Yes, I am aware that the information that is responsible for me once again putting my fingers to the keyboard is little more than anecdotal evidence. Apparently, this analyst called a whole bunch of Verizon stores and asked which phone sold best. The phrase “Why, the Thunderbolt is outselling everything we’ve got!” or some variance thereof was uttered enough times that this analyst published the information, sharing that the Thunderbolt was out-pacing the iPhone 4 in terms of day-to-day sales. Before you scuttle down to the comments to argue, call me names, or do some other form of oxygen wasting activity, understand that I am addressing the possibility that those figures might be accurate, and why.
See, the Thunderbolt is a good phone. Coupled with LTE, it’s capable of doing really amazing things. It does, as our own Anthony Domanico so graciously put it, have pretty awful battery life. There’ve been other complaints specked across the reputation of Big Red’s first LTE phone, but the general consensus is that the phone is good. So, good enough to outsell what was supposed to be such a gamechanger? Here’s why I think it happened.
Plain and simple, it’s a smartphone on a network that outpaces most DSL and cable internet providers. Verizon’s 700MHz spectrum powered LTE network is the perfect combination of blazing speed and building penetration, and the network is growing to include more and more cities all the time. Anyone who is in an LTE area and is due for a smartphone upgrade is not likely to walk out of the store without a Thunderbolt, but I wonder if that’s because of Verizon’s…
Word on the street is that Verizon doesn’t pay real well for the iPhone. Rumors of payouts as low as $5 per activation for customers trying to buy an iPhone would certainly deter any sales rep from offering it up, especially when an activation for an HTC Thunderbolt would get you $50-60 an activation. Is the low payout a result of all the rear-kissing that was necessary to get the phone on their network in the first place? No one knows for sure, but it’s pretty easy to see why a sales rep, even one whose not an Android fan, would push customers away from the iPhone.
SenseUI + Android 2.2 = obvious choice
There’s no denying that HTC’s consistent development of the SenseUI has lead to a really impressive user experience. If you disagree, that’s the great thing about Android, you can change it! For the “average consumer” however, SenseUI offers up an experience that no other manufacturer or developer has really been able to match. Walking into a store and seeing a phone that tells you the weather just by animating it across the screen has generated more “Wow!”‘s than any phone I’ve seen in recent memory. Plus, Android really has matured to allow the average user to be able to navigate and explore with ease, and the Flash browser doesn’t hurt either.
In many ways, this situation illustrates the very thing we’ve seen time after time with ComScore reports and Google Earning statements; Android is making huge advances, and drowning everyone else out in the process. It’s just nice to be able to see little victories like this one pop up for the little green guy, so savor it!