Verizon said to be pursuing Apple's iPhone (again)

USA Today's post today is the latest in a series of reports that Verizon is clamoring for the iPhone.  According to "people familiar with the situation", Verizon and Apple have been having high level talks throughout the year and even into last year.

The New York-based telecom entered into "high-level" discussions with Apple management a few months ago, when CEO Steve Jobs was overseeing day-to-day business, these sources say.

Steve Jobs was effectively off the job by the holidays of last year, which means the Verizon discussions were going on since 2008, if not earlier.


What is interesting is that the USA Today has reported two different timeframes for the AT&T-Apple exclusivity deals up until this point, neither of which would allow Verizon on the iPhone until 2011.  More recent reports have speculated that the iPhone contract with AT&T ends next year.

If the iPhone is introduced to Verizon next year, it won't be on the next generation LTE 4G wireless protocol - that isn't due until the following year.  It will use the same CDMA technology that current Verizon customers enjoy.

It would mark the first time Apple has produced a version of the iPhone for a CDMA wireless network, which is different from AT&T's GSM technology. Vodafone, co-owner of Verizon Wireless, already sells the iPhone in Europe.

Another thing going against Verizon is that CDMA phones don't work outside of the US and Canada.  Apple had been rumored to be working on a different, incompatible band of CDMA for Mainland Chinese markets.  Verizon iPhones would have to have hybrid wireless cards to travel internationally or they just won't work overseas.  Apple will have to develop a totally new iPhone for Verizon's market.

However, with 80 Million subscribers, the biggest customer base in the US, even grabbing a few percentage points of Verizon's market would yield a couple million iPhones. 

Last week, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg said that it was unlikely that the iPhone would reach Verizon's network until 2011 and the LTE rollout.  If the USA Today is to be believed, something monumental would have had to have changed.  

This isn't the first report of Verizon joining the iPhone bandwagon.  Many have speculated that Verizon was the first wireless company that Apple had approached when shopping the iPhone around.  The story goes that Verizon wanted too much control over the device, so Apple went to Cingular, which bought AT&T shortly thereafter.  

Along the way, there have been reports of chats between Verizon and Apple and other clues that they indeed may be working on a combined solution.

As an iPhone fan and AT&T customer until my contract runs out in a few months, this news really gives me pause.  I don't want to renew with AT&T, which in my geographic location (I live in a rural outpost called New York City) and customer support experience has been the worst for any wireless carrier I've ever used.  This may give me, and people in my situation, hope.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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