Bloomberg News reports that Verizon is getting ready to distribute iPhones in January. Up till now the GSM based iPhone could not operate on the CDMA system that the largest U.S. phone carrier uses.
Credit Suisse estimates that AT&T could lose as many as 1.4 million smartphone users to Verizon in 2011 alone. In a survey, 23% of AT&T users said they would switch as soon as possible, and 18 percent said they would wait until their contract expires.
AT&T has been the exclusive carrier for iPhone ever since they were launched in 2007. Apple is rumored to already be building iPhones that will operate over CDMA based networks.
When AT&T loses its exclusivity arrangement with Apple and the iPhone can suddenly roam to other carriers, some AT&T investors are beginning to worry about losing a lot of the smartphone business to Verizon. What will happen to their share prices then?
A recent poll from professional services firm Deloitte found that when they asked iPhone users if they could dump AT&T and move to Verizon Wireless … nearly half said they would be “very interested”. AT&T iPhone users have had a lot of trouble with the AT&T network … but up to now have been trapped if they wanted to use an iPhone.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson spoke at a Goldman Sachs investors meeting and said that losing a large number of users to Verizon after the exclusivity ends was unlikely. He pointed out that about 80% of iPhone users either got their phones through a business or were on family plans and thus wouldn’t change.