04 Apr 2011

Is lightning striking at Verizon?

Mobile, News No Comments

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone right now. Yes, Android has a larger market share but there is no single Android phone that is more popular than the iPhone. IPhones are like storm troopers; every one the same, dutifully marching towards domination of the industry.

The Verizon iPhone (which I’ll call the vPhone) has been out about two months.  I wrote a blog post about how the vPhone was experiencing the same death grip issues as the iPhone 4 over at Techmento.com.

imageNow, there’s a new Android based phone at Verizon, the HTC ThunderboltHTC is a company based in Taiwan. They are a smartphone manufacturer who makes above average phones with way above average user experiences. For years, HTC made Windows CE based phones that looked pretty, which is no small feat. Considering this, it’s a safe bet that they can make an Android phone have an extremely compelling user interface as well.

The HTC usage profile is one of animated widgets that glimmer and shimmer from the glow of an off screen light.  The clock flips with a smooth precision and weather data can cause a wiper to clear virtual raindrops from the inside of your screen.  The HTC’s interfaces are sexy and sport tremendous attention to detail.

HTC has been very consistent in their user experience, causing their phones to be in reasonably high demand.  In a worst case scenario, their compelling user interface can give them an advantage over phones with less enjoyable interfaces.

Combine this nice UI with the sheer violence of the Thunderbolt’s technical specs, and you have an extremely interesting phone worth upgrading to.  It’s a smartphone that supports LTE (one of the first phones to do so, by the way) and has a 4.3 inch touchscreen. Did I mention is also has a 8 megapixel camera and 8GB of flash memory?  Many people speculate the iPhone 5 will have an 8 megapixel camera after a recent slip by the Sony CEO Howard Stringer.

imageWhich brings up an interesting scenario.  Analysts at BTIG Research (registration required) polled 150 Verizon Wireless stores and asked the sales people which phone they sold more of the previous weekend; the vPhone or the Thunderbolt?  According to their research, the ThunderBolt is outselling the vPhone in 28% of their stores.  The sales in 61% of the stores were nearly identical, and the vPhone was outselling the Thunderbolt in 11% of the stores.

The report stresses that sales of the vPhone are strong, but sales of the Thunderbolt are strong or stronger.

So the combination of sexy UI and superior technical specs, it seems, is a recipe for competing with Apple.

This is extremely interesting to me and causes me to consider several possibilities.  There are so many blogs dedicated to the iPhone and I’m starting to wonder if they’re not all just posting to outdo the other?  Many of these blogs dutifully fail to mention many if not all the “killer features” coming to the next iPhone are already available on other phones.  Usually an Android phone.

I also wonder if it’s still “hip” to be obsessed with Apple products?  I’m wondering if the general public is starting to look around and realize that there is something else out there.  I wonder if being Apple centric is starting to become passé. 

According to the Verizon Wireless salespeople, customers are interested in the fast 4G capabilities of the Thunderbolt. They also mentioned some people have returned their Thunderbolt phone because of poor battery life.  A real multitasking phone can really drain a battery.

Just how fast is the Thunderbolt when it comes to 4G?  Phone arena has some nice info on their blog post. However, here are two graphics from that post that should tell you everything you need to know.



As someone who played online games over dialup, these are awesome numbers.  It’s almost twice as fast as the best numbers I’ve ever gotten on the Sprint 4G (WiMax) network.

In a flash, the HTC Thunderbolt has rolled into the market; and as of right now it seems to be stealing some of the vPhone’s thunder.  I wonder if this is just because the Thunderbolt is new, or if it indicates stormy times ahead for the iPhone’s dominance in the marketplace?

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