Verizon Becoming Synonymous with Android

The allure of the iPhone at AT&T peaked and this past quarter. Verizon signed up more subscribers than its main rival: 665K vs. 496K. And while talk of a Verizon iPhone continues it appears somewhat less likely than it did just a short time ago. In addition the carrier’s Droid campaign is all about bashing the iPhone (“Droid Does” [i.e., the iPhone doesn’t]). This past weekend I was at a mall in Los Angeles and went in to the Verizon store to observe and play with the Droid X (impressive large screen but generally felt “insubstantial”). Verizon is very aggressively associating its brand with Droid handsets and has eclipsed T-mobile USA, which once positioned itself as the Android carrier. Given that history it’s ironic that T-Mobile may become the first carrier beyond AT&T to get the iPhone. Verizon’s focus on and marketing on behalf of Android is bad for RIM/BlackBerry and other handset OEMs. RIM in particular will suffer from the “second class status” it now occupies in the carrier’s positioning. While RIM doesn’t rely on one carrier — it’s broadly available from all the major carriers — Verizon is the largest and most important. Bing, which struck a major “default search” deal with Verizon (except on Droids), also suffers by extension. As an aside, as RIM rolls out BlackBerry OS 6 and more iPhone and Android-like touchscreen handsets (I assume), it risks straying from its “franchise” — the text-friendly keypad. This is the dilemma for the Waterloo, Ontario-based company. I also observed the lonely Palm display in the Verizon store. Unless or until HP adds more handsets or revamps the software (which they’ve said they’re going to do) Palm remains dormant. Making the iPhone available to Verizon is the shrewdest thing that Apple could do to blunt Android’s rise and competitive challenge. But because of the investment that Verizon has made in “Droid” (and being anti-Apple) if Apple were to make the iPhone available it might be difficult for the carrier to accept the offer. ____ RelatedBlackBerry’s Era May Be Ending