This is Good for All of iPhone Users, AT&T or Verizon.
Whether you are sticking with AT&T or jumping ship the second that Verizon iPhone hits stores, there is probably one thing we can all agree on. This increased competition is good. Sure, there are other mobile operating systems available that compete directly with the iPhone, but the iPhone will be its own biggest rival in the battle of the carriers.
Let’s take a look at how their rivaly has heated up in recent months as both companies prepared for AT&T’s loss of iPhone exclusivity:
1) AT&T Boss Says iPhone Won’t Be Exclusive Forever
Back in July, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson spoke at the Fortune Brainstorm Conference. This wasn’t a huge hint, or a knock at Verizon, but it was them prepping the public for a time that the iPhone would no longer be tied to AT&T when he said, “There will be a day when you are not exclusive with the iPhone,” speaking about the company.
2) AT&T Says Customers Will Stick Around
During an investor conference CEO Randall Stephenson was asked about the company losing iPhone exclusivity. This is because the handset was driving up smartphone sales for AT&T. His answer to those concerns? ‚ÄúIf you look at the iPhone base, about 80% is either on a family-talk plan or in a business relationship with us…Those customers tend to be very sticky. They don‚Äôt churn very frequently.‚Äù At this point, everyone had heard enough rumors about a Verizon iPhone to be concerned with the other cellular provider selling the device. Basically, this was a non-direct way of saying “No one’s going to switch to Verizon. Customers like to stick around.”
3) AT&T Says Exclusivity Isn’t Everything
Rumors circulated for a long time. This went on for several years with the iPhone. The rumblings didn’t get truly loud until we noticed AT&T starting to give us some telltale signs hinting that they may be losing iPhone exclusivity. At this point, we knew it was happening, at at Dive Into Mobile, Mossberg asked AT&T’s Glenn Lurie about the iPhone’s exclusivity. Concerned? Not AT&T said Lurie, “We have 93 million customers and they all have different devices. We have come out publicly and said we aren‚Äôt concerned about it at all. The iPhone has been a great device for a long time, and we are in a position to compete with anyone who has any device at any time.” Verizon, we’re looking at you!
4) AT&T moves to their new campaign: “AT&T. The Nation’s Fastest. Period.“
At this point, the Verizon iPhone was about a month from an official announcement (which we would later find out about in January) and AT&T began rolling out their Extra. Short. Sentences. Campaign. to boast that they were the “Nation’s Fastest” network, period. At this point, AT&T had to have known that they were going to lose that exclusivity to Verizon, and they were prepping things up. They want to convince consumers that they are the best choice for iPhone users. Speed, is where it’s at on a smartphone, right? Well that leads to this next bit of PR gold.
5) iPhone Users Aren’t Ready for “Life on the slow lane.”
At this point, we needed very little confirmation that the Verizon iPhone was happening. When a spokesperson for AT&T was asked about a CDMA iPhone (which we all knew was Verizon at this point) he said, “The iPhone is built for speed. That’s not what you get with a CDMA iPhone. I’m not sure iPhone users are ready for life in the slow lane.” Ouch. Now they’re getting feisty.
6) Score One For The Consumers!
Remember when we said competition is good for consumers? AT&T no longer has a stronghold on the iPhone. On top of that, they began offering the iPhone 3GS, which is a pretty decent phone, for $49. That’s a steal. Sure, it’s not an iPhone 4, but the 3GS is nice, and we can’t argue with 50 bucks. This is just the beginning of companies starting to offer deals on their iPhones.
7) Roll Out the Data Plans!
The two companies then began working on their data plans. Verizon ditched their cheaper smartphone plan and stuck to the $30 a month unlimited plan. Meanwhile, AT&T decided it was time to offer a better texting plan than Verizon. We also heard that some older AT&T subscribers were able to once again get their unlimited data plans by complaining to customer service.
More recently, we heard that AT&T would be upping their data cap to 4GB a month for tethereing. The price? $45. It’s a bit less than twice the price of the 2GB plan ($25). We are also interested in seeing how the mobile hotspot option on Verizon affects AT&T’s plans. They have already said they will roll out a similar option, but we have yet to see a price and how much data will be available on a monthly basis. Still, it’s about time AT&T offers it, and we may have Verizon to thank for that.
8) AT&T: Our iPhone is Better!
At this point, AT&T was already known to enjoy a bit of a fight. Their next move? “Our iPhone is Better!” Well, that’s not a direct quote, but how else can you interpret the following? “The ONLY network that allows you to talk and surf ony your iPhone at the same time”
We didn’t add that emphasis, either, here’s the email ad AT&T sent out:
Again, you can see that AT&T is sticking by their guns and saying they they are the fastest mobile network. They mention the iPhone because that’s the same phone that Verizon now has. They just want you to know that you should choose their network over Verizon for speed.
9) Verizon: No! Our iPhone is better!
Notice that we say “iPhone” while the providers are actually claiming that their network is better. Well, that’s because these recent ads have focused on none other than the iPhone. While AT&T is trying to tell you that their network will give you the true iPhone experience, Verizon is telling you that they are giving you a reliable network. A good bunch of AT&T users have already been burned by unreliable coverage in their area. Perfect change for Verizon to swoop in and be their hero:
Let’s hope that Verizon can pressure AT&T into improving their network reliability in dead areas. Well, what do you know? They are paying attention.
10) AT&T Offering Free Microcell
That’s right. AT&T has been sending out emails to subscribers as a “way of saying ‘thank you’ for continued loyalty.” It’s said that not all AT&T users received it, so chances are it’s being offered to users who are in known problem areas. What’s a microcell? Well it’s a small device that boosts 3G signal in weak areas. They typically retail for $199.99. If users accept, they will be required to stay with AT&T for another year, they must also return or pay up if they cancel before that 12-month period is over.
Other reports come in from subscribers who have already gone for the deal, and they say that they have found no hidden charges.
11) AT&T Shows Us A Case For Voice and Data at the Same Time
Then AT&T’s commercial comes along and tells us exactly why having the ability to use voice and data at the same time are important. This poor sap is working one night when his wife calls wondering if he remembered their anniversary. Apprently, he doesn’t and starts making the dinner reservation while on the phone with her nervously fumbling around as he makes his reservation.
12) Battling it Out During The Super Bowl
The Packers and the Steelers weren”t the only ones battling it Out During the Super Bowl XLV. The commercials have become just as much a part of Super Bowl Sunday as the parties and the big game itself. With millions of viewers glued to their TVs, it’s one of the best times to show an ad. Of course those 30 seconds of airtime will set you back about 3 million dollars, but that’s why Super Bowl commercials are made with extra love.
The above commercials “Answer” in which the husband frantically thumbs around his iPhone making a dinner reservation was shown during the Super Bowl as well as the commercial featureing the Verizon guy’s now iconic, “Can you hear me now?” line. Both were taking potshots at each other in front of the Super Bowl’s TV viewership, but Super Bowl commercials seem to work. Otherwise, we don’t think they’d pay $3 million and up for some TV time.
13) AT&T Offers Unlimited Mobile to Mobile Calling
Making every attempt to impress current subscribers they have announced that they will be rolling out a new calling feature to some those currently on their network. They will allow users to make unlimited calls to any mobile phone, on any network. That’s right, certain AT&T subscribers will get free mobile calling, whether or not on the same carrier.
It will be available on Feburary 10 to those who subscribe to unlimited messaging and they must also have a “qualifying voice plan.” According to Ars, those include Nation 450 and 900 and well as FamilyTalk 700 and higher. They must also activate it here.
Competition is Good
We’ve already seen what happens when a popular product is limited to one provider. They do whatever the heck they want with it, and users have to either choose to deal with the limitations, or go somewhere else. At times, both choices suck. This time, we have one more choice, and this may be the one that truly matters. The Verizon iPhone is going to help AT&T by hitting them with the realization that they are no longer the only company with the ultra-popular smartphone.