Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Verizon's iPhone - Premature or Strategic?

As my account manager pointed out to me today, unless you've been living under a mobile rock, you've been hearing about the Verizon iPhone, and the jeers back and forth between the wireless giants -Verizon and AT&T. I've read quite a few of these stories and still don't know exactly how I feel about the whole deal. Disclaimer - I've been a loyal AT&T customer since I got my first cell phone six years ago, and am a current iPhone user.

That being said, a few of the articles I read questioned why Verizon would launch the iPhone 4 now, potentially just a few months before Apple unveils the next version of iPhone. I'm here to offer my perspective on that. I'm sure there are a lot of reasons, but the top two that come to my mind are press and sales.

Every company wants good press. This Verizon announcement has led to an almost absurd amount of coverage. Almost every tech, mobile and wireless blog and publication has covered it - not to mention the business press pick-up in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal and so on. Sure, Steve Jobs can pretty much sneeze and get some impressive media attention, but this Verizon announcement has got everyone talking - tech folks, mobile guys and gals, social media gurus, business ladies and gents, and of course, consumers. When Apple does launch the next generation iPhone, Verizon will have to fight AT&T for the press. By announcing this now with the iPhone 4, Verizon snags some stand-alone pieces. Boom - Verizon and Apple increase their SEO and press momentum - not that either has struggled too much in those areas.

There will always be those consumers and early-adopters who want the latest and greatest gizmos and whatyamacallits. There's the Apple enthusiasts, of course. We all know those people who buy the latest version of everything Apple. They waited in line overnight for each iPhone and almost peed their pants when they got their hands on their first iPad the day it launched. Don't get me wrong, if my wallet allowed it I'd be camped out next to them. Many of these enthusiasts may be settling for supposedly lower quality AT&T service because they want the hottest Apple device. But now they have the chance to switch to the service they really want - Verizon. In a few months, they'll wait in line again when Apple announces the latest iPhone. That means they have potential repeat buyers, which leads to greater sales than if they waited to make the announcement with the next iPhone.

I think Verizon's decision to announce that they will be carrying the iPhone 4 was a strategic move at this point in time, that has already secured significant media traction, and will likely lead to increased sales. That's my PR thought for the day.

Image taken from Google images.

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