AT&T could lose 40% of its iPhone customers to Verizon

It's been long rumored that Verizon will, in fact, be getting the iPhone. However, the question of when, still remains. According to most analysts, its safe to say that AT&T's exclusivity deal is bound to expire sometime soon--if it hasn't already. As it currently stands, Apple is expected to partner with Verizon for its next generation smartphone either late this year, or in early 2011. Assuming this to be true, AT&T could be in for a roller coaster ride.

PocketNow has pointed to an interesting post over at All Things Digital. According to them, analyst at Davenport & Company, Drake Johnstone, believes that if Verizon begins carrying the Apple's iPhone, AT&T will see a mass exodus from its subscriber base. In his estimations, roughly 40% of AT&T's iPhone users (about 6 million people) could leave for the more reliable service of Verizon wireless. 

"Over the past several years, AT&T indicated that 40 percent of its new iPhone customers came from other carriers,” Johnstone theorized in a note to clients this week. “We estimate that AT&T has 15 million iPhone customers (as of Q-1 10) and believe that AT&T could lose as many as 6 million, or 40 percent, of its iPhone customers when Verizon begins selling the iPhone in 2011."

The analyst does note reasons as to why customers may be hesitant to drop AT&T (early termination fee increase, and family-talk, or business-discount plans). However, if people aren't happy with their service, it's unlikely that they've renewed their contract since the ETF was increased. In addition, family-talk and business-discount plans can be had on Verizon as well, in some form or another. While valid, these things don't seem like clear cut lock-ins for AT&T.

The reasons for such a mass exodus are clear. AT&T has failed in bringing its wireless network up to acceptable standards. It has consistently failed to handle the increased traffic caused by the iPhone and has been known for dropping calls in heavily saturated markets. Were it not for their exclusivity deal, its safe to assume that Apple would already have pushed the phone onto other carriers at some point during the past few years. Although nothing has been confirmed, we may hear news of a Verizon iPhone at Apple's WWDC event on June 7th.

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