While I was participating in a AT&T Video Share demo, here at NXTcomm, my colleague Marguerite Reardon from the News.com side of our shop was at a press conference featuring Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg.
So happens that Seidenberg runs the wireless services company that is the number one competitor of AT&T Wireless- whose five-year U.S. exclusivity window on the Apple iPhone starts a week from this Friday.
This is not a time to be jealous. CEOs should never admit to jealousy. Not only would that be so not cool, but it would reflect weakness.
Marguerite notes that Seidenberg said Verizon plans to compete against AT&T, which is the exclusive carrier for the iPhone, by emphasizing the company's services.
So here's what Marguerite notes that Ivan said:
"We just added four new devices in the past month," he said. "The new BlackBerry is flying off shelves. The way we see it, our customers have price points and service packaging that is different."
Specifically, he pointed to Verizon's V Cast music service that allows consumers to download songs over the air, and mobile video services including the new V Cast TV that uses the MediaFlo network built by Qualcomm to broadcast live TV.
When asked if he thinks the company will take a hit from subscribers ditching Verizon Wireless' service for AT&T's, he said he believes Verizon is in a very good position. Verizon Wireless has long enjoyed strong customer loyalty with one of the lowest churn rates of any major wireless operator in the country.
"The way we come at this is to let the iPhone hit the market," he said. "I don't think it changes the game plan for how we approach the market. But we need to see the impact. The burden is on (AT&T and Apple) to prove the market will change."
Seidenberg also added that he thinks the iPhone will actually help drive business for Verizon's high-end smart phones and advanced data services.
"The iPhone will add excitement and stimulation to the market," he said. "If we have done our job, then we will be a beneficiary. I hope it does reasonably well."
You know, I can't disagree with anything Ivan Seidenberg said. Yes, there's plenty of room for everyone; yes, Verizon has a compelling enough services suite to weather the iPhone storm, and yes, the upscale features of iPhone will encourage those iPhone cusomers who are looking for only some of iPhone's features @ a quite lower price point to look for alternatives.