The custom of providing early upgrades ahead of big new phone releases has become fairly common for mobile carriers. Electronista is now reporting that Verizon is allowing early upgrades for many of their customers ahead of Apple’s release of the iPhone 5, including some customers who otherwise wouldn’t be eligible until May 2012.
Large mobile carriers often engage in these practices to encourage greater sales of new phones. The early upgrade essentially cuts a portion of time off of a customers’ usual two year contract, allowing them to purchase a new device at a discount long before they’d normally be able to.
The iPhone has become Verizon’s biggest selling and most important iPhone, dwarfing the typical Android handset release. Verizon activated 2.3 million iPhones in the spring, almost twice the 1.2 million primarily Android-based devices that were activated in that same period of time.