Motorola's (NYSE: MOT ) Droid X hits the market today, giving Verizon Wireless one more snazzy soldier in the leading wireless carrier's battle against AT&T (NYSE: T ) with its iPhone exclusivity.
It won't matter -- but don't tell that to The New York Times.
"Verizon could decide that it does not actually need the iPhone, thanks to its deepening ties with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) ," wrote Brad Stone and Jenna Wortham yesterday.
I'm sorry, New York Times. Verizon does need the iPhone.
There's nothing wrong with Google's Android platform. It's slick. It's open. It's also wildly popular. Market watcher NPD Research reported that Android smartphones outsold iPhones in this country during the first three months of the year.
However, the problem with Android also rests with its open-source appeal. Droid X may prove to be the hot smartphone, but surely there will be an even cooler Android-peppered handset hitting the market in a few weeks.
Android plays the field. Just as Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S ) generated all of the buzz during last month's debut of the HTC Evo -- the first 4G smartphone -- the parade simply moves on to the next shiny Android device, regardless of the carrier. This is great for Google's mobile operating system, but not a game-changer for the carrier.
Verizon Wireless -- a joint venture between Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) and Vodafone (NYSE: VOD ) -- needs the iPhone. It may be the top dog in wireless, but AT&T is the top dog in smartphones. Despite AT&T's lousy rep for spotty reception, dropped calls, and incomplete coverage, the carrier remains relevant because of its exclusivity with Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) .
Don't be surprised if the day that AT&T's deal with Apple ends, AT&T begins a sharp descent in subscribers as customers bolt. Assuming Verizon Wireless carries the iPhone at that time, it will be the primary beneficiary.
The audacity to claim that Verizon Wireless will be OK with Droid X and whatever other Android phones may come is just not realistic. Pssst. AT&T has Android phones, too, you know.
Carriers need differentiators. Sprint has that, for now, in some markets with its 4G coverage. AT&T has it with the iPhone. Verizon Wireless has the network coverage map, but it could do so much more if it eliminated the iPhone from AT&T's one-trick army.
Can Verizon Wireless or Sprint compete without iPhone? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.