I hate to say it, but I really think Apple needs Verizon. I love my iPhone and I love Apple, but it isn’t hard to see that they aren’t the only game in town anymore.
Verizon or even Sprint is good news for Apple. The Android is eating the iPhone’s lunch in the US and you didn’t need the NPD report to know it. Android is on every carrier and comes in all shapes and sizes. You can pick up a Droid for $20 or you can pick up an Incredible or EVO for $200 with two year plans on better networks than AT&T’s. The software that Google makes isn’t bad (just like Windows isn’t bad compared to the MacOS) and the hardware that HTC is now making is flat out better than the iPhone 3GS. Some Apple fans will have a hard time reconciling that, but after playing with the HTC EVO tonight, there is no way anyone can convince me that an iPhone 3GS is even close.
The iPhone has better software most of the time, and the 4th Gen iPhone will be smaller and thinner. But if you were buying a phone on hardware and carrier alone since the Nexus One, Incredible and now EVO came out, you’d have a hard time justifying the iPhone 3GS. It is basically the same 320×480 screen device that was introduced in 2007 with a faster processor, GPS, a plastic back and a few other tweaks.
Sure, there are tons of apps on the iPhone. But Maps are better on Android. I use those a lot. So is voice navigation (Apple recently bought Siri to fight back). Google Voice and Google Apps integration are awesome. Android 2.1 screen resolution makes browsing better than the iPhone 3GS. (OLED vs. LCD is another story) Sure, the next iPhone will catch up to Android’s resolution, but from January to June, Android had iPhone beat. Android has an official Twitter app now too. Their Facebook and Youtube Apps are every bit as good as Apple’s. In fact, most apps on Android are as good as they are on iPhone.
It’s not all good for Android, however. The interface still isn’t as polished as Apple’s. It isn’t as intuitive. There aren’t as many apps. But just like Windows, it is plenty good enough.
And Google is playing nice with everyone. They have partners in Adobe, all of the carriers, advertisers and they treat their developers better without cryptic rules and moral judgements.
The reality is that Apple needs to start making moves.
As Steve Jobs told the town hall meeting at Apple, they have a fight on their hands. If Apple wants to fall to #2 or #3 in markets where it competes with Android and become a bit player, all they have to do is keep on trucking with AT&T. I’m pretty sure that everyone who is willing to get on AT&T’s network already has an iPhone.
If Apple wants a shot at the rest of the US populace, they had better start making some inroads with Verizon.