iPhone Would Be a Hit With Verizon Wireless Users: Report

A survey by a market research firm found that if an iPhone were available to Verizon Wireless customers, more than half of those surveyed would switch to it. Considering Verizon has more than 90 million subscribers, that's a lot of iPhones.

In yet another sign of Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) dominance, the report by market researcher ChangeWave found 53 percent of Verizon customers would be either "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to switch to a Verizon iPhone should one come out.

ChangeWave found that on average, 49 percent of people surveyed said that if the iPhone came out on their carrier, they would be very likely or somewhat likely to switch to Apple's popular smartphone. T-Mobile customers were least likely to switch, at 39 percent, while 44 percent of Sprint/Nextel customers said they wanted an iPhone.

"The survey results show an unprecedented level of pent up demand for the iPhone among Verizon subscribers. If Verizon were ever to offer the iPhone, the evidence points to it having a profound and likely transformational impact on the industry," wrote the survey's authors.

Apple is expected to introduce a new iPhone this summer, possibly at its Worldwide Developer Conference in the second week of June. An early prototype was recently found in a Bay Area bar and shown on gadget blog Gizmodo, spawning a major legal controversy over how Gizmodo obtained the phone.

Apple has an exclusive contract with AT&T Wireless, but the length of the contract hasn't been publicly disclosed. Some believe it's for three years, which means it would end this year, while some reports put the contract length at five years.

Grading AT&T's Network Performance

The survey results weren't the only bad news for AT&T. After being pummeled in the media and by consumers for poor phone call quality and a high rate of dropped calls, AT&T Wireless publicly acknowledged the problem and said it would invest $2 billion in upgrading the network and even worked with Apple to improve network performance.

But ChangeWave survey shows AT&T still has work to do. Over the course of the month of March, ChangeWave asked 4,040 smartphone users how satisfied they were with their provider. Verizon Wireless, the joint wireless effort by Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodaphone, came in first place, with 49 percent saying they were very satisfied. Sprint/Nextel was second with 35 percent satisfaction, followed by T-Mobile at 23 percent, tied with AT&T Wireless.

When asked about how many dropped calls they had experienced in the past three months, Verizon had the best rate, with 1.5 percent of calls dropped. AT&T Wireless was worst, with 4.5 percent of calls dropped. In March 2009, Verizon had a 1.8 percent rate and AT&T had a 3.3 percent rate.

The one bit of good news is that AT&T customers are hanging in there. When asked if they would leave their current provider, 14 percent of T-Mobile customers said they would, the highest rate of the four providers. Sprint followed with 10 percent, then AT&T with 8 percent and Verizon with 7 percent.

Where would they go? To Verizon, according to 27 percent of respondents. AT&T was second with 18 percent, following by Sprint at 7 percent and T-Mobile at 5 percent. Plans to go to AT&T are at their lowest level ever. In March of 2009, 30 percent of people ready to switch had said AT&T and in September 2008, that figure was 37 percent.

However, most customers are staying put. Only 3 percent said they were very likely to leave their current provider, compared with 86 percent who said they were unlikely to leave their provider.

AT&T, meanwhile, begged to differ on ChangeWave's findings.

"The statistically valid drive test shows the AT&T network continues to deliver the nation's fastest 3G network and near best-in-class call retainability nationwide. AT&T's network dropped only 1.44 percent of calls nationwide, within two-tenths of 1 percent of the industry leader and a difference of less than two calls out of 1,000," an AT&T spokesperson said in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.

Apple did not return requests for comment.

Verizon has enjoyed a considerable gain in subscribers thanks to the Motorola Droid, according to ChangeWave. In March 2009, just 18 percent of those surveyed were planning on going to Verizon. But by December, that number had risen to 31 percent.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


wireless, iPhone, Apple, Verizon, AT&T