updated 11:05 am EDT, Mon April 27, 2009
Verizon iPhone deal?
A version of the iPhone for Verizon could be coming next year, claims USA Today. The newspaper cites "people familiar with the situation," who say that Apple is in negotiations with Verizon, and in fact has been talking with the carrier for several months, back to point before Apple CEO Steve Jobs took a medical leave of absence. The diminished participation of Jobs has not stopped efforts, say USA's sources.
The American iPhone has so far been an exclusive to AT&T, but the contract enforcing that arrangement is set to expire with 2010, giving Apple the option of shopping the device around to competing wireless firms. A potential obstacle to deployment with Verizon may be available wireless protocols; whereas the current iPhone uses a GSM/HSPA mix, Verizon is dependent on CDMA and EVDO, which could necessitate doubling the number of phone variants. The carrier is planning to implement LTE (4G) networks in 2010 however, which could allow Apple to build a single hybrid mixing 3G and 4G. AT&T's 4G network is scheduled to debut in 2011.
AT&T is expected to put up resistance due to the lucrative nature of the iPhone deal, which gave the company 1.6 million new subscriptions in Q1 2009, 40 percent of which were formerly with other carriers. Some analysts suggest that AT&T may want to extend its contract by a year; Nielsen analyst Roger Entner notes that while the carrier would likely continue to sell iPhones, it may be worried that factors like the perceived reliability of Verizon's network could draw people away.