Sunday the Wall Street Journal claimed that Verizon Wireless will begin selling the Apple iPhone by the end of the month. The report was followed by rumors that the nation's largest wireless carrier will actually make the announcement in New York City tomorrow, January 11. We're not buying into either one of the reports.
The Wall Street Journal’s report is based on an unnamed "person familiar with the matter" who claims that Verizon will not only start selling the Apple iPhone by the end of the month, but that they will come with 2-year plans featuring unlimited data use. This may not be a permanent feature, but rather a marketing gimmick offering the all-you-can-eat data for three or six months.
Then again, despite executives whining that the industry needs to move to a tiered pricing mechanic, Verizon hasn't set forth any type of data usage cap on its customers despite previous rumors, and based on the insider "scoop," there may not be any plans to do so, putting Verizon in a better position to steal customers away from the data-restrictive AT&T.
But will they defect? According to AT&T PR boss Larry Solomon, Verizon's CDMA technology isn't as fast as AT&T's GSM. "The iPhone is built for speed, but that's not what you get with a CDMA phone," he said, seemingly acknowledging that the iPhone is indeed heading to the Big Red. "I'm not sure iPhone users are ready for life in the slow lane."
Verizon seems confident that it can handle the new iPhone traffic, pointing to the current amount of Android-based data guzzlers eating bandwidth on its main 3G network. "Whether they are iPhones or Droids, they are smartphones," Verizon Chief Executive Ivan G. Seidenberg said in November. "Regardless of the mix, we are prepared to carry more data."
It's quite possible that the supposed Verizon iPhone will be compatible with the company's new 4G LTE network. Verizon's chief technology officer Anthony Melone told the paper that the new network will help handle new data traffic and offload some of the demand on the 3G network as existing customers upgrade to 4G LTE devices. But even still, the 3G network is capable of handling a huge surge of traffic which took on nine million new Android subscribers alone in just one year.
"All of this planning can support any successful device," he said, ignoring a question about how the network could handle the iPhone.
In a separate report, the Wall Street Journal said that Verizon Wireless could generate millions of sales for Apple this year alone by offering the CDMA-clad iPhone 4, possibly 9 million to 12 million units sold by the end of the year. But despite all the "insider" information and rumors, will Verizon in fact release a CDMA iPhone soon? What's the status of the shady exclusivity deal between Apple and AT&T? Is it possible that a CDMA version doesn't count, and that the deal specifically focused on the GMA model?
But let's look at the big picture: we have never seen a new Apple product revealed by anyone else other than Steve Jobs here in the States. While it's possible Jobs could be on-stage with Verizon to announce the new iPhone, it just seems unlikely. It also seems unlikely that a CDMA iPhone will go on sale in the United States until Steve Jobs himself makes it known.
So what will Verizon reveal tomorrow at its New York City press event? Probably Windows Phone 7 devices. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer hinted to this possibility in his CES 2011 keynote presentation last Wednesday. "Additionally, we'll finish the release that will make the Windows Phone available on the Sprint and Verizon networks in the first half of 2011," he said.