Verizon COO: iWhatever

In a company-wide memo entitled “iWhatever”, Verizon COO Jack Plating ranted about the iPhone and AT&T, asserting Verizon’s dominance:

While a device is only as good as the network it’s on, I expect AT&T to ignore the network service completely and focus squarely on the device. We have an advantage - choice. We currently offer customers a choice of 18 multimedia devices - at various price points - that download music and surf the Web, wirelessly, at broadband speeds.

Full text at Valleywag

There’s no choice in Verizon’s phone lineup. They’re all the same crappy phones running the same handful of buggy, limited OSes with the same awful red Verizon Flash interface on top.

Verizon’s phone lineup hasn’t advanced since the introduction of EVDO in 2005. And even that was an incremental improvement that benefitted almost nobody except laptop-tethering users. Even the newest, trendiest phone in Verizon’s lineup, the LG VX8700, is functionally equivalent to my 2-year-old Motorola E815, which was only a minor update from the relatively ancient V710 that preceded it. The phones still can’t browse the internet or play music suitably enough for anyone to actually use these features. Most customers can barely figure out how to use the speakerphone or call-waiting.

The smartphone selection is worse: Windows Mobile is awful while Palm OS and the Blackberry OS are mediocre. Nobody thinks that their Treos or Blackberries are good phones. That’s why the demand for the iPhone is so strong: people’s frustrations with smartphones have been stewing for years.

Verizon’s correct that they have the best network. But they should be worried that their phones are so bad that many people are happily going to an inferior network for a single, first-version, very expensive phone from what’s going to be a very popular product line that Verizon can’t sell for at least 5 years.

I’m not too concerned about this happening, but what if AT&T’s network is great in 5 years?

And what would happen if the iPhone went to Sprint next?