Will the Verizon iPhone Live Up to the Hype?

One of the most talked about product launches might finally arrive. For nearly a year, rumors have swirled about the mythical Verizon iPhone – a smartphone that would, until now, have been incompatible with Verizon’s CDMA network. However, it is reported that 5-6 million CDMA compatible iPhones are being shipped during the beginning of 2011. This is a strong indicator that Verizon will be introducing an iPhone on their network in January, but probably not at CES.

What does this mean? For iPhone app developers, it will likely mean an increase in app sales. Facebook will likely see a huge increase in users of their mobile app platform, which means a larger and more comprehensive market should Facebook start utilizing mobile advertising in 2011. (Of course, a Verizon iPhone is only competition to any sort of super-secret Facebook phone in development.) More mobile app users will yield a push for more, and better, development of apps that meet the mobile consumers’ needs.

However, despite all the hype, the global impact of a Verizon iPhone – especially one launching in January – will be at most minimal. Many iPhones were given as gifts over the holidays, and now that these AT&T users are locked into a contract, they are not likely to convert over to Verizon for a CDMA phone (unless they want exorbitant contract cancellation fees). Also, despite the popularity and trendiness of the iPhone, many cell phone users just want a basic phone that can, at most, text and send a picture message. Many baby boomers – and older – just don’t need the features of a smartphone. A majority of cell phone users don’t have the budget for an iPhone and accompanying expensive data plan. Verizon will definitely be appeasing a decent sized segment of their current customer base with an iPhone on the Verizon network, but the phone will unlikely make a dramatic impact that matches the hype.

It’s also unlikely a Verizon iPhone will slow the growth of Android phone sales. Blackberry users who currently use the Verizon network are the most likely candidates to switch. Already used to expensive all-you-can-eat data and tired of RIM’s failure to add new features, we might see a shrinking population of Blackberry devices on the Verizon network the day Apple and Verizon finally get together in public. In the meantime, I’m happy with my Fascinate.

Would you buy a Verizon iPhone? Or are you satisfied with the features of your current phone (or smartphone)?