Verizon passed on the iPhone

Word has leaked out that Verizon passed on an opportunity to be the exclusive provider of cellular service for the iPhone. Apple's choice of Cingular puzzled some because Cingular is not known for great customer service (note that "customer service" in the cellphone industry is a relative term, but generally Verizon has a better reputation than Cingular). If the story is true, it suggests that Verizon execs are still trying to make their old Manufacturing Economy business model work--that is, trying to remain a monopoly provider end to end. These days, that is a dead end. The future is in networks that support multiple service providers offering a rich variety of services, some of them narrowly targeted to niche markets. And there is plenty of money for everyone in the supply chain if it is done right.

Verizon apparently passed on Apple's offer because Apple wanted to provide customer service and support. For any network business, customer support is a very big expense. So Verizon had an offer to tap an entirely new customer base of people that would be committed over a period of years to a single cellular provider (subscriber churn is a huge problem in the cellular industry); not only that, Verizon's partner, Apple, was willing to handle customer service. Sounds like a good deal to me. But Verizon passed, because like their landline business, they are still focused on the past, rather than the future. Good for Cingular, and not so good for Verizon. And provides some useful information about Verizon's long term viability as a business.