"If the press write something long enough, eventually it comes true," Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said on stage in New York this morning at the company's much-anticipated event, packed with tech bloggers and broadcasters, including the Daily Show's John Oliver screaming, "Fuck yeah! Thank you!" before the big show. With Apple COO Tim Cook in tow, McAdam finally announced what we've all been waiting for: the Verzion iPhone exists! And it will go on sale early next month. Although McAdam hyped up Verizon's recently launched Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, which it will use as its 4G technology of choice, the Verizon iPhone was made, as expected, with components to connect to its existing 3G CDMA network — something analysts have worried could slow the connection down. The phone will have features like FaceTime, as well as "5 megapixel camera, HD video ... the custom A4 chip," said Cook. Verizon's Dan Dee, sporting a 'stache worthy of the Cohen brothers, then came onstage to emphasize that Verizon has advanced the capacity and margin of its network, stressing that it's ready for the launch, although it's throwing in a mobile hot spot, possibly with an additional fee. Existing customers will be able to preorder the phone February 3. Everyone else can order it ($199 for the 16GB, $299 for 32GB) online or in Verizon and Apple stores on February 10.
Cook fielded questions about why the iPhone wouldn't premiere on Verizon's LTE network, noting that first-generation chips would force design changes and delay the release, "And Verizon customers told us they want the iPhone now." Acknowledgments about other drawbacks of using CDMA, such as the inability to use data when you're on a call, were brushed over quickly (Apple's GSM network allows users to access data and voice simultaneously.) It remains to be seen if that step backward will dampen consumer interest. But changes were made to the antennae, so at least Steve Jobs won't have to tell you how you're doing that wrong again, morons.
You didn't think AT&T was just going to drop it like a call did you? No, siree. Not content to just let Verizon suffer the $3 billion to $5 billion in subsidies (at about $400 a pop) it's expected to shell out this year in order to lower costs, AT&T is planning on launching a new ad campaign trumpeting its superior speed and functionality. Aww, that means a new indie rock band just got its wings! Last summer's offer of an immediate trade-up as long as users signed a two-year contract also helped bring its iPhone subscriber number up to 18.4 million at the end of 2010, 86 percent of which will be under contract.
That lock-in, as well as consumer inertia, will likely work in the company's favor. Not to mention the fact that it spent some time at the Consumer Electronics Show making googly eyes at Google's Android operating system to reduce its iPhone dependency. Despite the disruptive competition, AT&T didn't lose the iPhone, just its exclusivity. As was made clear during today's press conference, Verizon doesn't have that, either, which means Apple could farm its newly minted CDMA iPhones out to another carrier. Although since the Verizon deal was years in the making, it's unlikely you'll see it anytime soon. And at that point, why not just wait until everyone's on 4G?
In the meantime, put some popcorn in the microwave and get a good seat, the iPhone War is just getting started.
Live from Verizon's iPhone event [Engadget]
IPhone May Cost Verizon $5 Billion in First Year [Businessweek]
AT&T Preps iPhone Plan [WSJ]
AT&T: Five reasons the sky won't fall when iPhone goes to Verizon [ZDNet]
Related: Verizon and AT&T Bitch-Slap Each Other: The Coming iPhone War