∞ Hindsight shows Apple's wisdom to make a GSM iPhone first

Verizon’s relationship with Apple was the subject of an interview with Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg on Businessweek.com. Seidenberg’s comments give pause to the claims that Verizon spurned Apple, but in retrospect, it’s really not that important.

[ad#Google Adsense 300×250 in story]Seidenberg claims the decision to work initially with AT&T was Apple’s idea.

“We had good discussions with them, but it was clear to us that they weren’t looking to make a device for both sets of technologies,” said Seidenberg, who claimed that Apple’s negotiation with Verizon weren’t serious “because we were never in the running.”

Seidenberg’s comments would seem to temper rumors that have long persisted that Verizon was the one who turned away Apple.

The question of who spurned whom is largely irrelevant in the greater picture, however. Looking at it in hindsight, Apple’s strategy was sound. Verizon’s 3G network utilizes CDMA technology. EDGE and GSM technology used by AT&T was compatible with the cellular networks that operate throughout Europe and elsewhere.

At the time the iPhone was unveiled, Steve Jobs called it a “world phone” and said that it would operate in “80 percent of the world.” Apple was motivated to create a product that would work for as many potential customers as it could.

During the Verizon press conference in New York this past Tuesday, Tim Cook mentioned that Apple’s arrangement with Verizon is “non-exclusive,” which suggests that other CDMA carriers will soon be able to sell the iPhone to their customers.

Verizon remains AT&T’s biggest rival in the United States and has more than 90 million subscribers that Apple will soon be able to cater to. But outside of the United States, the CDMA market is smaller than GSM.

That’s not to discount CDMA out of hand, however. There are several hundred million CDMA handset users around the world. Apple’s ability to sell a CDMA iPhone 4 will certainly add to their bottom line in a significant way, both in the United States and abroad.

But there’s also little doubt in the end that Apple absolutely did the right thing by focusing their efforts on GSM technology first.