Verizon-Alltel Merger Impacts Mobile Marketing

Casey BartoIt is hard to believe it has almost been a year since the Verizon-Alltel merger first made the news. Over the last nine months mobile marketers (and customers) have seen Verizon become the largest wireless carrier in the country with 87.7 million customers, and AT&T − the nation’s second largest mobile carrier − grab an extra 1.5 million subscribers.

Despite Verizon’s status as the largest wireless carrier in the U.S, AT&T appears to be giving Verizon a run for their money. But AT&T is not just netting extra subscribers, they are increasing market share as more and more consumers flock to smart phones, like the iPhone. In fact, AT&T activated a record breaking 2.4 million iPhones during the second quarter of 2009. Not content to let AT&T dominate smart phone sales, Verizon has partnered with Google in an attempt to bring more Android devices to market. The Lunch Pail will have a post detailing Google’s growing smart phone influence soon.

Mobile marketers have been keeping a close eye on merger developments, and while no concrete date has been set for the network switch over, Verizon is continuing to assimilate Alltel customers into its network, with the Midwest scheduled to switch over on Oct. 17. Every Alltel customer is forecast to become part of the Verizon network by the end of year.

Since Verizon has absorbed the majority of Alltel’s customer base, it has not yet been determined when marketers will see an easier time getting program briefs approved with one less carrier’s requirements to satisfy.

For mobile marketers, despite the growth of apps, SMS still remains the best way to reach and engage consumers. To put that in perspective, Verizon customers have sent or received 146 billion text messages during the second quarter alone, and that number will surely grow as Verizon continues to transition Alltel customers to the Verizon network.

The new developments with Verizon and AT&T are sure to bring changes to mobile marketing, as well as mobile advertising. The possibility of partnering with Verizon and AT&T for campaigns offers marketers a substantial chunk of the wireless universe. It is possible some marketers or advertising agencies will determine those networks alone are enough to constitute an effective mobile presence, especially in light of T-Mobile’s recent struggles.

As we near the end of 2009, Alltel is slowly beginning to disappear from the mobile landscape, leaving Verizon and AT&T to battle it out over who will be the largest provider.

Be sure to check back on Friday, when I’ll dive into what customers can expect (and the fate of Chad) as the transition draws to a close.

Want more information on the Verizon-Alltel merger? Check out What the Verizon-Alltel Merger Means For Mobile and New Verizon-Alltel Merger Developments.

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