iPhone on Verizon LTE unlikely, analysts say

Timing, and massive re-engineering needed, cast doubt on report

Analysts flatly dismissed the possibility that Verizon Wireless will begin selling an LTE-capable iPhone after Christmas, as reported by MacDaily News on Monday.

They said that Apple would need to heavily re-engineer its iPhone for the new LTE network, putting a separate LTE chip and antenna inside the device in addition to a chip and antenna for the 3G CDMA/EV-DO network that Verizon currently supports.

Also, they said the timing isn't right, given Apple's propensity to launch new iPhones in June.

"I don't believe it," said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates about the report. "LTE is hard to do because the chipsets aren't available in bulk and the cost is quite high. I would be shocked if it's true."

Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group, added, "I have my doubts it's true" partly because of the reports of differences that have surfaced between Apple and Verizon Wireless. "I say it's unlikely because of the massive re-engineering needed and because the two parties are very polarized and would need to come together."

Enderle noted that Apple and AT&T, the exclusive U.S. carrier for the iPhone, have had a love-hate relationship since AT&T started selling the iPhone more than three years ago. Like AT&T, Verizon is concerned about whether the carrier or the phone maker deserves to have the biggest influence over the customer.

Enderle said a post-Christmas launch for any Verizon LTE iPhone raises doubts, too, even though Verizon officials have promised an LTE smartphone by February with an announcement in the first week of January at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Apple typically announces iPhones in June, so having an iPhone on Verizon's LTE in January "would be like an iPhone 4.5 release," Enderle said. Apple CEO Steve Jobs is "more elegant" than that and "likes to control the overall customer experience."

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon