TechCrunch Claiming iPhone to Verizon in January – What if?

There’s an interesting post up on TechCrunch that makes a pretty bold claim. From the site:

Smartphones like the iPhone are built from a collection of components, which are sourced individually from suppliers—e.g. the iPhone 4’s cellular baseband (the core chipset used in mobile phones to handle voice and data communications) comes from Infineon and its GPS chipset from Broadcom.

Component purchases and manufacturing starts don’t typically reveal strong links to individual handset OEMs. But in some cases components have a DNA which is traceable through the supply chain. For example, iPad rumors became much more concrete when we knew Apple was procuring large LCD screens.

For typical refreshes of GSM-based iPhones (the model that works on AT&T’s network), suppliers and component product families remain fairly consistent between models.  But a Verizon compatible iPhone would be CDMA-based, which would make its DNA distinct from other iPhones and traceable through the supply chain.

Alright, so let’s take a moment here and assume that these rumors are true. Let’s say that Apple’s contract with AT&T is up, and come January, we’ll get some sweet, sweet, Verizon iPhone lovin. What needs to happen for this to work out with customers?

Fact is, millions of people resigned with AT&T with their new iPhone, and with that comes higher ETF fees. That means that those people are less likely to buy a new iPhone with Verizon unless it comes with a super sweet deal. So here’s my thought:

Verizon offers a substantial discount to AT&T iPhone users with a current contract to counterbalance the ETF fees. This will cause a hit in the pocketbooks of Verizon short term, but it should bring more people over. Those people will have two-year contracts of their own, and considering AT&T’s track record of crappy service, people aren’t likely to switch back.

Otherwise, January isn’t an option. Yes, Verizon would get some customers over on their side – those willing to pay the expensive ETF fees – but most will wait it out with AT&T until their contract is up. That means that Verizon is going to lose potential customers along the way, and that’s just not a great option.

I still think that the iPhone is moving carriers, but I’m not quite as sure about January.

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