks who keep clicking in droves to read the next unsubstantiated claims of a VeriPhone?!?
The whole question being bandied back and forth is much more important to me than the usual tech industry story-du-jour. You see, I own a reeeeallly old Windows Treo on Verizon service, and I’ve been holding on by my fingernails for a couple of years now, waiting with baited breath to get an iPhone on Verizon’s network. Before all this recent kerfluffle broke out in Sili Valley, I had decided that this July I would be getting a new phone, regardless of what these companies will do.
I must be channeling some of the consumer zeitgeist out there, since I refuse to budge off of the Verizon network, but I really would like the iPhone features. So, if the rumored announcement of a Verizon/Apple deal manifests itself near the end of June, I’ll be getting the Verizon iPhone. But, if not, I’ll be getting a Verizon Android phone.
As a former Verizon employee, I enjoyed using one of my perks by getting an employee discount on my Treo. I was with the company long enough to have a good feel for how they do business, and also know some of the company culture behind major business deals. While working at Superpages, I found working with the Verizon Wireless division very challenging — they’re very, very controlling about what apps are approved for their store, and even companies like us within the Verizon umbrella had difficulting getting our apps approved. Considering Apple’s similarly controlling efforts at building and protecting a walled garden, it wasn’t surprising that these two companies didn’t initially make a partnership deal. Verizon’s not accostomed to bending nor relenquishing their bigger player in the room position, and Apple wasn’t about to bend when they knew their product was so far advanced compared to others in the marketplace at the time.
I also knew from personal experience that Verizon’s longtime marketing spiel about having the superior network service was not merely bluff. I chuckled a lot when the ad campaigns came out this year with the little colored coverage maps hovering over advertising characters’ heads, showing Verizon’s coverage to be superior. It’s VERY telling that even though AT&T took Verizon to court over these ads, the judge ruled in Verizon’s favor and the ads just continue running. Apparently the court found that Verizon’s claims were valid!
As a developer, I’d like to tinker with building phone apps again, just as I did while working for Verizon. I’m attracted to the iPhone’s audience, but I’m also non-plused with their controlling behavior. There’s no excuse for them to not offer a SDK on Windows platform — the development platform should be agnostic. In this sense, I’d actually prefer to do development on an Android, since I’d have to buy a whole new Apple computer just to do development for iPhone.
But, which phone will I end up buying this year? What’s the actual truth behind all these frantic rumors?
I spoke to a close friend of mine who’s a top engineer in Apple, but he/she didn’t release any certain answers to me, other than to very vaguely hint that the effort to develop an iPhone for Verizon’s network would be highly challenging from a technical perspective. Essentially, they were hinting that it was unlikely to the point of being a no-go. (My friend obviously honors Apple’s strict policies on not releasing confidential info to anyone, particularly to bloggers like me!)
Knowing the players involved, here’s my take on it: I think it’s just narrowly possible we might hear of a Verizon iPhone (a “VeriPhone”, if you will) deal here in June. The monetary incentives are just too great to ignore. The analysts show that there are so many consumers like me who would buy an iPhone if Verizon offered service on it, that I think this will finally motivate Apple to make a deal. As for the five-year contract with AT&T, either Apple might pay up for advanced severance of that contract, or else that contract may’ve been voided when iPhone sales in New York were halted due to insufficient service — I’m quite sure that contract would’ve had provisions that would kick in if AT&T didn’t meet service level agreement requirements (“SLAs”).
So, I’m holding out for the VeriPhone in June, with fingers crossed! But, if I’m wrong, I have the backup plan: Android.