Does Verizon’s ‘WikiLeaks’ Show How Badly Carrier Needs the iPhone?



Did Verizon suffer a Wikileaks-like unauthorized release of sales data? That’s the conclusion of one analyst, who wrote Monday that the carrier was practically forced to agree to an iPhone contract that was beneficial to Apple.

After a Friday report included monthly Verizon smartphone sales numbers precise to 1,000 units per month, Asymco’s Horace Dediu said the leak was “as big as a Wikileaks release of diplomatic chitchat is to…diplomats. Bigger, actually.”

The Verizon sales numbers were published by All Thing’s Digital from ITG Investment Research. The numbers showed Research in Motion’s BlackBerry being swamped by a flood of Android handsets, Google’s mobile software comprising 80 percent of Verizon sales.

Update: a spokesman for ITG later contacted Cult of Mac, denying any leak of information happened. “ITG Investment Research did not and does not receive any material nonpublic information from Verizon or any other company we cover,” the spokesperson wrote in an e-mail.

“The information you were referring to comes from point-of-sale data at independent wireless retailers across the United States. To be clear, we do not misappropriate or improperly obtain nonpublic information,” he concluded.

For Apple, there was another graph, perhaps most interesting and providing a clue to why Verizon agreed to a pact the carrier had resisted for three years. Although 2009 was seen as the year of Android and a way for Verizon to hold off defections to the iPhone, that optimism changed around August 2010, when the iPhone 4 was released.

“It is perhaps coincidental that the rumors of a Verizon deal with Apple seem to have started in earnest right after August. It’s thin, circumstantial evidence, but the only evidence we have to corroborate the data above is that Verizon has been signaling more desperation,” writes the analyst.

Verizon was forced to “throw in the towel,” deciding it was best to go with Apple.

“Apple may be the devil, but so could be Google. Apple was predictably evil. But Google? The devil you know is perhaps better than the one you can’t predict,” writes Dediu.

[Fortune, All Things Digital, Asymco]