Perhaps no consumer electronics device launch has been more anticipated as this week’s iPhone launch. Engadget reveals that AT&T is even offering instructions to store managers and landlords on how to properly manage iPhone buying frenzies. 3screens.net compares it to the arrival of the Beatles. Apple and AT&T are either thrilled at the prospects or petrified that the reality won’t live up to the hype. Competitors to AT&T are also fairly anxious this week. They can only hope that the market research firm M:Metrics has it wrong when they predict that 67 percent of those who were most inclined to purchase an iPhone are subscribers on other carrier networks. Will that translate in to a mass exodus from the likes of Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile? Probably not, but they are certain to feel some pain.
The Washington Post published a great article over the weekend, outlining how competitors are reacting to the iPhone launch. In the article, they postulate that Sprint may be the most vulnerable, due to their already defecting subscriber base and poor acceptance of its closest iPhone rival, the Samsung Upstage. Comcast, Time Warner, and Cox can’t be too thrilled with these Sprint musings. Much has been said about the iPhone’s impact on traditional wireless competitors – but what about Pivot Wireless ? The iPhone is launching at precisely the time Pivot is trying to gain a foothold. Not exactly the greatest timing. While Sprint may be the most vulnerable, they are certainly not alone. The aforementioned M:Metrics research reveals that 8.1% of Sprint’s , 12.5% of T-Mobile’s, and 6.7% of Verizon Wireless’ customers expressed interest in the iPhone. iPhone clones have already begun appearing as well. Mobile Magazine reveals one from iRiver – the iRiver W10. All competing carriers will have some type of iPhone response – with veritable winners and losers to come.
I believe it’s too early to make many of the predictions you hear and see about the iPhone revolutionizing the still young mobile wireless Internet revolution. No question, its initial impact will be impressive – but its long term effect remains to be seen. We all know that consumers can be fickle. The iPhone is not without its challenges, including a high entry cost and spotty service coverage for the AT&T/Cingular network. Let’s give it some time before we crown it as the ‘second coming.’