Who has the most to lose if Verizon really is getting the Apple iPhone next January?
Well, sure, AT&T. Almost everyone agrees that Big Red has the better network, and AT&T losing its exclusive deal with Apple will lead to iPhone lovers leaping to another carrier.
But Motorola has a lot to lose, too. Today Moto launches their DROID 2 smartphone, on the heels of their DROID X's successful sellout in July. With those two highly desirable Android phones in Verizon's lineup, Motorola should be eagerly planning their next Verizon offerings.
But those Verizon-iPhone rumors just keep getting more believable. TechCrunch explains why the latest chatter has something to it: Big orders for Qualcomm CDMA chipsets producing this December. The existing iPhones use GSM chipsets from Infineon. Verizon uses CDMA instead of GSM, so Apple would need to arrange for chipsets that can speak Verizon's language.
So does this keep Motorola's CEO Sanjay Jha up at night? If it does, he's not letting on. Jha spoke to analysts this Tuesday at a technology conference, and maintains Moto's DROID X is as good as the iPhone.
"We compete with (Apple) today," Mr. Jha says. "I don't think the economic value we bring to Verizon is any less important if the iPhone is there. I believe the Droid X is every bit as good as iPhone. (If the iPhone comes to Verizon) we have to compete. I believe we will innovate faster."
Jha expects Verizon will still back Motorola's DROID line because it's been a proven winner. Their original DROID was the best-selling Android phone in the US last quarter. A survey by Changewave showing more than half of Verizon's customers want an iPhone can't be good news for Moto's future Big Red product line. Jha can take heart that the survey was taken in March, before the DROID X and DROID 2 launches. "It seems unnatural for them to walk away from Droid," he said. "I don't think the value we bring to Verizon becomes any less important when the iPhone is there."
Instead, Jha is trying to make lemonade out of those Verizon iPhone lemons: if the iPhone comes to Verizon, then Motorola can return the favor. "When the exclusivity goes away at AT&T, the motivation to have other players there is definitely going to be higher," he said.
Let's take a look at some of those Changewave survey numbers again while we taste-test that lemonade recipe.
I don't think that getting to sell phones with AT&T is quite the opportunity he says it will be.
And this is why the first chart looks like it does.
You see, if you want to make lemonade from lemons, you also need water and sugar.
But look at the bright side. Maybe the iPhone going head to head with the DROID X is an opportunity to find out if those calls are dropped because of AT&T's network... or because of the iPhone.
Speaking of lemons, Jha had a few things to say about those tiered data plans that are coming to AT&T, and probably Verizon when they move to 4G. He assumes customers will have to actively manage their data use as carriers move away from unlimited data. For example, applications could queue uploading to wait until the user is connected to a WiFi network, instead of using the carrier's 3G or 4G network.