Apple's iPhone going to Sprint?

Summary:Apple is reportedly making CDMA iPhones for some carrier. But that carrier doesn't appear to be Verizon Wireless. That leaves Sprint as a new iPhone carrier.

Apple is reportedly making CDMA iPhones for some carrier. But that carrier doesn't appear to be Verizon Wireless.

On Wednesday, Susquehanna Financial Group Jeffrey Fidacaro said in a research note:

In line with expectations for an early CY11 launch of a CDMA iPhone, our checks indicate that 1QFY11 (December) CDMA iPhone production estimates are currently at 3 mln (unchanged from last month), putting total iPhone production (3 GS, iPhone 4, CDMA iPhone) at 21 mln-22 mln (up 5% from 20 mln-21 mln units previously). The slight increase is indicative of continued demand for iPhone 4 and increased distribution.

The natural assumption is that the iPhone would go to Verizon.

And then Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg spoke at the Goldman Sachs conference Thursday morning.

The key highlights from Seidenberg's talk via AP and the Wall Street Journal:

  • Verizon doesn't have an iPhone deficit and is doing fine with Android.
  • Apple will hopefully build devices for Verizon's LTE network at some point and "get with the program."
  • Tiered pricing is likely next year.

Sure doesn't sound like Verizon is plotting an iPhone launch. That leaves Sprint as a natural carrier for the iPhone in the U.S. A 4G WiMax iPhone could be pretty powerful.

Update:

Here's what Seidenberg said about landing  the iPhone for Verizon:

This is like the Knicks getting Carmelo Anthony, you know. Like it would be really good if the Knicks got Carmelo Anthony but they have to play the game to get him. Right? So here is kind of like the way I would look at that. We have worked hard to make our network a destination for all the suppliers to develop devices and equipment. Because we think we have the best value proposition to attract customers. So that is our view.

So the iPhone, AT&T has done a wonderful job with it, Apple obviously has done a wonderful job with it. We were not in the game because it was GSM-based, it was global standard, really not there. We have worked hard at building a franchise out of Droid which proves that if there is an alternative, an acceptable alternative to the iPhone, and a great network and a great distribution channel, the market will go that direction.

I’m hoping that the success we have had with the Droid will lead us to the place where Apple, Samsung, Motorola, Huawei even, will want to build 4G devices and accelerate the ecosystem development so that the number of devices that will be available on 4G will be extraordinary. And our view would be we would want to carry them all.

I can’t speak for Apple but my view is there is a lot of momentum in the industry for people to move on the 4G issues quicker. Now there was a fear that we build a network and that the devices wouldn’t be there. Well, we are going to have a tablet. We have already announced one. There will be other tablets coming out. We have got a device lineup that would include some 4G capability starting in the first quarter.

We don’t feel like we have an iPhone deficit. We would love to carry it when we get there but we have to earn it. And I think what we need to do is show all the suppliers that we have equal treatment and we have the best network for people to put all their equipment on. So the answer to your question is I am believing that 4G will accelerate the process and any other decisions that Apple makes would be fine with us and I think we are running our business to make ourselves the destination for all of the key tablets and devices and hopefully at some point, Apple will get with the program.

Topics: Verizon, Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones, Telcos

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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