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Apple’s feeling threatened by Android, as they should be. So they’re systematically targeting and eliminating major reasons why someone would choose Android over iPhone.

But they haven’t yet hit the biggest one: availability on different U.S. carriers, specifically a CDMA edition for Verizon1.

Of all of today’s Verizon Android buyers, how many of them made that choice for the network first and the device second? And, by extension, for how many of them was Android a compromise rather than a choice? What will they do if there’s a Verizon iPhone in the future?

This is why I think part2 of Android’s popularity in the U.S. is only a temporary bubble that Apple can choose to burst whenever they’re willing and able to launch a Verizon iPhone.

But if they don’t do it soon — preferably, within the next 6-12 months — all of the app lock-in and software availability and and interface familiarity that helps keep people on iPhones today is going to start working against them, entrenching the Android fans too deeply to be easily swayed to the iPhone.

There’s no question that Apple knows this and has planned for it. The only question is when we’ll start seeing the results of that plan.3

The most interesting part of the stolen N90 iPhone wasn’t revealed: whether it contained a chip from Qualcomm, micro-SIM notwithstanding.

AT&T recently started rolling out Android phones (the Motorola Backflip now, then the Dell Something Plastic Probably With Blue LEDs later). Assuming any of them are worth buying, this will be the first time we can witness true competition between Android and iPhone without a carrier bias. How well will they sell?

The popularity of AT&T Android phones relative to AT&T iPhones is probably an indicator, good or bad, of where Android’s popularity will be if a Verizon iPhone happens soon.

Google has to know that, too. And I’m sure they realize that the odds don’t look great for them in that scenario today. I’m especially interested in seeing what they do.

  1. And hopefully Sprint as well. I bet Sprint would do a lot to be the exclusive U.S. CDMA iPhone carrier, but it wouldn’t be enough to make it worthwhile to Apple if there was any hope at all of working out a deal with Verizon. ↩︎

  2. Android is pretty decent, so it’s earning a lot of true fans as well. And the true fans are probably there to stay. But there’s no denying that many of its users are voting against AT&T, not for Android, the same way many of John Kerry’s supporters were supportive because of who he wasn’t. ↩︎

  3. If ever. Verizon, like Apple, is very bullheaded and inflexible about enough aspects of their devices that it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if they never came to an agreement. ↩︎