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iPhone 4 To Verizon? Really?

June 30, 2010

Two people "familiar with the plans" have told Bloomberg that the iPhone is coming to Verizon in January 2011. If true, this would end Dallas-based AT&T's hold on the iPhone market in the U.S. which it has held exclusively since 2007. Before people that dislike AT&T (and want an iPhone) rejoice, keep in mind that we've heard these rumors before.

As recently as May, CNET reported that it would happen in 2010, while others were surprised when a Verizon iPhone was not unveiled at WWDC earlier this month, as was rumored. It would make sense for Apple to partner with Verizon. The New Jersey-based carrier is the top-selling smart phone provider in the U.S. Verizon's network uses CDMA technology, and would require reengineering the iPhone to work. Going with T-Mobile, for example, would make more sense technically since both it and AT&T run on a GSM network. One analyst says that a Verizon/Apple hookup would be very good for California-based Apple, saying:
“For Apple it means a larger addressable market. It’s also good news for Apple in that it will spread the load on the wireless data networks, which will be good for their customers.”
Much depends on AT&T, and both it and Apple have been very reluctant to publicly discuss their exclusivity agreement.  In fact, we don't even know when the agreement is supposed to end, or if either side can back out early. If the agreement is about to become history, Apple might have already given AT&T quite a parting gift. Although most cell phone contracts are for two years, AT&T was quick to allow anyone that had a contract due to expire in 2010 to re-up and purchase a new iPhone 4. Now, those first 1.7 million iPhone 4 buyers (and still others signing up every day) are tied to AT&T, regardless of what Verizon does. A January iPhone rollout by Verizon would still give AT&T a six month headstart and require users that want to switch providers to pay a hefty cancelation fee. Remember too, just because the exclusivity contract between AT&T and Apple may be ending, does not mean the carrier will be out of the iPhone business altogether. They will now have to compete. AT&T may also remain the exclusive provider of 3G service on the iPad. Apple has sold more than 50 million iPhones since its introduction in 2007 and the 1.7 million units sold in the first three days of the iPhone 4's debut were Apple's best iPhone launch in history.

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