New confirmation has reportedly come that Apple will release an iPhone on the Verizon Wireless network in early 2011. The New York Times reported Oct. 8 that Apple CEO Steve Jobs is planning to make an iPhone available from Verizon “early next year.” The person spoke on condition of anonymity, saying the plans were confidential and he didn’t want to alienate contacts at Apple.
The iPhone is now available only through AT&T Inc. Adding Verizon Wireless, the nation’s largest mobile phone operator, could significantly boost sales of Apple’s phones, which face rising competition from smartphones that use Google Inc.’s Android operating system. Now the WSJ may have its top secret sources somewhere in Cupertino, and we wouldn’t be surprised to hear this was a well orchestrated leak, but it looks like they aren’t the only paper in town that’s ready to confirm the CDMA iPhone for Verizon.
The iPhone’s expansion to the Verizon network would make it available to tens of millions of potential new customers at a time when Apple, like Microsoft, faces new competition from Android-running smartphones. The Google-created OS is now the fastest-growing operating system in the country and, The Neilsen Company reported last week, its smartphones have been the best-selling in 2010, accounting for 32 percent of all smartphones sold in the last six months.
A Verizon iPhone in early 2011 would additionally align with the carrier’s plans to begin rolling out its 4G network, which will be based on LTE (long-term evolution) technology. At the recent CTIA Wireless event in San Francisco, Verizon President Lowell McAdam shared that Verizon’s initial LTE deployment will take place in 38 cities — up from the initially cited 30 cities — as well as 60 airports, including those in cities not named in the initial rollout.
It’s long been rumored that a version of the iPhone would soon be made for Verizon Wireless. A Verizon Wireless executive earlier this week downplayed the possibility of an iPhone using the company’s current network. The executive suggested that an iPhone could be made available later for a faster Verizon Wireless network.
But in an interview this week, Tony Melone, the chief technology officer of Verizon Wireless, suggested that those doubters could be wrong. Mr. Melone did not comment on the iPhone, but he said that while Verizon would begin introducing its new network in 38 American cities by the end of the year, the company’s older 3G network would continue to grow for several years. He also said that Verizon would continue “selling 3G devices well into the decade, possibly through the end of the decade.”
However, while L.T.E. phones will be backward-compatible so they can run on Verizon’s older 3G network, those 3G phones won’t run on the new, faster L.T.E. network. The arrival of the iPhone to Verizon could further increase Apple’s bottom line, with some analysts predicting the company could sell an additional 10 million devices per year. But analysts say that investors have long expected Apple and Verizon to come to terms eventually, and Apple’s stock price already reflects that.