Verizon announces iPhone service, as expected

Verizon Wireless and Apple announced Tuesday – to the surprise of virtually no one who cares – that the iPhone will be released to Verizon customers.

The iPhone is the best piece of technology ever invented in the history of mankind, according to its owners.

Apple’s competitors, of course, disagree. Motorola’s Droid phone is so awesome it practically turns users into a cyborg, according to commercials.

Droid uses Google’s Android operating system, but is not the only smartphone to do so. That was different for the iPhone, however. Until Verizon service begins on its scheduled date of Feb. 10, iPhone users had to sign a contract with AT&T to use the popular smartphone.

Verizon customers have not been shut out of the smartphone market, of course. The carrier

Wireless carriers, however, seem to engender less brand loyalty than Apple. The Associated Press reports the news may mean some customers will switch carriers, but how many is hard to say. (Link updated.)

AT&T activated 11.1 million iPhones in the first nine months of 2010. Analysts now expect Verizon to snag some users from AT&T, but the impact will likely be muted because most iPhone users have two-year contracts, and many are on family and employer plans. Verizon did not reveal its service plan pricing on Tuesday.

Verizon’s iPhone version will work only on the carrier’s current “3G” network even though the carrier has fired up a faster “4G” network in many cities. That super-fast wireless data network is available only to plug-in laptop modems for now, but Verizon will have smart phones for it this summer.

Cook said the first generation of “4G” phone chips would have forced some design compromises, which Apple wasn’t willing to make.

“Secondly and most importantly, Verizon customers have told us they want the iPhone now,” Cook said. “I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked and my colleagues have been asked . When will the iPhone work on the Verizon network?”

The lack of 4G means the Verizon iPhone will have much slower data speeds than AT&T’s, at least in the areas where AT&T has upgraded its 3G network. AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel was quick to point this out, along with the fact that users won’t be able to surf and talk at the same time on the Verizon iPhone. International roaming will also be
very limited compared with the AT&T version.

However, Verizon has much wider domestic 3G coverage than AT&T does, especially in the interior of the country. In the big cities of the coasts, iPhone service can be spotty because of crowding on AT&T’s network.

Although Verizon did not announce its service plan price, the company plans to sell the iPhone 4 at $199 for the 16 GB model or $299.99 for the 32 GB model with a two-year contract.