Why I won’t be buying a Verizon iPhone

Date February 24, 2011

I am a convert.

In 1998 I got my first cell phone while in graduate school. I went with Sprint and don’t really know why now, but it was the place to be back then. That first phone lasted about a year until this cool new Nokia came out (I can’t even begin to tell you the model names). I immediately ordered that phone (and Nokia still does make nice hardware but they’re bigger overseas), but when my wife and I moved across the country to begin our professional lives and marriage I really didn’t need it. I knew no one in AZ essentially and went to work or home. No one to call.

I was an anomaly then. People didn’t have mobile phones like they do now. To save money, I really didn’t use it and didn’t have much use for a mobile for another year until my best friend was buying a new phone and had a buy two and get a deal. I convinced the wife and ended up with a new phone. These were basics that barely even texted. I was still with Sprint and had been happy with them. The service was where I was, the prices were reasonable (especially since I signed up so early and got grandfathered in).

Fast forward through my first few smart phones, and suddenly other companies had cooler phones. They had faster, cooler, easier to use phones. I still had my Sprint phone and by now the wife had been with me in Sprint for a few years. Then the iPhone came out, and it was a hit. All of my friends thought I’d be the first in line now that I’d spent the last decade working in Instructional Technology but I didn’t. I had no desire to be with AT&T (or Cingular or AT&T) or whatever it was called that year. I’d checked out the plans once and discovered I’d have to pay almost double what I pay now to have a second line with a flip phone (for the wife who didn’t care much at that point about phones). I told them where they could stick their phone, even if the iPhone really was that cool.

Two years ago I was still waiting for Sprint to get really cool phones and they still weren’t. At this same time my parents bought a new house, out in the middle of nowhere. They’d jumped onto the Sprint bandwagon with me about a half a decade ago (mostly because they didn’t care who they went with and Sprint let Mum call me for free all she wanted if she had their phone, too). Unfortunately their new home had terrible Sprint service. Terrible to the point where we literally could use NONE of our phones ANYWHERE on their property. Sprint even came out to check. We bought service booster to no avail and finally Sprint acquiesced and let them out of their contract. They signed up with the only company that worked in their new area: Verizon.

By now Verizon had been gaining ground and was a direct competitor to Sprint, and, in some ways, bypassing Sprint. The rumors of an eventual Sprint iPhone began to emerge, too. Many people I talked to thought this would never happen, and I always dreamed of a Sprint iPhone. By the time my parents jumped ship to Verizon from Sprint, the need for unlimited phone to phone on the same network was a moot point because of the new “unlimited plans”. All the while I was still waiting for a new, awesome phone. By now the best I could come up with were Blackberry phones and my Curve was pretty cool and worked well, but RIM was coming out with their Touch at this time as the next best thing and it flopped terribly (maybe they made money but I didn’t know anyone who liked it). RIM (for non corporation users) seemed to become stagnant and in the meantime this new OS called Android that I’d been hearing rumors about for years really hit mainstream. Verizon grabbed onto the Android market and ran! Partially, I think it was due to their lack of iPhone.

By now I was sick of Sprint. I’d been with them for about a decade and I had good customer service because I knew their key words, I knew who to call, and I knew what to say. (I’d even threatened to leave to get a free Curve when it was released. Yes, Free). Verizon was getting these cool Android phones pushing 1GhZ that had an APP Market that slowly grew to compete with Apple, and Sprint, well, Sprint had nothing. Nada. They had merged with Nextel and that didn’t make sense to anyone except maybe Nextel customers. There were (and still are) a few smaller outfits (like T-Mobile) that never made sense to me and were never really on my radar.

But then the Droid hit the market. I was locked into my Curve contract and knew the wife would not be interested in even hearing about my breaking a contract for something “new & shiny”. I waited. I wanted out. I’d waited long enough.

By now I’d been teaching with Google Tools for years and many times I had to force my mobile to sync with Google (and sometimes paid too much for some desktop APP that would force this) but Android WAS the Google market. It was seamless. It was to be a match made in heaven.

By the time my contract was up with Sprint, the Incredible had been released and it was, well, incredible. The camera alone rivaled anything I’d ever used before getting serious about photography. I could not believe I could do all the awesome things I always needed my computer for on my phone. I wanted it. I had to have it. It would change my life.

So I jumped ship. I told the wife I was adding a line to my parent’s account which would cut my personal bill down (she stubbornly stayed on Sprint and is still there). The week before I bought the new Incredible, Verizon announced their Droid-X. It was as cool as the Incredible but even more incredible! My brother-in-law works in AV so I ordered through him and in a few days I was an Android user. People always asked me why I went to Verizon and I told them honestly that in part it was because I wanted the Ultimate Phone Of All Time: an iPhone, and I had faith that Verizon would get it sooner or later. There was no way I was going to AT&T for it after they pissed me off about the second line for $99 for a flip phone (and yes, I made sure I was very clear it was not a second iPhone).

So the Droid-X was to be my intermediary phone, my transition into the world of the V the Z and the W! I was ready. I got the Droid-X as soon as it came out. Everyone was enamored by it. It was larger but I forgot about the size in a nanosecond. I could read books on it! (I’d been carrying my old phone AND iTouch for books only). Now I could carry just one device and it did everything. The Android Market was my Oyster and it was awesome. My phone was fast, it was cool. The 8mp camera rocked, and I could even shoot HD! I knew others who also bought Droid-X phones and loved ’em.

We loved Android’s Swype input system. Now I could “type” faster than ever, and, sure, it takes getting use to but everything does. When I went back to my iTouch for something I automatically tried to Swype and couldn’t. It didn’t make sense. When we write, we don’t lift our hands so why when we type. I am barely lifting my fingers as I type this out on my MacBook Pro (see, I am invested in Apple!) But the iTouch keyboard was now archaic and annoying! When the Droid2 was released at Christmastime, many people were excited about the upgrade to the flagship Android phone. A good friend of mine bought it, and I was surprised that it had a keyboard. Why bother? It’s like adding a cassette deck to a 21st century stereo. It doesn’t make sense anymore. Well, some people like that. I suppose.

So now it’s been a few years since the iPhone speculation on another carrier was whispered across the nets. And then came the announcement, Verizon! iPhone! Ahhh…. awesomesauce! But was it? Was it too little too late? Sure, it would be exciting! A 4G LTE iPhone 4 on Verizon! Awesome, but NO. This was/is a 3G CDMA ho-hum iPhone. With the iPhone 5 headed to market in summer and 4G Android devices beginning to saturate the market, who cares that much? Well, Verizon did break every pre-sale record in two hours. Yes, two. Did I mention it was 3am-5am. Who gets up that early? I guess all of those people who have been waiting like me for YEARS!

But I didn’t wake up.

I didn’t even roll over in my sleep at 3am. Guess what I have? I have an Android phone. I have this cool OS that has a ton of features, is super fast, and syncs up seamlessly to all of my Google tools. The Market has almost everything I ever need (the only thing I can think of as a I write this that I don’t have is Instagram but PicPlz is gathering speed on Android to replace Instagram’s hype). I have a wildly strong camera, video built in, and speed. I have a phone with removable memory (it doesn’t take a dummy to know a 32G micro SD card is way cheaper than the add-on price for any iPhone storage upgrade, and, of course, I have Swype. And iPhone doesn’t.

When the numbers rolled in from local Apple retails, corporation, and early sales (after the pre-sale hype) from Verizon, guess what? The new Verizon iPhone wasn’t such a big deal. Who cared? According to other releases and records (here, here and here, not a helluva lot of people. Too little too late.

A year ago. Six months ago, I would not write this: I don’t want an iPhone. I love my Android. Dear Apple, you waited too long.

Ordered an iPhone 4...
CC image posted by Chris Pirillo on Flickr