File this one under "Sounds like a conspiracy theory but this is Verizon we're talking about."
According to a tipster to Phandroid, Verizon delayed the HTC Thunderbolt's original planned Valentine's Day launch for strategic reasons rather than technical issues. Supposedly the largest US wireless carrier wanted to avoid iPhone-buyers getting Apple iPhone-remorse, and bringing it back a few days later to exchange it for the first LTE phone available on Big Red. So, coupled with their new 14-day return policy (replacing the old 30-day grace period), Verizon is moving the Thunderbolt release date down so iPhone buyers can't exchange it for the Thunderbolt.
Yup, just like the Green Bay Packers, they're going to run out the clock. Don't think this is plausible? Well here are three things the Thunderbolt can do that the new Verizon iPhone 4 cannot:
- Use Verizon's new 4G network
- Serve as a 4G mobile hotspot for other wireless devices
- Transmit voice and data simultaneously
What's that? You live in a 3G city? No problem. Verizon won't tell you this, but the Thunderbolt supposedly can do simultaneous voice/data over 3G as well.
Here's even more juice: That 4G mobile hotspot capability is supposedly free. Yeah, I'm laughing at the idea of Verizon giving anything away for free too. And don't forget the incredible no-it-isn't yes-it-is no-it-isn't saga of whether the mobile hotspot feature will be available when the Thunderbolt launches. Perhaps it will be moot since we no longer have a Thunderbolt launch day, but at least we have a target: no earlier than February 24th.
Verizon would never admit this is the reason for the delay, of course. They'll mention technical issues, or the need to have Skype working, or the need to take away something that didn't play nice with the software, or even being overwhelmed by demand for CDMA iPhones from frustrated AT&T users. But the closer the new launch is to February 24th, the more likely this rumor may have something to it.
And just to be fair, I'll link to this site where the author says BS to the whole rumor. But he's not basing this conclusion on inside tips, or facts. He's basing it on the Thunderbolt not being an iPhone. He's got a specious comparison of an estimated 500,000 iPhones sold in a day compared to 300,000 Droids sold in a week. Hello? When the Motorola Droid was introduced, how many people had even heard of Android. And he's comparing this to the iPhone, which has been out for so long it's up to fourth generation?
We know the iPhone has its fans. Now let's see what happens on Verizon when its customers have a choice of the iPhone… or phones that can do much more. Let us know what you think about the whole situation in comments, below. Do you think Verizon is avoiding returns, or do you think there's another technical problem to solve?