DigiTimes had reported earlier this week that Pegatron Technology, the manufacturing arm of Asustek has bagged the contract for the manufacture of CDMA iPhones. Pegatron is reported to commence production of the new handset from September of this year.
According to their sources, the annual shipment of CDMA iPhones is likely to be close to 10 million units. It is not clear if this is merely a ballpark estimate for future shipments or if Pegatron has been contracted to supply 10 million CDMA iPhones to Apple.
With close to 45% of the market share among American carriers being held between CDMA networks like Verizon and Sprint, Apple can expect to reach a significant number of new customers by launching a CDMA version of their popular smartphone.
Also, Apple is presently in an exclusive partnership with AT&T in USA. The popularity of the iPhone has resulted in a 5000% increase in AT&T's bandwidth consumption in the past three years resulting in a less reliable network. Many iPhone users are likely to move to Verizon if Apple eventually decides to end their exclusive partnership, which is rumored to last until 2012.
A CDMA iPhone is also likely to help Apple in consolidating its position in several foreign markets where CDMA is the dominant cellular technology.
Having said that, we do want to emphasize on the fact that this is still an unconfirmed rumor. As Fortune points out, the track record of DigiTimes with respect to unraveling rumors has not been too good in the past so needs to be taken with skepticism at this point.
We would also be surprised if Apple ends up releasing a CDMA based iPhone, which it had labeled as a "dead" technology. We expect Apple to launch a Verizon iPhone but only when Verizon has completed deploying its 4G LTE network later this year.