Apple will reportedly bring its iPhone to the Verizon Wireless network in early 2011. Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless is launching Long-Term Evolution in 38 markets by the end of the year. That's a recipe for gadget nirvana.
Let's add up the moving parts:
Add it up and you have a potential iPhone-LTE match that could be a game changer, but Verizon appears to hold the cards. Verizon Wireless chief Lowell McAdam said "I expect at some point in time our business interests will align." He added that LTE could be a great catalyst for Apple to want to bring smartphones and tablets to Verizon.
The only downside---for Verizon---is that this news will freeze a lot of upgrades.
In some respects, Apple had to make the Verizon move. Android devices are swamping the market and Apple was losing share by being exclusive to AT&T. A Verizon Wireless-iPhone should move more units and give Apple a major shot of doubling distribution in the U.S.
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Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg seemed to throw cold water on the iPhone chatter last month, but left the window open to a deal. Translation: Verizon's comments were a negotiating ploy. Seidenberg said:
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.
Bottom line: Apple and Verizon are playing iPhone negotiation games, but the LTE card may be too hard to resist for both parties.