John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Verizon Android Users Probably Just Holding Out for iPhone 5

If the debut of the iPhone on Verizon didn’t trigger quite the mass exodus of Android users some had expected, it could be because the carrier is more of a stronghold for Google’s mobile OS than anyone expected. But there might be another reason, as well.

Verizon’s Android users are waiting for the iPhone 5. And when it arrives this fall, they’ll make the switch en masse. That’s the theory put forth by Needham analyst Charlie Wolf, who believes the simultaneous debut of the iPhone 5 on both GSM and CDMA networks will herald the beginning of Android’s share loss in the U.S.

Wolf suspects initial sales of the iPhone 4 on Verizon were less than what they might have been because the device launched on the network eight months after it debuted on AT&T and many VZ subscribers decided they’d rather wait for its next iteration before upgrading — particularly those under contract, who would have had to pay an early termination fee to switch. Why pay a $350 ETF to switch to the iPhone 4, when you may not have to pay one at all if you wait a few months for the iPhone 5? And if you have to pay it anyway, why not make sure you pay it for the newest hardware available?

“It’s reasonable to assume that a material percentage of Verizon subscribers who plan to switch were content to wait until the iPhone 5 arrived later this year,” says Wolf. “One reason Apple delayed the launch of iPhone 5 until September is that it reportedly plans to coordinate the launch of the GSM and CDMA versions of the phone. To do so in June would likely have upset Verizon subscribers who purchased iPhone 4 in the preceding months. It’s our expectation, then, that the anticipated surge in iPhone sales on the Verizon network is likely to occur this fall after Apple launches iPhone 5.”

And that’s when we’ll see some real erosion in Android’s market share in the States. In fact, it’s beginning already. According to Wolf, Android’s share of the U.S. smartphone market fell to 49 percent from 52 percent in the March quarter. Meanwhile, the iPhone’s share rose to 29.5 percent from 17.2.

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