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Things I know about the 'Verizon iPhone' story

Because so many of you have asked, here is the total of what I know about the odds of a Verizon iPhone. That perpetual rumor subject is once again in the news, courtesy of a Wall Street Journal story that declares upfront: "Apple Inc. is making a version of its iPhone that Verizon Wireless will sell early next year, according to people familiar with the matter."

* The WSJ's piece is more specific than others -- after an overnight revision that changed it from referring to an iPhone running on Verizon's CDMA wireless technology to naming Verizon upfront. And the WSJ's reporters are no slouches.

* I have no direct evidence proving or disproving the WSJ's story. (If you do, you know how to reach me.)

* I don't put much value in anything Verizon Wireless might say today. If the company is really getting the thing, of course it will say nothing or offer deliberately vague, possibly misleading answers. Apple, meanwhile, will maintain its customary, sphinx-like silence.

* I suspect that Apple has had test CDMA versions of the iPhone for years, just as it had test versions of Mac OS X running on Intel processors for years before it announced it would switch from PowerPC chips to Intel's.

* Strictly as a business proposition, it's unwise for Apple to keep the iPhone chained to one carrier in the U.S. market when many potential customers don't want to use that carrier's services. That's not how it offers the iPhone elsewhere, as per the long-standing business maxim that "if somebody wants to give you their money for a product, you should let them." But there could be complicating factors: Maybe somebody at AT&T has naked pictures of Steve Jobs.

* Don't forget that every single story predicting the arrival of a Verizon iPhone on a date preceding today has been wrong. That is a nearly unmatched record of forecasting futility.

* I would also find it inconceivable for Apple to let Verizon give an iPhone the usual Verizon treatment -- prominent Verizon branding, a suite of non-removable Verizon apps, maybe even a separate app store -- much less the outright disfigurement of somebody else's software I saw in its new Samsung Fascinate.

* If you want to hold on to an antique phone in the hope that Verizon will pull an iPhone out of its hat sometime early next year, you might as well go ahead now. But I reserve the right to point and laugh at you if your optimism proves unwarranted. I might not even wait to mock you: Sitting around and hoping for a Verizon iPhone to descend from the skies, year after year, starts to resemble cargo-cult behavior. Seriously, aren't you tired of carrying around your Windows Mobile 6 device or your Palm Treo already?

* I believe I speak for every tech reporter in America when I write this: Very few things would make me happier than not to have to answer "when is the iPhone coming to Verizon" questions anymore. Seriously -- I hate this story. So, please, companies involved: Make it go away, one way or another.

By Rob Pegoraro  | October 7, 2010; 11:41 AM ET
Categories:  Gripes, Mobile, The business we have chosen  
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Comments

Does anyone know if Apple sells a different Iphone in South Korea?

When I lived there - and I think it still hasn't changed - South Korea used CDMA (like Verizon + Sprint), and not GSM (like Apple).

Posted by: wp1007 | October 7, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the story. Though I ahve to disagree with a couple of things.

First, if Verizon got the iPhone, don;t you think they would be marketing the hell out of it? Maybe there's some agreement with Apple that prevents them form saying anything until a specific date, but I can't imagine that the largest wireless provider would stay quiet about it, especially when consumer interest is so high and so intense.

Speaking for my own self, as the owner of an HTC Verizon Wireless phone, I've been able to add and remove anything I want. Perhaps I am not as sophisticated a user as you or others, but it serves my purposes and I've had a minimum of trouble. On a related note, I always liked the Treo.

Posted by: njacobs | October 7, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

What about the rumor that I am just now starting that iPhones are joining forces with Tracfone prepaid wireless?

Posted by: ozpunk | October 7, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

The hurdle I keep coming back to is that there is basically one model of iPhone that works in all countries. So Apple is going to create a version that will work solely on Verizon, which means only in the US? Seems highly unlikely.

Why not get TMobile into the mix? At least they're GSM.

Posted by: ah___ | October 7, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm still carrying my Windows 6 phone (a Samsung i760). I can say one thing: this is one tough phone. It's been dropped more times than I want to count and it, like the Energizer Bunny, just keeps going and going. Why get rid of it?

AND, considering the investment I have in a desktop cradle, a **good** belt clip, extra batteries, etc., I'm just not willing to spend more $$$ to get the latest and greatest and SIGNIFICANTLY MORE EXPENSIVE PHONE AND SERVICE just to please VZN.

I'm not a "I must have an Iphone (or other phone/system, for that matter) on VZN" guy either.

I just see no reason to upgrade when the phone I have, even with it's quirks--which it definitely has, works fine for me. (I must have a phone that can talk to my Outlook file LOCALLY.

I simply don't trust "the cloud" as a place to put very important and what I'd call "company private" data. Why others do is beyond me. ;-(

Posted by: henwin | October 7, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

We should be able to use any phone on any network....someday, maybe.

Posted by: citigreg | October 7, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

It boggles my mind that anyone who knows Apple at all thinks there will ever be an iPhone 1) with any logo other than the apple 2) with any app store other than the App Store 3) with any apps preinstalled that are not personally chosen by Steve Jobs and 4) with any way to purchase content other than iTunes.

Verizon will not get a single concession from Apple. They will not even be allowed to have the Verizon logo instead of the apple on startup. What in Apple's history makes anyone think they will be allowed to change anything about the iPhone? Apple has not given in on 99 cent TV rentals or 1.99 purchases. They didn't give in on 99 cent songs or 9.99 albums until the labels agreed to go DRM-free. They have not, to my knowledge, allowed any other carrier to install anything on the iPhone prepurchase. They do not allow preinstalled crapware or even the Intel sticker on their computers - if I remember correctly, my last Macbook didn't even have a trial of iWork installed! And the only time I'm aware of any 3rd party seller being allowed to even offer Apple products at prices other than Apple's MSRP is Walmart with it's measly $2 off on the iPhone. I could have missed a minor instance of any other the above, I suppose, but I haven't seen it.

The price of doing business with Apple is a willingness to do business on Apple's terms. You may think this is a bad business practice for Apple's sake or that it makes them a bully company and you are free to choose to bring your business elsewhere. But if you don't acknowledge this, you haven't been paying attention.

Posted by: amy130 | October 7, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps I am a "cargo cultist," but I intend to keep my LG enV as long as it lasts, until Verizon offers an iPhone. Why? Because I don't use my phone for data now (I just wanted a keyboard for texting), and even buying a new enV would subject me to Verizon's new mandatory data plan charges. I'd rather wait to buy a device that I would actually use for data, as I do now with my iPod Touch.

Posted by: richmurphy | October 7, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I decided to put off getting a replacement for my Razr V3 until the LTE/4G rollout on Verizon. Once that happens (in a couple of months?) I'll get an Android phone that does LTE.

Posted by: wiredog | October 7, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

" But I reserve the right to point and laugh at you if your optimism proves unwarranted. I might not even wait to mock you: Sitting around and hoping for a Verizon iPhone to descend from the skies, year after year, starts to resemble cargo-cult behavior."


(Hmmm, and I'm waiting for a Sprint iPhone.)

Rob: Ha!

Posted by: edlharris | October 7, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Rob, you have mentioned this NUMEROUS times & I agree...
If the iPhone comes to Verizon, it won't be CDMA. Makes no sense since the 4g LTE network is coming online in a few months.
Now, what does make sense would be a iPhone running on the LTE/4G network of Verizon. And January would be a good time to announce as Verizon is implementing several cities by end of this year.
stay tuned!

Posted by: wvp123 | October 7, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

With all this hoopla about the supposed arrival of the iPhone for Verizon, there's no wondering why people call it the "Jesus Phone".

Posted by: GreenMeansGo | October 7, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I have been a VZ customer for years. I really wasn't interested in the iPhone. Just a lot of hype from the Apple-heads I figured. Then my company gave me one to use for work and wow! I could not believe the amount of truly useful things I can do with it and how nice the UI is. Way better than the touch screen phone I had with VZ. Also, I have had zero troubles with AT&T's network and I travel A LOT.

So when my family's contract expires next month, it is off to AT&T we go.

What is the point of having the best network if VZ will only allow you to use their clunky rebranded phones on it? Its like having the German autobaun and being stuck in a Ford Pinto.

Posted by: boomer5 | October 7, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

boomer5 wrote - "What is the point of having the best network if VZ will only allow you to use their clunky rebranded phones on it?"

Before you take the plunge, try one of the droid phones that have come out in recent months. a zillion aps and very fast. I will admit the user interface isn't quite as elegant as the iphone's, but on the flip side, unlike the iphone, these devices actually work. (not one dropped call for me in 6 months. not one.)
Also, some places of the dc metro area are really spotty for ATT's data network. I know folks in arlington who dumped their iphones at the first opportunity, not because they disliked the phone, but because the 3g coverage was horrific in their neighborhoods.

Posted by: danacruikshank | October 7, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

"Now, what does make sense would be a iPhone running on the LTE/4G network of Verizon. And January would be a good time to announce as Verizon is implementing several cities by end of this year."

While I agree in principle I will ROTFL when all the Vz subscribers start complaining about being able to get reception only in a few cities.

Posted by: ah___ | October 7, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't care less about anything that Verizon does or has or promises. They broke every contract I've had with them, their high speed internet is a snail, and they pull little billing tricks on their customers who may not notice bogus charges on their bills. To me they are sneaky and dishonest to customers. If people begin to sign up for services with other telecoms, those telecoms will have more power and services to compete with Verizon and lessen Vz's power and influence in government.

Posted by: clairevb | October 7, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Apple has very little incentive to go multi-carrier in the US. They can barely manufacture enough iPhones to keep up with demand on AT&T in the US and other carriers worldwide, and they make a huge profit on the phones and iTunes purchases (music, movies, TV, and apps).

It'd be nice as a consumer to have the choice, and the day will come at some point, but Apple is in no rush to make it happen.

Posted by: Duodenum | October 7, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

You can count on the Iphone on Verizon early next year. They will deny it right up until Jan 1, because admitting it would torpedo holiday sales of their existing phones. They may be a giant coporation, but not an espceially stupid or suicidal one.

Posted by: 54465446 | October 7, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Rob,

How do VZ/iPhone stories do relative to others trafficwise?

Posted by: rakeshlobster | October 7, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I opted for the Droid last November after giving up on the "Verizon IPhone" that had not materialized. After 11 months with the Droid now with Android 2.2, I see no reason to go with the IPhone. The apps meet my needs, I get great coverage, and no dropped calls.

Posted by: Enviro-man | October 7, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm in the same boat as RichMurphy - I don't use my Treo for data and its old enough that it doesn't require a data package. I don't get great reception at my desk. Its a verizon issue because a coworker with a new blackberry can't get service at my desk either.

But I stay with Verizon because the one time my car broke down in the middle of nowhere I was able to call and get help. Even the trooper who stopped to help had reception problems. His radio wouldn't work by my Verizon cell phone did. As a result I've been loyal to them - the one time I truly needed them they came through.

That said I would love the iPhone and might consider sucking up the data package to get it.

For me its all about the calendar. I found an iPhone/iPod Touch app that works - I haven't found a comparable Android app (and no the built in calendars for both aren't sufficient for my needs).

Posted by: archers44 | October 7, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

On a related topic - is there any news on whether Verizon will add to its (pathetic) Blackberry line this month??

I've been using the same phone for three years in the hope that something better comes along from Verizon/Blackberry - and nada.

As for switching to AT&T - if you want to actually have a phone that has reception and doesn't drop calls, you will regret switching from Verizon. My wife's have-to-have iPhone was cute but useless as, um, a phone. She just switched back to Verizon less than a month later.

Posted by: manatt | October 7, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

CES should be interesting.

@amy130 not sure if Apple has quite the same bargaining powerign that it did a year ago. There won't be the same deal in place that they got with AT&T.

Sadly, the carriers are winning.

Posted by: Corn_Laden | October 7, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I tend to agree Verizon and Apple have the same business model MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY. I don't see these two companies getting together anytime soon. Apple refuses to let companies run rough shot over them on ANYTHING, like software or emblems. Verizon wants everything their way. My logo my software changes and my apps. So unless both cave this will NOT happen. I had to check my calendar to make sure it wasn't April 1st.

Posted by: ghod | October 7, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Verizon will finally get the iPhone early next year BUT it will be the 4G-LTE model and NOT CDMA. Although rumors of CDMA being tested & even produced for Apple appear to be true my sources & belief is that this version of the CDMA iPhone is for OTHER carriers that won't have 4G-LTE anytime soon.

Since Verizon is rolling out 4G-LTE in 38 cities in November for mobile aircards and by February 2011 for phones it only makes sense to use the iPhone 4G as a marketing instrument to upgrade customers to its 4G network. And since the LTE standard is also coming to AT&T in late 2011 I think you can bank on the iPhone 4G-LTE coming out even before the CDMA version that will be used for lesser world-wide carriers.

Posted by: starpopper | October 7, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I don't care if the iPhone comes with a happy-ending massage app, I'm not going to be forced by any company to sign a bullying contract. The fact that Americans have bought into this drives me insane. We're a nation of bleating consumer sheep. It won't be long before we're signing contracts to drink tap water, and Americans will line up in droves to be told what company they can get their water from because they want a cool new water bottle that maintains a specific temperature and allows them to play tetris while sipping.
I'd love an iPhone, but I'm not buying into the contractual scam. Its just a phone.

Posted by: oo7 | October 7, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

By the way, you could laugh at me all day long if I was able to keep my StarTac flip phone. The 2007 digital conversion dropped support for that great phone and I really miss being able to avoid all of the BS like texting, emails, facebooking & twits associated with these so-called smart phones.

So I'll hold-out for another 6-months or so for the Verizon iPhone 4G-LTE while trudging along with my BB Storm that has email turned off.

Posted by: starpopper | October 7, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

@Clairevb:

Gee, I thought I was the only Verizon-hater on planet Earth!

I went with AT&T just to have the pleasure of dumping Verizon. The iPhone 4 was simply icing on the cake.

Posted by: pmendez | October 7, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Maybe if a big herd of iPhone users migrates to Verizon, those who remain with AT&T will get better reception due to less network overload.

Posted by: acoberst1 | October 7, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

If you carry your phone on a belt clip I feel embarassed for you.

Posted by: boise91801 | October 7, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Another year of Android sales, and no one will care of the iPhone is on Verizon. So, Apple is going to have to deal. However, I wouldn't expect Verizon to cripple the iPhone because they haven't done that to Androids. Maybe a logo, but no disabling functionality like they used to.

It will need CDMA even if it's LTE. Otherwise, it would only work in 4G cities. And, near-universal coverage is why people prefer Verizon.

Posted by: GregCleveland | October 7, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I love the "cargo cult" reference. I had never heard it before and it's so relevant.

Posted by: maxinea | October 7, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

It's hilarious that some people here think that Verizon will sell an LTE phone without CDMA that will only work in 38 cities and be an expensive paperweight if you move/travel out of those cities.

By the way, there's hundreds of millions of CDMA subscribers in China and India. The CDMA iPhone could be for them. There's a world outside the US.

Posted by: dazweeja | October 7, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

What strikes me with the antis' comments is most of these people are out of touch. They don't know much about the iPhone. One thinks you can only buy content from Apple using it. (False.) Another that the contract for the iPhone differs from other smartphone contracts. (It doesn't.) Others don't understand that Verizon owns the Droid brand and controls what software goes on those phones. And, so on.

The people itching for an iPhone on Verizon are better informed, having been reading about the iPhone for years. They know an iPhone on AT&T has simultaneous voice and data. (Not possible on Verizon's CDMA.) They are aware that contracts for smartphones are very similar, with mandatory data plans. They realize that apps are a method of delivery of content from mainly third-party vendors. Interestingly, the 'iPhone on Verizon' obsession has led to many better informed consumers.

Posted by: query0 | October 7, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

You are correct on point #4. There has at least been a CDMA 3GS last year. Also CDMA Ipads. Production model will be LTE.

Posted by: matrix2004 | October 7, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like China has it's eye on Apple. Mac lovers are not going to like any kind of hostile takeover sometime up the road. If Apple management thinks China's pockets are never ending. They're right!

Posted by: mikelliott | October 8, 2010 2:38 AM | Report abuse

Here is the thing that people who have older dumb phones and are not paying for data the thing is that if and I do mean if the iphone is coming to verizon in Jan. Vzw will ave new 3G data plans in place -- that is data capped plans. There will be no more unlimited data and in place whether the iPhone comes to vzw or not.

And don't let ATT fool you with there foolish "but we save you money by giving you a data cap and having a lower data charge" -- rubbish. It isn't about saving money today because tomorrow when you are pushing 5-20gbs of data per month from streaming HD movies to your phone or downloading files from home or just plain tethering you wont be able too with artificial data caps. That wonderful future of instant connectivity is a pipe dream with the carrier branded and controlled internet.

Imagine finding some awesome few apps that do this or that. Well forget it. No body will be downloading anything with data caps and constanly having to look over your shoulder to make sure you aren't going over your data limit.
It is just amazing to me that in 2010 -- we are retrograding instead of moving forward. Tisk tisk, still waiting to wake up this weird doctor who inspired alternative universe.
4g data caps will be even worse.

Posted by: Sofakingjewish | October 8, 2010 3:54 AM | Report abuse

Good comments, you guys are correct in that any VZ 4G-LTE iPhone will most likely have CDMA as well for use in 3G areas until the 4G network is complete in 2013. My comment was meant to address those that seem to think that a CDMA non-4G iPhone is coming to VZ. IF Apple builds one of these CDMA only iPhones it will only be used for other carriers, mostly foreign, not migrating to 4G-LTE anytime soon.

Posted by: starpopper | October 8, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

The New York Times has gotten into the "iVerizon" speculation:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/09/technology/09phone.html

I think, as with some commenters above, that the new iPhone that Verizon sells will be an LTE phone that is 4G-backward, such that it will work on older networks. What I would love to see (and it's possible because the Blackberry Storm has this) is the iPhone retain GSM capability. It would then be a true dragon slayer if that were to happen.

Posted by: peabody | October 9, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

"Here is the thing that people who have older dumb phones and are not paying for data the thing is that if and I do mean if the iphone is coming to verizon in Jan. Vzw will ave new 3G data plans in place -- that is data capped plans. There will be no more unlimited data and in place whether the iPhone comes to vzw or not."

This is the gist! I would never trade my Droid Incredible for an iPhone but that is my preference and iPhoner's are certainly entitled to their's. Having owned 7 "smartphones" in the last 10 years (included a PalmPhone, what was I thinking?) the new capped plans are going to put a serious crimp in their usefulness. Verizon and AT&T are about to kill the goose. The corporate Blackberry users won't care but small business and private use consumers will be hot on the look out that makes data use affordable. Could be great openings for Sprint and T-Mobile. Watch Virgin, they could pounce on the private use "unlimited data" market.

Posted by: TheBallCoach | October 11, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Rob, I usually appreciate your articles about the details of the tech world. BUT NOT THIS ONE.

You "hate this story." Your quote. "Make it go away." Your quote.

I say, so what if you have to answer persistent questions about iPhone-Verizon's possible introduction. You and all tech reporters have the easiest jobs in the world. THE EASIEST JOB IN THE WORLD. Can't take the pressure of those reader emails, eh? Too bad! Get a normal job in almost any other industry and you will find out what daily deadlines and real job pressure. Point is, I don't want to hear your complaints. Suck it up and deal with it.

Posted by: jcluma | October 12, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

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