The telecom giant, feeling the pinch of Apple’s expensive iPhone, said yesterday it wants to help Microsoft succeed in creating an alternative mobile platform.
“It is important that there is a third ecosystem that is brought into the mix here, and we are fully supportive of that with Microsoft,” said Verizon Wireless CFO Fran Shammo.
Microsoft and its hardware partner, Nokia, are trying to make a dent in Apple and Google’s dominance in smartphone software. Earlier this month, the Nokia Lumia 900, running Windows Phone software, started selling in the US.
While the Microsoft ecosystem is just barely out of the gate and not now a threat to Google’s Android or Apple’s platforms, with fewer high-profile app developers on board, Windows is still seen as a future rival to the twosome especially as RIM’s BlackBerry continues to fall off, industry analysts said.
A third competitor in the space would lessen carriers’ dependence on Apple and its iPhone, which is popular but costs carriers $600 apiece and is sold at a loss.
Verizon and rivals, like AT&T, offset some of the margin squeeze through costly data plans.
Ironically, news that Verizon was actively looking to lessen its reliance on the iPhone came as the carrier reported sales of Apple’s most profitable device fell to 3.2 million units in the first quarter from 4.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.
That helped send Apple shares tumbling. They closed down 3.4 percent to $587.44.
Meanwhile, Verizon shares rose 1.3 percent after it reported its wireless unit gained 501,000 new customers in a quarter that featured no blockbuster phones.
Smartphone users are turning on the data spigot and paid Verizon 16 percent more last quarter, $23.80 a month, to surf the Web, watch videos and stream music.
The data revenue helped boost the monthly average revenue per user by 3.6 percent to $55.43. Overall, Verizon’s $1.69 billion in earnings on $28.24 billion in revenue beat Wall Street’s expectations.
While Verizon’s iPhone activations were down 25 percent quarter over quarter, analysts expect strong numbers when Apple reports next week.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimates that Apple sold 33 million iPhones. Still, the iPhone outsold Google Android phones.
Verizon made it clear that it would like to lessen its dependence on the double-edged iPhone. It recently started charging customers $30 if they upgrade phones in the middle of their contracts.
Munster told clients that he expects the iPhone 5 to launch in October, keeping it on the schedule Apple set with the iPhone 4S last fall.
Verizon, Verizon Wireless, Microsoft, Apple, Google, iPhone, Nokia Lumia 900, smartphone software