Verizon iPhone and Android
The iPhone is launching on Verizon, and the mobile industry is all atwitter about it. As an iOS developer myself I’m certainly happy to see it. It’s clear that this will expand Apple’s (and therefore my) audience to some extent, and that’s nothing but positive. It’ll be a good thing for everyone except AT&T, and for them I don’t think it will be disastrous.
As I said before the iPhone launched, people largely choose their carrier first and their phone second. While the iPhone has done a better job of getting people to jump ship than any other mobile device, that paradigm still hasn’t really changed.
What this means is that Apple is about to shift a good chunk of units on Verizon. Surveys seem to indicate about 20% of AT&T customers will switch with their next upgrade, which won’t help AT&T with their perennial war for the largest carrier in the US. It also means we could expect to see Apple as much as double their US sales of iPhones in 2011.
But what it also means is that this won’t really be a game changing event. Android is now activating somewhere around three times as many units per day as Apple, and even if 100% of Verizon iPhone owners choose it over Android, it won’t put much of a dent in that. Apple only sells something like 20% of their units in the US anyway, which means even if iPhone sales here double, they’re looking at an overall 20% growth.
Furthermore, Android is now becoming a serious competitor to iOS in the tablet space. The iPhone had no serious competition in the consumer smart phone space for almost three years, the iPad will have it in less than one.
What does all that mean for app developers? Right now not much. The Android app store experience is so poor that even a 3-5x multiple of users still doesn’t make it as compelling of a development environment for someone developing standalone apps. It’s perhaps more compelling for those making apps that they will use as a continuation of their brand (think online banking) but for a developer making an app for the sole purpose of profiting from it directly, the iOS platform is still looking substantially better.