As we count down to Apple possibly announcing Verizon as a U.S. iPhone carrier and debate what such a move might mean to the current exclusive iPhone carrier AT&T, the head of that carrier weighed in on why a Verizon iPhone deal isn’t keeping him awake at night. CEO Ralph de la Vega told analysts at Wednesday’s JP Morgan tech conference that many iPhone owners likely will find it too difficult to switch to Verizon.
According to de la Vega, 70 percent of AT&T customers are tied to a family plan, which could make it exceedingly difficult to jump ship. Another segment of customers — those on corporate discount plans — account for 40 percent of AT&T subscribers.
Independent analyst Turley Muller claimed earlier this month that the iPhone 3G even helped lower AT&T’s churn rate. The number of AT&T postpaid accounts leaving the carrier fell from 1.3 percent in the first quarter of 2007 to under 1.1 percent in the first quarter of 2010, according to the analyst. By comparison, Verizon’s churn rate rose during that same period from 0.9 percent to around 1.1 percent.
In related news, de la Vega told analysts this morning he can’t get enough of the iPad: “I’m addicted,” he told the JPMorgan audience, describing how he used the Apple tablet to pare down his waiting email while on a flight.