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New iPhone Customers Could Flow to Verizon While AT&T Bleeds

By Sidney Hill MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Aug 17, 2010 10:23 AM PT

All the media reports predicting the impending end of AT&T's run as the exclusive carrier of iPhones in the U.S. apparently has a lot of iPhone users looking forward to the day they can switch networks.

New iPhone Customers Could Flow to Verizon While AT&T Bleeds

No one knows for sure when Apple will bestow the rights to sell the iPhone to another carrier, but there have been numerous signs in recent weeks pointing to the possible unveiling of a Verizon iPhone as soon as January 2011.

In apparent anticipation of that development, 34 percent of current iPhone owners are holding off on upgrading their phones until the iPhone becomes available through another carrier, according to a survey conducted by Morpace.

Roughly 47 percent of current AT&T iPhone subscribers responding to the survey said they would at least consider switching to Verizon if that option were available, and close to 25 percent said they would be somewhat or very likely to make that change.

Major Customer Shift

This apparent eagerness to bolt from AT&T is related, at least in part, to recurring problems iPhone users have experienced with slow data transmission and dropped calls on the AT&T network, but the Morpace survey indicates that AT&T is not the only carrier that's likely to lose customers to a new iPhone supplier.

"The numbers related to current iPhone customers show there will be a fair amount of switching within that population," Jay Heyboer, vice president of technology and advanced analytics at Morpace, told MacNewsWorld. "But this was a survey of all mobile customers. We looked at folks with any phone from any carrier, and we found that the bulk of the interest in a Verizon iPhone will come from customers on networks that don't already have the iPhone, including current Verizon customers."

Indeed, 51 percent of current Verizon customers participating in the survey said they are somewhat or very likely to adopt an iPhone if it becomes available on the Verizon network. Twenty percent of customers across the four major carriers -- AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile -- said they would adopt a Verizon iPhone if given the choice.

Verizon iPhone Sparks Huge Interest

"We're not taking these numbers as any type of forecast or prediction," Heyboer said. "The intent of the survey was to measure the potential interest in a Verizon iPhone, and the results suggest that the interest is considerable."

Morpace's numbers are based on an online survey involving 1,000 U.S. mobile phone users during the week of July 15 to July 20. Only 100 current iPhone users participated in the survey, which means the results related to their intentions to switch networks are somewhat less reliable than those for the entire population of mobile phone users.

"For current AT&T customers, the margin of error is plus or minus 10 points," Heyboer said. "It's a small but adequate sample size."

By contrast, there were roughly 300 participants for each mobile carrier in the survey, Heyboer noted, placing the margin for error regarding their intentions at plus or minus 5 points.

No Service Guarantees

"It is possible that nearly half of AT&T's iPhone users would want to switch to a Verizon iPhone in early 2011," Brian Marshall, senior analyst with Broadpoint AmTech, told MacNewsWorld. "The average iPhone customer in cities like New York and San Francisco is extremely displeased with the quality of service."

However, changing networks won't necessarily guarantee better service, Heyboer warned.

"How will Verizon handle the increased traffic that the iPhone would bring to its network?" he asked. "Verizon already has said they are experiencing some of the same issues as AT&T due to increased traffic from Android phones on its network."

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