The implications of findings about Verizon data usage

So, Gizmodo had an interesting post a few days ago that discussed how Verizon smartphone users use more data than AT&T’s smartphone users. At the time I saw this, I was buried in studying for a final exam that I took yesterday, and I’ve been spending a significant portion of my time that would otherwise be dedicated to this blog since then trying to figure out why ProFTPd has stopped allowing me to log in to my own server. (Ah the joys of being your own administrator.)

Anyway, I’m taking a break from yelling obscenities at the creators of nondescript error messages to over-analyze something that may in fact be nothing. Want to join? You know you want to. More after the jump.

So, as you’ve probably extracted from the headline, this post is concerned largely with data usage between Verizon’s customers and AT&T’s customers. The Gizmodo article highlighted the fact that Verizon’s customers tend to pull down more data than their AT&T counterparts. In fact, Verizon customers are averaging almost 100MB more data per month. Now, truly, there will be people who fall all over the spectrum on both networks, but a difference of 100MB is pretty significant when AT&T’s Data Plans start at $15/250MB/month.

Commentor “Yahweh_Took_My_Prepuce” on Gizmodo made a very interesting point that I’d like to highlight below:

I see iPhones as being as much status symbols/ fashion accessories/ emblems of conspicuous consumption as they are highly-able smartphones. Droid and Blackberries are less so (though the latter used to be, right?).

So I imagine folk buying the Verizon Droid and Blackberry phones actually have a need for smartphone data (let’s call them: Nerdy Users), since they’re not just interested in having a flashy smartphone for the sake of having it.

Now, I imagine that there are plenty of you out there that read that and went “Well, duh,” and that was my first reaction. However, the reason I’ve decided to come back and write a full blog post on this topic after marinating on it for a few days is that I think there are some important points that are implicit in this idea, if it is actually true.

The first of these is that people who use data, choose Verizon. That’s bad, bad news for AT&T who is about to use a lot of users when their exclusivity deal ends with Apple. One could even go so far to say that AT&T’s success will be entirely dependent on Apple. What’s interesting to note is that while AT&T is completely dependent on Apple in this symbiotic relationship, Apple is not completely dependent on AT&T.

The second point that I extract from this statement, if we assume it is a true observation, is that Verizon’s customers are with them because of a need whereas AT&T’s customers are with them because of a trend. You may argue that Verizon is marketing more toward the business sector and AT&T seems more cool, but let’s keep in mind that “what’s cool” changes. It seems to me that if we accept Yahweh_Took_My_Prepuce’s comment as true, then these numbers are evidence of a better run company, correct? Or at least a better advertised company. Of course, the underlying theory being that those who have a need to use data are going to choose the network they have the most faith in.

Needless to say, both of these points tell us something we already know: there are problems on the horizon for AT&T, and it’s not going to be pretty for them when the iPhone users have the opportunity to pack up and work on a different network.