The great iPhone 'exodus'

Half of all iPhone users say they might switch carriers if given the chance — and they may soon be. Should AT&T be nervous?

iPhone users may hold onto their AT&T contracts, some say.
(Image credit: CC BY: William Hook)

With fresh rumors flying that Apple is building millions of iPhones to sell through Verizon, a survey suggests that as many as 50 percent of iPhone users might switch carriers once Apple's exclusive deal with AT&T expires. But AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson says there won't be an exodus, because 80 percent of iPhone users are committed to long-term contracts, or linked to other AT&T customers through a work or family plan they can't, or won't, abandon. Will there be a "mass exodus" of iPhone users next year?

iPhone users aren't going anywhere: People may be frustrated AT&T's dropped calls, but not many will "jump ship," says Joshua Schnell at Macgasm. It's a "giant pain" to switch cellphone carriers. Besides, two-thirds of iPhone users were already AT&T customers when Apple introduced its smartphone. The real change will come when Verizon customers start dumping their old phones for iPhones — so it's Android that ought to be concerned

"Pft, why would AT&T be worried about losing iPhone exclusivity?"

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AT&T is going to lose a lot of iPhoners — but not half: The Verizon iPhone is being treated like a "foregone conclusion," says Ed Hansberry at InformationWeek. And a Credit Suisse analyst has put a number on the defections AT&T can expect: 1.4 million users — or 23 percent of the carrier's iPhone base. And only three percent said they were eager enough to switch to break their contracts — meaning most won't ditch AT&T until 2012 or later.

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Apple missed its shot at many Verizon fans: When iPhone first came out, Verizon customers were desperate for it, says Brandon Hill at Daily Tech, because their carrier didn't have a "competent, touchscreen-based smartphone." Now it has several — including the Droid 2, Droid X, Droid Incredible, and Fascinate. When, or if, the Verizon iPhone finally appears, many people "may have already given up and made the switch to Android."

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