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For Verizon's LTE partners, a 3G iPhone creates opportunity

As the industry gushes over a Verizon iPhone, competitors like Motorola Mobility should see this as an opportunity
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Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive on

The headlines across the tech beat this morning have been dominated by the news of a CDMA iPhone coming to Verizon. And for good reason - it has probably been the single biggest request since the iPhone was originally introduced in 2007.

And I love how it's all being debated in the dueling blogs and dueling blog comments across the blogosphere. 3G vs. 4G. Buy now vs. Buy Later. Mobile hot spot vs. voice/data multitasking. Even Wall Street is chiming in, with analysts gushing over the news.

So how does this make you feel if you're Motorola or HTC, which were sharing the spotlight with Verizon last week in Las Vegas over the latest and greatest LTE-powered Android devices headed for the market in the next few months.

Actually, you're probably feeling pretty good right about now - especially since we now know that Apple is sticking with 3G on this Verizon device. According to a post on Tech Trader Daily, Lawrence Harris, an analyst with C.L. King & Associates, seems to see this as an opportunity for a company like Motorola to remain focused on moving forward in the LTE game without having to worry about Apple in the short-term.

Sure, Apple's presence will have an impact - but there are already plenty of people who are taking a step back to look at their options before jumping into a two-year contract on a 3G-powered iPhone, even if it is on Verizon.

Motorola's Droid Bionic, as well as HTC's Thunderbolt, were the among the smartphone darlings at CES, where Verizon also noted that LTE service would be added to about 140 markets on top of the current 38 this year and that a national LTE connection would blanket the country within 3 years.

Also: CES: Get ready for 4G LTEVerizon unveils 10 consumer devices

On Wall Street today, analysts were quick to praise the deal, offering sales estimates of anywhere from 7 million to 12 million Verizon iPhones this year. The TTD blog offered some of the bullish notes from analysts this afternoon, with some calling the deal one that can double Apple's market opportunity in the U.S. The blog quotes Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who is predictably bullish on Apple, called the launch "the single biggest lever Apple has to pull in calendar 2011." If Apple can sell as many iPhones on Verizon this year as it did with AT&T last year - roughly 15 million - the company could add $5.9 billion in revenue this year.

Shares of Apple were down slightly in regular trading, closing at $341.34. Shares of Verizon were down nearly 2 percent in regular trading, closing at $35.28.

And for the sake of comparison, shares of Motorola Mobility dipped just before the Verizon iPhone news hit (see chart) but seemed to recover quickly, closing with a slight gain - at $32.43 - during regular trading.

Shares of AT&T shares dipped nearly 2 percent, closing at $27.83 and Sprint was down nearly 4 percent, closing at $4.41.

Motorola Mobility - Jan. 11, 2011

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