iPhone coming to Verizon in 2010? We've heard this one before

The iPhone has been extremely profitable for AT&T, but according to a report in the USA Today, AT&T's exclusive rights to sell the iPhone may end in 2010 when Apple releases a CDMA capable iPhone for Verizon. Rumors of Apple working on an CDMA capable iPhone have been swirling around for over 2 years, so its especially easy to be skeptical of this latest rumor. USA Today doesn't cite any specific source in its report, and instead relies on the tried and true "sources familiar with the situation" to bolster its claim. The report goes on to say that high-level negotiations between Apple and Verizon began before Steve Jobs decided to take a 6 month medical leave of absence, but that conversations between the two companies have continued in his absence. This is definitely intriguing, but given the number of other iPhone/Verizon rumors that never came to fruition, I'm having a hard time believing this without a more substantial source. Adding fuel to my skepticism is the fact that Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg recently stated that Apple never really intended to produce a CDMA capable iPhone because they were focused on worldwide distribution, which meant that AT&T and its GSM technology made more sense. This, of course, contradicts long held reports that Verizon actually turned down Apple's initial offer to distribute the iPhone in 2007. The story goes that Verizon wasn't comfortable in ceding to Apple the amount of control it wanted, and so Apple then went to its second choice, AT&T. In any event, Seidenberg recently said that the iPhone could very well come to Verizon once it rolls out its 4G network in 2011, but not anytime sooner. So either the USA Today's report is way off base, or Verizon's CEO is being purposefully misleading. Verizon, and its 80 million subscriber base, is undoubtedly a tempting play for Apple, but this rumor has sadly become the equivalent of "The boy who cried wolf." Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see the iPhone hit Verizon in 2010, but until a more substantial source emerges, it's hard to take this most recent rumor seriously.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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