The rumor mills are at it yet again. A new report from Bloomberg claims that Verizon Wireless will start selling Apple's iPhone from early next year.
According to Bloomberg's sources, Apple's exclusive partnership with AT&T will end with the launch of iPhones on Verizon in January 2011.
Speculations over AT&T losing its exclusive carrier status to Verizon have been doing the rounds for a long time. Earlier this year, there were speculations that a CDMA iPhone could be launching on Verizon in June this year. Also, more recently, DigiTimes senior analyst, Ming Chi Kuo noted from his sources that the Verizon iPhone was likely to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2010. The spate of speculations in the past has made us skeptical about the latest rumor to an extent.
However, there are a few reasons why the rumor may turn out to be true this time around
AT&T iPhone Upgrade Eligibility Status: AT&T surprised its subscribers ahead of the iPhone 4 launch by advancing the upgrade eligibility status for several users by six months. This, along with the recently revised early termination fee, could be an indication that Ma Bell is bracing itself up for competition from Verizon. By advancing the upgrade eligibility of its subscribers, AT&T may have ensured that these customers do not migrate to Verizon when the carrier launches an iPhone six months from now.
Scope For Offering Upgrades: Verizon's LTE network is expected to be launched in select markets by the end of this year. However, this next-generation service is likely to roll-out nationwide only by the end of 2011. As Kevin Tofel from GigaOm writes, a January launch of a CDMA iPhone will give Apple an opportunity to offer an upgraded iPhone with LTE capability in the latter part of 2011. He points out that Apple has successfully followed this upgrade strategy in the past well.
Competition from Android: It has often been argued that CDMA is a dying technology and that Apple may not partner with Verizon until LTE is rolled out. However, this decision may prove costly in the light of the growth of the Android platform, especially since AT&T is considered as a major weakness of the iPhone. So Apple needs to partner with Verizon to counter the threat from Android. While this argument may not support the latest speculation over the January 2011 launch, it is apparent that Apple should launch a Verizon iPhone sooner rather than later. Apple announced that it sold over 1.7 million iPhone 4s within just three days after it was launched. We can't even imagine what the numbers would have been if iPhone 4 was available on Verizon.
What do you think? Will you be jumping ship when Verizon starts selling iPhones?