Press speculation is turning to tech reality. Yes, the Apple iPhone is coming to Verizon. The announcement is expected Tuesday, with a CDMA version of the iPhone 4 shipping later this month. Yes, I’ll take one. White would be nice.
(Sorry, RIM, I will miss my Pearl 8130. Some call it a chick phone; but I call it great.)
This worst-kept-secret in mobile tech was a catalyst for bonus prediction #11 in my 10 Legal Trends for 2011. To save you from clicking or scrolling, here it is:
11. Mobile Legal is On the Go. Itâ€™s coming to the corporate market and even faster to the consumer legal market. While many lawyers are still tied to a desk, many clients get outside in the fresh air and will increasingly have a smartphone in a purse or on the hip. Without totally geeking out, if the Apple iPhone comes to Verizon in 2011, the smartphone trend will really accelerate. If you are still using a BlackBerry, you likely havenâ€™t seen what mobile search is like or what a newer Android phone linked to a 4G network will mean. Law firms will quickly see that their websites are totally inadequate for these computers on-the-go. Entrepreneurs will develop apps that strive to make legal practice more location-independent and cost-effective. Good if we get away from the office; bad if we have to work everywhere. Just a lawyerâ€™s luck to be able to work all the time for clients who want to pay for results, not hours.
I think this is still largely on the mark. Actually, in the few weeks that have passed, I feel that the Verizon iPhone will be part of changes to the legal industry that will be bigger than one mobile phone on a single wireless network. While there has been some uptake of smartphones (iPhone on AT&T and Android on Verizon and others), BlackBerry handsets rule the legal enterprise market for most law firms and corporations. And you can bet that Verizon is the preferred carrier for many of these entities.
So Tuesday let’s say Steve Jobs saunters onto the stage in New York City to join Verizon in making the announcement. I think it will take all of about 90 minutes for outside and inside counsel to start calling their IT groups and ask them when (not if) they can get the iPhone.
Some will be greeted with a stony silence. Talk of security and existing investment in BlackBerry Enterprise Servers will likely follow. Integration with Outlook then possibly thrown in for good measure. Lastly, someone will remark that lawyers work with words so they need a BlackBerry with its compact but full keyboard.
It’s all true and things will not change overnight. But when you add the iPhone on Verizon to the mobile mix, I think there is no going back.
Starting Wednesday I will explain how I see the legal industry reacting to some of these smartphone developments over the coming months. It will change how some corporate lawyers and their outside counsel practice law and separate from the competition.
(I have to hedge my bets just a bit in case Tuesday’s announcement is about the iPad 2).