∞ About this Verizon compatible iPhone

It seems that a new Verizon compatible iPhone rumor surfaces every couple of weeks, so I thought I’d chime in and give my thoughts on it. The latest rumor comes from Bloomberg and says that Verizon will begin selling an iPhone in 2011, ending AT&T’s exclusivity of the device in the U.S. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard news like this — in fact, it comes up every time Apple has an event.

However, this is the closest report to what I’ve been hearing too. I’ve previously said that a Verizon iPhone wouldn’t hit the market until at least early 2011, and that’s if everything goes as planned. Typically it doesn’t.

Responding to a MobileCrunch article claiming that any speculation on a Verizon deal is false until we see hardware, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber hit the nail on the head — hardware is not a hold up in this situation.

Apple already has a Verizon compatible iPhone. It’s not that they have to rush around Apple HQ and start building the thing for a January launch with Verizon — it’s already there and being perfected all the time.

As Gruber pointed out, think of this like the Mac OS X Intel version. People were shocked when they learned that Apple had parallel builds of OS X for Intel and IBM, but they had them for years.

Here’s where my thoughts differ a little bit from Bloomberg. I don’t believe a deal has been finalized with Verizon. It’s reasonable to assume that the two companies are in negotiations and the Bloomberg article is just another negotiating tactic, but I don’t think a deal has been signed.

Apple is in a good position right now. If they sign a deal with Verizon, they are ready to go with a phone. They can also show strong sales over the last few years, which any wireless company would want a piece of.

Verizon can also help Apple get iPhones to people that won’t or can’t get service with AT&T. It’s a win/win, but I’m sure the negotiations are very tense, and I believe, ongoing.



  • ericdano

    Take a step back from this rumor and think. All this talk is NOT about the iPhone, but the next version of the iPod Touch. I think Apple will be including a radio in the iPod touch that will allow it to have a data plan on AT&T or Verizon or whatever. This is what all the chatter is about.

    • Darwin

      Thats a dumb ass comment. You take a step back and think. idiot.

      • Michael

        Actually, given the 3G capabilities of the iPad, it’s not a dumb ass comment at all. The one thing all my friends with Touches complain about is the fact that they have a great browser that only works when they’re near wifi. Giving the Touch 3G capabilities would be a really smart move.

        I suspect the reason why you didn’t explain why his comment was “dumb ass” is because you didn’t think for more than a split second about what he said. Try again, troll.

  • http://crankygeek.com Jack Brewster

    Personally, I wouldn’t switch providers, but I would like to see Verizon get it eventually, if for no reason than to make the “it-will-be-better-with-verizon” people shut up. (And competition, yada yada yada.)

    I just hope that if it happens, Apple stands firm on not making Verizon-specific customizations to iOS, as Verizon seems to normally require from their hardware providers. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a sticking point in current negotiations.

  • tonyk

    Verizon iPhone is not a win-win. The competing carriers (and we’ll use the term “competing” loosely) have a vested interest in keeping iPhone platform dominance in check. Apple and Google both ultimately want to force the carriers into the business of competing for the lowest price and best service – in other words, Apple wants to commodify mobile data access pricing. The carriers will not let this happen.

    The status quo of AT&T iPhone exclusivity benefits all the carriers equally by slowing down Apple and giving competing platforms (Android) a chance to become established. For the carriers collusion is much more the name of the game in mobile than competition, a legacy of the 80s breakup of AT&T into baby bells. Exclusive handsets bolster the illusion that the carriers are selling different products rather than merely acting as tollkeepers of last-mile access to a public utility.

    Google was playing the same game until Eric Schmidt and Andy Rubin decided that iOS platform dominance was a bigger threat (or at least a more addressable threat) to the mobile ecosystem than the carrier’s poor deployment and rapacious pricing.

    • RidleyGriff

      Stellar, stellar comment. I believe you are 100% correct here.

      The iPhone gave Apple enormous leverage with carriers in pushing them for certain things — Visual Voicemail, Apple’s controlling the maintenance schedule for their devices, no carrier branding or bloatware. Carrying the iPhone was important enough for the given carriers to play ball, even though it was against their business practices of the last 10 years.

      The ubiquity of Android has tipped the balance of power back to the carriers, however, and consumers are already paying the price — vague and/or non-existent update schedules, carrier lockdown of features, etc.

      In a sense, Google has screwed the individual because they have been more concerned with beating Apple than providing the best experience for consumers. The carriers should be dumb pipes. Eventually, I’m sure they will be. But carriers are pushing that reality further out every day, and their tool of choice is Android.

  • Sam Penrose

    There’s at least one shallow reason why time is on Verizon’s side: the longer Apple waits, the larger the fraction of the market left for it to grow into is Verizon-only. Back of the envelope: the US supports 300m cell connections, divided evenly between Verizon, ATT, and everyone else. At least half, probably more, are not going to pay for a premium phone. Say Verizon and ATT have a potential market of 100m, which is really 50m/year on the standard 2-year plan. Apple won’t sell 25m phones in the US this year, but it’s getting pretty close. If you look at the remaining 20-30m potential customers now on Verizon, the resistance to ATT is clearly high for some millions of them (I don’t know how many, but it includes myself and many acquaintances). And for each convert Apple makes, the average value of “ATT hate” in the remaining pool gets a little higher, making the next conversion that much harder.

    Potential counter-arguments: (1) Apple may have done research to establish that it can cause Verizon significant losses despite ATT-hate into 2012. (2) Apple is playing a longer game, and looking past carrier control of the market. I am certain (2) is the case in some sense, but I don’t think it’s the relevant one. Gut feeling on (1) is that the value to Apple of steady growth through 2013 or so is higher than whatever Verizon will demand, but I may be underestimating their obnoxiousness. We’ll see.

  • dw

    This is FUD from Verizon. They dont want to lose more customers to ATT so they are actively doing all they can to detract the iPhone. Not that it is sinister, just smart. If you can assuage your iphone-lusting customers that an Apple product will be forthcoming, then you can stall. Stalling is money.

    It makes no sense for Apple to introduce a CDMA verizon phone when LTE is coming late 2011. It’s only one year(some change). Apple is already working on the Iphone 5, a cdma fork would just unfocus them. Besides, Verizon needs to be reminded of their foolish refusal of the iPHone(it is a billion dollar mistake, no two ways about it.)

    Let Verizon Sweat. In fact, Apple may never give an iPhone to Verizon because of the attack ads. ATT won’t mind if they share the iPHone with maybe Sprint or T-mobile (when LTE comes) but they might if they give it to Verizon, one of their biggest rivals.

    Food For thought.

    • Matthew Maurice

      I’m not sure that a “cdma fork would just unfocus them.” I agree with Jim, and by extension Gruber, that Apple engineers have had working CDMA iPhone prototypes since the early days (remember: Apple went to Verizon first, so the original iPhone plan had to have CDMA support in there somewhere). However, I do agree that it would be smarter for Apple to wait until Verizon LTE is rolled out to a demographically significant number of subscribers. Finally, let’s not forget, Apple dissed EVDO’s single communications channel, going to Verizon too soon would me them a little silly (we won’t even start on the implication of the “Droid does” campaign).

      • abu

        Yep, I mean, come on, it’s not rocket science, it’s just a different radio – some chips to source, some firmware to write, and some testing to do.

        Other manufacturers with smaller resources than Apple have no problem in supporting actual product lines that span multiple standards.

        It’s a no brainer that they ought to have a CDMA phone ready to go into production if and when it makes business sense.

  • giromide

    Assuming iPhone comes to Verizon, Android will continue to saturate. Android is Apple insurance for the telcos — a way to sell the “iPhone experience” without co-selling devices the telcos can’t control. Telcos are doing the best they can with adjusting to consumer expectations that have changed thanks to Apple — make devices that are “good enough.”

    What tickles me about all this is that not weeks ago the big wigs of Motorola, Verizon Wireless, Adobe, and Google were hanging out and loudly proclaiming the Droid X, the assumed crown jewel of Android’s and Verizon’s device families. This iPhone deal could completely tear that apart.

  • Peter Wehr

    Although I suspect that Apple has a CDMA version of the iPhone in parallel development, I think the OSX/Intel scenario had one important difference. OSX sprung from NextStep which ran on Intel. Developing the parallel Intel version was in some ways a natural byproduct of creating the PowerPC version. That being said, I’d be suprised if Apple didn’t see the benifits of their own earlier strategy. Just being able to dangle a working prototype in front of the Verizon negotiating team would be worth the extra development cost.

  • Warren

    Which network it is running on has little to do with iOS or anything above the lowest level communications layer. The APIs talk to either a radio or a network interface. So all that needs to happen, and perhaps already has, is for the device drivers to be written to the iOS spec and some changes made on the motherboard for the different radios.

    Also, do not forget that China is primarily CDMA, making for a huge potential market.

    Lastly… the difference between CDMA2000 (Verizon’s 3G) and W-CDMA (the other name for AT&T’s 3G) is minimal, so this is not a huge refactoring for the engineering teams.

  • http://www.phonejunkie.net tim lanfair

    my opinion:

    take it for what its worth, its just my opinion, but why would verizon wireless carry and iphone in january, February, or even march? The big selling push is christmas, or even black friday. If verizon were to put out an iphone wouldn’t you think they would wanna maximize fourth quarter sales? Verizon and Apple? If it happens it will be December… if it doesn’t happen expect it to come second quarter next year. Thats just my opinion.

  • Joe

    The att network is so unreliable… verizon would have a field day with iphone switchers… why is there no class action lawsuit again att – % of dropped and repeat calls is easily obtainable — where are the attorney generals on this? Only att can make claims of raesonable service when iphone users know otherwise… I only hope the iphone on verizon rumor is true

  • Chris

    They won’t make two phones. Apple would want it all in one. Marketing wise, if there are two iPhones, one has a problem. People will say my iPhone sucks not my blank iPhone. Meaning whatever carrier has it. To put a CDMA chip plus gsm is not worth it. Also verizons 3G is still CDMA so even with lte they have to have that second radio still. LTE is not fully there yet as a technology so I doubt apple is going to rush it in there with out tons and tons of testing.

    I agree with whoever said it but verizon probably released the recent comments because they want to hurt iPhone sales. They want people to stay with verizon.

  • Nick

    Apple knows they are losing sales being stuck on one carrier, and that carrier is struggling to keep up with bandwidth demands from its towers. They are rushing to install more back lines from the towers due to the iPhone. Apple told me 20% dropped calls are now acceptable. ATT will not be rolling out 4G LTE anytime soon considering they can barely keep up with current demand o the 3G. Verizon has LTE sites in testing up and plans to roll out the 4G in 2011 nationally. Apple needs this for the video phoning to work and be successful across more than on carrier. Verizon needs it since they see a slowdown in phone sales and want more of the smartphone market. Verizon also already proved to Google and the Android platform that no longer restrict developers. They knew they had to change or lose the smartphone market.

  • http://twitter.com/BeratEryilmaz Berat Eryılmaz

     Also verizons 3G is still CDMA so even with lte they have to have that second radio still. LTE is not fully there yet as a technology so I doubt apple is going to rush it in there with out tons and tons of testing.www.forumtrend.com

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