Dan Lyons thinks the Verizon iPhone is arriving too late:

So who cares that now Apple will sell its phone on Verizon? For me, it’s too late. Other converts to Team Android tell me they’re feeling the same way. “I’m not going back either,” says Fred Wilson, who runs Union Square Ventures, a venture-capital firm in New York.

Dan cites diversity as the main reason why the new iPhone will have less impact than a lot of people say. He also dislikes the scarcity of choices available in the iPhone world:

The iPhone, in contrast, is a bit like the situation people once had with Henry Ford’s Model T, where you could have any color you wanted, as long as it was black. With the iPhone you can have whatever Steve Jobs says you can have.

Predictably, John Gruber disagrees:

The Model T was a massive hit, dominating the market for over a decade: Wikipedia says:

“By 1918, half of all the cars in the US were Model T’s.”

He also contends that the extreme control that Apple is exerting on the iPhone is the main reason for its success:

I’ll just point out that he posits as fact that “Apple’s control-freak nature” is a weakness. Control-freak does carry a negative connotation in our culture. Swap in the word perfectionist and it changes the connotation.

I agree with John on this point, nobody can dispute that the extreme control that Steve Jobs has on the design of the iPhone is the main reason for its success. Calling this “control freak nature” is a red herring: who cares how the process works as long as it delivers. And Apple has delivered brilliantly, no questions about it.

However, I think John’s point about the Ford Model T is flawed. Yes, the Model T had only one model available, and yes, it was a resounding success, but the correlation here is indirect. People were not buying the Model T because it had a great user experience but because it was the cheapest car available. The low price was indeed a direct consequence of the absence of choice (and of other factors, such as the early use of assembly lines) but the fact is that at the time, there were very few cars to choose from.

The situation is very different today in the phone market.

Price is of no consequence. Subsidized iPhones and Android phones are about the same price and the plans are comparable. Price is not the driving factor in the choice of smart phones these days. A few years ago, when the iPhone was reigning supreme, the deciding factor was that there was no phone that was even remotely as good as the iPhone, so the choice was easy.

However, in 2010, something radical happened. Something that immediately threatened the iPhone supremacy but that hardly nobody noticed.

Android became “good enough”.

By “good enough”, I mean that suddenly, you were always finding the iPhone and Android side by side in articles, TV shows, customer reports, blogs, newspapers. Android had managed to crawl its way up, to make itself credible, to catch up with the iPhone, something that most experts would agree was deemed impossible just two years ago.

And with this newly acquired status for Android, the debate suddenly shifted. The decision to buy a smartphone started relying on other factors. People started looking more closely at carriers, extra features (such as MMS, tethering). And the iPhone stopped being the shoo-in. Suddenly, it had to justify itself.

Going back to Verizon, I agree with John that Dan is probably extrapolating his personal situation a bit too far: just because he won’t switch doesn’t mean nobody will. But I disagree with most pundits who predict that the new Verizon iPhone is going to turn the tide and give the #1 spot back to the iPhone. That train has left the station. Just a few months ago, Android was already outpacing the iPhone in phone activations by more than 100,000 a day. No doubt that this number has increased today.

The Verizon iPhone will certainly create a spike in sales and activations in the next few months, but in the grand scheme of things, it will be just a blip on the graphs and it will have done very little to stop what looks like Android’s unstoppable rise to the #1 spot in market share, first in the US, then in the world.

You can file this down as “claim chowder”.