Microsoft revealed today that AT&T would be its premier U.S. partner for its new Windows Phone devices, which are supposed to go on sale before the end of the year. (It has also been in touch with Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile, the other big U.S. carriers.)
It’s unknown whether Microsoft’s phones will be on time, if they’ll be any good, or if people will want to buy them. All we know so far is that they’re coming, and that Microsoft’s new operating system looks very good at first blush.
No matter what, this is one more big reason that Apple should drop its AT&T exclusive for the iPhone this year and sell the iPhone at Verizon Wireless, the no. 1 U.S. wireless carrier.
Presumably, AT&T has promised Microsoft that it will stock a certain number of phones, spend a certain amount of money marketing Windows Phones, etc. This will come at some expense to Apple’s iPhone, which has been AT&T’s flagship smartphone since it went on sale in June, 2007.
Apple must stay ahead of the game by broadening its distribution channel at least to Verizon, and preferably to all four major U.S. carriers.
Why Verizon? To recap…
- Verizon Wireless is the biggest U.S. carrier by a considerable margin
- Verizon is believed to have a better mobile data network, whereas AT&T’s has been unreliable in big cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, etc.
- There are many people — millions, perhaps — who won’t buy an iPhone until it’s available for Verizon
- AT&T is many iPhone owners’ main complaint about the phone and some subscribers have left Apple for rival brands because of it
- The smartphone industry is a platform land grab and Apple can’t leave major entry points for competitors
- Verizon has been selling a ton of Google Android phones like Verizon’s Droid, so selling the iPhone at Verizon could help slow Android’s rise
- Apple stands to make around the same amount of money per phone either way — the company has said that it does not expect wholesale price differences in markets where it brings on other carriers after ending exclusive periods