Verizon iPhone Launch – Some Win, Some Fail.

So as an iPhone app developer, I am always looking for new providers to start carrying the iPhone.  I know of some people who absolutely loathe AT&T for whatever reason (usually hype rather than fact) – and love verizon for some reason….  They want iPhones – but have been waiting for the day when it comes on Verizon.

Well – it’s here today.  And I can tell you – this is a huge win for app developers like myself who hope to see Verizon knock this one out of the park and sell *another* 100 million iPhones.  After all, more phones = more app downloads (in general).

I’ll share more of my thoughts later when I have time – but for now – let’s go through the series of WINS and FAILS I see so far with today’s announcement:

  • WIN: AT&T Exclusivity Ends! 
  • WIN: Hardware costs the same as it does elsewhere ($199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB) 
  • WIN: Mobile Hotspot service enabled by default (Eat that, AT&T) 
  • WIN: All the remaining iPhone 4 bits are still there – HD Camera, Retina Display, etc ,etc. 
  • FAIL: Uses CDMA 3G instead of LTE.  Verizon and Apple said that’s “cause we wanted to get this out as soon as possible because people want it”.  I say, people waited for it long enough – what’s another few weeks?  The only reason to proceed down the path they have is to do what I call “George Lucas” their loyal customers by allowing them to buy a phone now, then getting them to buy another one again in a year.  Apple is really good at this and I’m betting this was their decision. 
  • HUGE FAIL: No simultaneous voice/data.  On the surface this doesn’t sound like an issue – but trust me, it sucks – Why – let me tell you…  THIS IS NOT limited to trying to talk on the phone and browse – who cares about that scenario, it’s rare.  The problem is that this means the phone simply cannot receive data and use the voice line at the same time

    So… one scenario where this is a huge problem is when you set up all of your mail accounts on your iPhone and you put them into a 10-minute auto-check cycle.  In this scenario – every 10 minutes, your phone WILL NOT receive voice calls for a short period.  If your phone is checking mail and someone calls in – guess what, goes to voicemail.  This is archaic and it’s the same problem we had with the original iPhone. 

    Worst part is, most people don’t even think about this scenario until it’s too late.  I didnt think about it until my girlfriend called me one day and said “I’ve been trying to call you all day, why does your phone always go to voicemail?” and it was because I had my original iPhone set on a 5 minute mail check cycle across 3 e-mail accounts.

    Important Note: This same issue would occur with any Verizon customer who is now using the CDMA network with their DROID phones, too – so it’s not new to the iPhone – it’s just a crappy limitation of CDMA networks.  I do have a friend who informed me that on his Sprint CDMA device – he can choose a “priority” for voice or data so that data doesn’t step on your voice calls and vice/versa – but I am not sure if this is standard issue CDMA function, a Sprint extension to a CDMA function, etc.  I’m not aware of whether Verizon supports this type of tech, nor whether the iPhone for Verizon will support this.  My guess is no.

    REGARDLESS – not being able to use voice/data simultaneously is not cool.  Even if the device supports “prioritization” – I don’t want to interrupt my voice calls with data sessions and I dont want to interrupt my data sessions with voice calls.  If I am connected to my new Verizon iPhone as a WiFi hotspot and sharing with 5 other people or devices – I dont want it to drop all of those just because a damned call comes in – yet I don’t want to miss my call either.  With newer networks – I wouldn’t have to compromise. 

  • FAIL: Why call a damned press conference if you’re not even going to announce the price of service on the thing.

Because of my experiences with the huge problems created when the phone cannot simultaneously use voice and data – for me, this is a no go.  This would mean that when you’re using the WiFi hotspot – chances are your device could never be used for a phone – which is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.  AT&T still has the advantage here since I can talk all day on my phone and it would still be checking my mail in the background.  I could also be checking my mail and still receive a phone call.

For now – the score is still AT&T 1, Verizon 0 in my book.  But I’m very happy to see this outward growth of carrier support in the USA – and I look forward to what this will mean in the future.  Competition usually is not a bad thing.

 

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