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.

verizon-iphone

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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