Verizon CEO Seidenberg on iPhone, cord cutting, tiered pricing

Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg on Thursday held court on multiple topics. In a nutshell, Seidenberg isn't in a rush to get Apple's iPhone, says cable companies are delusional on cord cutting and hinted that tiered pricing is around the corner.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg on Thursday held court on multiple topics. In a nutshell, Seidenberg isn't in a rush to get Apple's iPhone, says cable companies are delusional on cord cutting and hinted that tiered pricing is around the corner.

The comments from this morning from a Goldman Sachs investment conference were notable on many fronts and raised a bit of a ruckus. Let's roll the transcript.

Also: Apple's iPhone going to Sprint?

On his desire to land the iPhone for Verizon:

This is like the Knicks getting Carmelo Anthony, you know. Like it would be really good if the Knicks got Carmelo Anthony but they have to play the game to get him. Right? So here is kind of like the way I would look at that. We have worked hard to make our network a destination for all the suppliers to develop devices and equipment. Because we think we have the best value proposition to attract customers. So that is our view.

So the iPhone, AT&T has done a wonderful job with it, Apple obviously has done a wonderful job with it. We were not in the game because it was GSM-based, it was global standard, really not there. We have worked hard at building a franchise out of Droid which proves that if there is an alternative, an acceptable alternative to the iPhone, and a great network and a great distribution channel, the market will go that direction.

I'm hoping that the success we have had with the Droid will lead us to the place where Apple, Samsung, Motorola, Huawei even, will want to build 4G devices and accelerate the ecosystem development so that the number of devices that will be available on 4G will be extraordinary. And our view would be we would want to carry them all.

I can't speak for Apple but my view is there is a lot of momentum in the industry for people to move on the 4G issues quicker. Now there was a fear that we build a network and that the devices wouldn't be there. Well, we are going to have a tablet. We have already announced one. There will be other tablets coming out. We have got a device lineup that would include some 4G capability starting in the first quarter.

We don't feel like we have an iPhone deficit. We would love to carry it when we get there but we have to earn it. And I think what we need to do is show all the suppliers that we have equal treatment and we have the best network for people to put all their equipment on. So the answer to your question is I am believing that 4G will accelerate the process and any other decisions that Apple makes would be fine with us and I think we are running our business to make ourselves the destination for all of the key tablets and devices and hopefully at some point, Apple will get with the program.

On cable cord cutting, something Comcast pooh poohed on Wednesday, Seidenberg said:

Listen, they (cable companies) are doing well and they have to play their cards. My only comment is they don't know what they don't know. And I think I have all of the bruises of sort of playing out the same strength. We never thought anybody would cut the cord on telco, right? We have got 30% of our customers cutting the cord. Young people are pretty smart. They're not going to pay for something they don't have to pay for. So you've got to watch the market, over the top there is going to be a pretty big issue for cable.

And on tiered pricing and 4G, Seidenberg said:

When we layer in 4G, the experience is going to be very good. When you think about 4G, if I may make a comment about it, we think about it this way. So we have actually had the 4G network in the 30 markets or so we are going to introduce. It has been up and running since around the middle of June. So some of you may be running around on your devices actually have been experiencing the 4G speed and you will probably say what happened? But it is probably not that noticeable because you don't think about it.

So we have been tweaking, tuning, trying to get everything all lined up. So when we cut over on our network, we will have cut over about 30 markets and about 50 airports and all the airports are in the same market as the 30. So the issue is you will get a pretty good nationwide experience right from the get-go...

Getting back to your question on pricing, I think we are going to feather in our pricing over the next couple of months as we introduce new services, new products and try to get that value proposition to fit the added excitement and added capabilities that we are going to offer into the marketplace. So I don't think we want to match our pricing to what we think is going on today because we think we are not sure it is the right experience nor is it the right value proposition.

But we do agree with tier pricing and we do think we have to monetize the investments we make and you will us do that over the next four to six months.

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