Battle of the Wireless Titans.

Verizon-iPhoneVerizon’s long awaited announcement that it will begin to sell iPhones in February puts the two mega wireless carriers head to head, as if they weren’t already rivals. Let the wireless trash talking between the two industry behemoths begin. The winners are consumers.

For those who missed the announcement, Verizon announced on Tuesday that it would begin selling the iPhone 4 in February, available for preorder for Verizon customers on February 3. Verizon will offer two phones—a 16-gigabyte version for $199 and a 32-gigabyte version for $299, pricing is with 2-year service plans. This effectively ended the exclusive partnership between AT&T and Apple since its 2007 debut.

This move, along with the growing popularity of Google/Android phones, further propels the smartphone market and the most recent Nielsen predictions are that smartphones will overtake traditional “feature” phones later this year.

AT&T, which for years had protected its wireless market share with its exclusive Apple relationship, now faces possible share erosion. However it is believed that the vast majority of Verizon iPhone sales will come from current Verizon customer upgrades rather than AT&T. In reality the growth of Android phones in 2010 has also taken many customers out of the short-term market and accelerated the smartphone segment.

The news for consumers is that smartphones and the concurrent explosion of tablet devices (there are a plethora of non-Apple tablets just over the horizon as showcased at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show) has more than ever put the power of information in the palm of your hand. One could say “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hand (held)”.

The real headline is that the American public is moving from laptops and stationary PCs to more convenient mobile devices able to deliver information, coupons, values and promotions directly at the point of sale (see earlier Struming: Big Brother is Watching and He Wants You to Save Money).

To paraprhase the late Sy Syms:

An eduated consumer with the latest held device is our best customer. 

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