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IPhone-Verizon Deal Confirms "Droid Does"

SCOTT SIMON, Host:

So now that Verizon's Droid did Droid Does, will the iPhone become the Apple of its eye? Do you think we're doing this story just to feed you a lot of clever wordplay? Our friend from the world of business, Joe Nocera, is in our New York bureau. Joe, thanks very much for being with us.

JOE NOCERA: Thanks for having me, Scott, but I hope the questions are a little...

SIMON: A little more clear than that. Yeah, I know. Oh, I'm exhausted. So, how and why did the Droid surpass the iPhone so quickly?

NOCERA: So the Google operating system, which is Android, has allowed Samsung and Motorola and a lot of other cell phone companies to create iPhone-like devices. They're not quite the iPhone but they're close enough. And that is what Verizon Wireless has really promoted and marketed and its customers have really gone for in a big way, and that has scared Apple, frankly.

SIMON: And that's what made Apple decide that it had to end its exclusive relationship with AT&T?

NOCERA: Now, one of the interesting things about it is that the AT&T contract with Apple is really quite onerous and completely in favor of iPhone and to the detriment to AT&T. The Verizon Wireless contract, from the little we know about it, seems to be much more even-handed. And that kind of shows that Verizon Wireless really was in the driver's seat here.

SIMON: But does the Droid, as a piece of technology, go the way of the 8-track?

NOCERA: Oh, I don't think that will happen at all. First of all, a lot of people are locked into contracts. Second of all, the Android's a pretty good phone. And it does certain things that the iPhone doesn't do. For instance, the phone call doesn't drop. And...

SIMON: Which is considered to be kind of fundamental with a, you know, telephone device.

NOCERA: And I might add, if the battery wears down, you can replace it, which you can't do with an iPhone. There will be tons of people who get the iPhone, but I think the Android has the potential to go toe-to-toe with it for quite a while.

SIMON: But with, we assume, more customers over the horizon for Verizon, if I might put it that way.

NOCERA: You just won't stop, will you?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SIMON: I'm on a tear now. Can the Verizon network handle the increased volume?

NOCERA: So, first of all, that will be tested. Second of all, what happens in the tech world is they keep coming up with more and more apps, more and more complicated apps, more and more apps that use more data. So Verizon is going to have to, you know, keep expanding the network, it's going to have to keep getting better to keep things from breaking down.

AT: AT&T always gets blamed for everything bad that happens to the iPhone. It's all AT&T's fault. But the truth is, if you actually look into it a little bit, some of the problems have been created by iPhone flaws as well. And so one of the things that's going to happen here is that if there are phone problems, it's going to be a lot harder for Apple to blame it all on Verizon the way they have always been able to blame it all on AT&T.

SIMON: Joe Nocera writes the Talking Business column for the New York Times. Joe, thanks for being with us, whatever technology.

NOCERA: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.