Will Verizon Remain on top If the iPhone Doesn’t Come in 2011?

Verizon Wireless is often touted as the largest wireless carrier in the United States and rightfully so, but the line dividing first place from second place is growing thinner and thinner. According to Apple Insider, some of the most recent figures place Verizon’s number of customers at 92.1 million compared to AT&T’s 90.1 million. A big part of the closing gap is AT&T’s exclusivity deal that has locked Apple’s iPhone into its network since 2007.

Verizon’s response to the iPhone has been heavy advertising of smart phones running Google’s Android operating system. However, since the iPhone 4 was released, even that isn’t helping Verizon much. Check out the chart from Asymco and ITG Investment Research below:

That put things into perspective better? Since the high point in August, Verizon’s smart phone sales have been dropping. With the iPhone 4s end of June release date and the supply problems Apple faced at first, it’s pretty clear that the more available the new iPhone has become, the less Verizon phones sold. This begs the question: what if Verizon doesn’t get the iPhone in 2011?

Verizon iPhone rumors have been circulating since before the first iPhone even came out in 2007. Who’s to say that Verizon really will get a version of the iPhone early next year? Neither company has made anything official and so far, the Verizon iPhone rumors are all just speculation. No leaked documents have surfaced and no executive has spoken off the record (though the WSJ and some other big papers have run stories claiming Verizon is getting the iPhone next year). Can Verizon remain on top if it doesn’t get an iPhone? With its declining smart phone sales and AT&T’s strong work towards improving its own wireless network, the balance appears to be shifting quickly towards AT&T’s favor.

Don’t get me wrong. I want a Verizon iPhone as much as anyone but I will believe it when I see it. I’ve been disappointed before and I don’t know if I can survive another year waiting for a Verizon iPhone. Verizon might not be able to keep its place on top without it.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Will AT&T become the largest carrier in the U.S. if Verizon doesn’t get the iPhone soon? It’s more likely than you think and Apple will be the one deserving the credit.

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