It would be easy to jump on a conspiratorial bandwagon regarding this latest news report, and you might actually be right to do so (although it is probably only a minor and unsurprising one). Apparently, according to a new investigative report from CNN, Verizon Wireless is heavily pushing their Google Android phones instead of the iPhone from Apple. In fact, not only do new customers receive the "hard sell" on Android smartphones over the iPhone, they are being discouraged from getting the iPhone and are also being pointed squarely at 4G Android phones. Furthermore, it is very possible that their sales reps are trained to do exactly this.
What inspired this report was a slurry of anecdotal evidence that this was happening at Verizon Wireless stores across the country. On chat forums, twitter, and various other information sharing outlets, regular people were sharing that they went into a Verizon store intending to buy an iPhone but were discouraged from doing so and were actively pointed in the direction of Android phones, (more specifically 4G Android phones.)
Because of this, a reporter at CNN, David Goldman, decided to test things out for himself by having 10 different conversations with Verizon sales reps at 10 different locations (either on the phone, in person, or in online chat sessions). At five of them he simply indicated that he was looking for a smartphone. At the other five, he expressed interest in the iPhone and asked the sales rep if it would be right for him. In every instance, each of the sales reps steered him to buy the Droid Razr Maxx, the Droid Razr or the LG Lucid (which are all 4G phones). Here is a direct quote from him with some of his conversations:
Interestingly, when the CNN reporter spoke to a Verizon rep about this and asked him directly, he received a not so direct answer, "Our sales force's mission is to ensure customers are familiar with our product line and to match the customer with the right device to best meet their needs," Verizon Wireless spokesman Tom Pica said in a written statement. "At the end of the day, our goal is that every customer is delighted with the device that they have chosen.""The iPhone is a great phone, but it's on 3G," said one representative at a Verizon Wireless store in midtown Manhattan. "I'm not going to recommend a phone that's outdated."
"The only drawback to the iPhone is it doesn't have 4G, and Verizon is really pushing 4G," another rep said on the phone. "Don't get me wrong, the iPhone is a great phone. It just costs the company a lot of money for returns when customers find out that a faster 4G network is available and the iPhone's only on 3G."
I initially told half the representatives that I wanted "a new smartphone," and half that I was interested in an iPhone.
When I said up front that I wanted an iPhone, none tried to talk me out of it. But when I followed up by asking if it was the best smartphone, they all said no.
"If that's what you want, absolutely we'll order it," one rep said over the phone. "But my recommendation is 4G. I'd want the fastest, best technology that's not going to be outdated when I buy it."
"The Droid Razr Maxx is the faster of the two," another rep said in an online chat after I asked whether he thought the iPhone was my best bet.
When you stop to think deeply about this, it makes perfect sense. By pushing customers toward 4G Android phones, VZW does three smart things for itself. One, it signs folks up for a more expensive data plan, which equals more profit. Two, it is more expensive to subsidize the Apple iPhone than an Android phone. This saves Bid Red in overhead costs, thus also indirectly generating more profit. Three, it helps reduce bandwidth drain on their older and more saturated 3G network. Overall, there is no real downside to this plan. The popularity of the iPhone draws customers in, then their sales reps are trained to redirect folks to the "better" (and more profitable) technology.
Ultimately, it probably isn't too surprising that Verizon may intentionally be doing this. After-all, they need to do what affects their bottom line the most, (as long as they aren't hurting their customers while doing so). In fact, one can argue that they are doing their customers a favor, because (relatively speaking) the RAZR or RAZR MAXX are potentially a better value than the iPhone, especially if the customer actually wants to use a lot of data, and either of those phones has several other features and functions that the iPhone simply doesn't have.
Still, some folks might be irritated by this behavior from Verizon. Share your perspective!