What makes him powerful: Under Lowell McAdam's guidance, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has become a very savvy player in the extremely competitive wireless marketplace. Although it has never confirmed reports that it will begin selling a CDMA-based Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone in early 2011, Verizon has made the most of the rumor mill by keeping its subscribers guessing (and not churning) on the likelihood that a Verizon iPhone will soon be available.
Overall, it was a good year for McAdam as he steered the company's LTE deployment. Verizon initially promised to launch LTE in 25-30 markets by year-end 2010 but in September at the CTIA Wireless Apps & Enterprise conference in San Francisco, McAdam confidently increased that estimate to 38 major markets and 60 airports covering 110 million POPs by year-end.
In addition, Verizon emerged as one of the biggest carrier supporters of Google's Android smartphone platform. By early November the company had launched eight devices running Google's Android operating system with more to come. Thanks to its commitment to Android, Verizon steadily increased its smartphone market share. At the end of third quarter, 23 percent of Verizon's postpaid retail base owned smartphones, 43 percent of device sales from the direct sales channel were smartphones, and 60 percent of existing postpaid customers buying smartphones were new to the category.
But Verizon's relationship with Google doesn't stop with Android. The two firms issued a joint public policy statement on net neutrality in August that they hoped other carriers and public interest groups would examine and endorse. Although net neutrality remains stalled at the FCC, the action was notable considering the two companies have often clashed over policy-related issues.
Finally, McAdam's success leading Verizon Wireless caught the attention of Verizon's board of directors and CEO Ivan Seidenberg. In October, he was promoted to president and COO of Verizon, highlighting the importance of wireless to the company's overall business. --Sue