May, 11 2010

I can’t even keep up with which rumor is true at this point. Contradicting reports are everywhere concerning what everyone is pinning the biggest tech story of the year on: the iPhone 4/4G/HD or whatever it ends up being called dropping its AT&T exclusive brand and heading to Verizon. Depending on who you ask, Apple may be locked in with AT&T for another 2 years after signing a supposed 5 year exclusivity contract, or maybe advertising company Landor Associates is feverishly slaving away at an iPhone campaign for Verizon for an upcoming summer release.


Great. Does it even matter? Aside from the fact that Apple could use a larger customer base — as the latest numbers indicate they may be running the vein dry over at AT&T — is the issue of what carrier the iPhone lands on really of the world-changing relevancy it may have been a year or two ago? I just can’t see it that way. According to a report by NPD Group (and verified by numbers in AdMob’s latest metrics report), Android has surpassed the iPhone to become the second-most installed handset in the US.

Apple, of course, has their own take on those figures. They are quick to cite that worldwide their iPhone OS devices currently hold a 16.1 percent share of the global market. Great figures for a smartphone — that is if it weren’t lumping in the iPod touch. A decent PR tactic, shifting the figures to a global view and padding them out with a secondary device, but its just a bit more smoke and fire to distract from the real issue at hand: the iPhone’s waning importance.

The iPhone gave the world its first taste of what a truly integrated smartphone could do, but the growth of other platforms has rendered the once-feared monopolizing power of Apple’s flagship mobile device moot. Will an iPhone HD on Verizon doom Android? Why would this ever be the case? If I had to venture a guess, it would be that many still see Android’s success as the result of it being the next-best choice for people on carriers not called AT&T. If you refuse to believe the numbers, so be it, but I don’t think a platform grows to be the second-most popular by simply being the “poor man’s” iPhone.

Sure a new iPhone is coming this summer. Hey, it may even be coming to Verizon. But with a plethora of handsets spanning from mid-range text-machines to HD video-capturing uber-phones coming to several carriers in the same period, Android provides consumers with one thing Apple never has, regardless of carrier: choice.

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