There has been a truly interesting path to get to this point. Each year, the rumors would reach a crescendo just in time for Verizon to introduce a new line of other devices, including the Android handsets. This time also included the multiple nationwide campaigns by Verizon bashing the iPhone and its functionality in favor of its own Droid line of handsets (by writing the word “Droid,” I hope I don’t owe George Lucas a royalty just as Motorola does for each phone sold).
With all the hype, here are the important points to recognize. The smartphone market comes down to three primary components and variables:
- Operating System
- Handset Seller/Manufacturer
- Wireless Carrier
In opening up to Verizon, Apple has not actually relinquished any of its control, continuing to unilaterally direct its iOS and sell its own handsets exclusively. While much of the attention is on Verizon vs. AT&T, the focus should really be on the expansion of Apple’s battleground with Google. Apple is executing a well-planned strategy to exert its authority for U.S. smartphone market share. With Google’s approach being more laissez-faire, with many manufacturers and many wireless carriers, we are witnessing the 21st century war of business models.
For brands and marketers, this creates a vastly expanded opportunity to engage consumers, without increasing mobile development budgets at the same clip. For example, a branded iPhone app just doubled its potential audience size without actually adding any development dollars. Apple brings the iTunes app store to every new environment, Verizon included.
Advertising also just got a bit simpler. Each of the major four mobile ad networks--Google AdMob, Apple iAd, Millennial and JumpTap--serve ads into iPhone apps and mobile web pages. The Verizon iPhone deal enables the smart marketer to merely increase their mobile buys, and take advantage of the new iPhone consumer base. In fact, the inclusion of a second wireless carrier can add a new level of targeting, for the right companies. Regardless, brands that adjust and enhance their creative appropriately will be the winners in the near-term.
The Verizon deal may be the first of more to follow. As Verizon runs a CDMA network, just like Sprint, is it much of a stretch to see the iPhone showing up there? Or now that Apple has broken the single carrier boundary, why not expand its GSM offerings to T-Mobile as well. The battle will only get more interesting from here.
Jordan Greene is the head of the mobile advisory practice for Mella Media. Follow him on Twitter @GreeneMarket (www.twitter.com/GreeneMarket).