Thursday, October 7, 2010

WSJ beefs up its story, insists Verizon 'will' get iPhone 4 next year

Posted by OurTech Team | Thursday, October 7, 2010 | Category: , |

I was pretty skeptical of the Wall Street Journal’s initial iPhone story Wednesday afternoon, which claimed — yet again — that Apple was prepping a "Verizon-ready" CDMA iPhone but offered nothing new in the way of details, nor any assurances that Verizon Wireless itself would get the iPhone. We’ve heard all this before, I wrote Wednesday. Where’s the beef?

Well, the Journal went ahead and cooked up more details overnight, and added a crucial detail that was missing the first time around: Not only will there be an iPhone for CDMA networks next year, but Verizon Wireless in particular "will" — not "could," not "may," but "will" — start selling it "early next year."

Now that’s more like it.

Verizon staffers have "been meeting" with Apple, the Journal adds, as well as poking, prodding and otherwise shoring up Verizon’s wireless capacity to prepare for a crush of data-hungry iPhone users and "avoid the kind of public relations hit that AT&T took" after its network buckled under the strain.

Yes, the new Verizon iPhone "spells the end" of AT&T’s cozy exclusivity deal with Apple, says the Journal, which also reports that the new handset will "resemble the iPhone 4 currently sold by AT&T" but will feature a CDMA chip built by Qualcomm.

Needless to say, Apple (still) isn’t talking. Verizon Communications President Lowell McAdam (as quoted in the Journal story) would tell conventioneers at the CTIA Wireless confab Wednesday only that Apple and Verizon might join forces "at some point" — beyond that, "I don’t have anything to say."

But wait, you might say. Why would Apple bother with a CDMA iPhone when Verizon’s about to launch its 4G LTE network? Well, take a closer look at Verizon’s LTE announcement from Wednesday: We’re talking just 38 "major metropolitan areas" with speedy LTE data coverage by the end of the year, and my guess is that it’ll be many months — if not a year or longer — before Verizon’s LTE coverage area even begins to compare with its huge 3G footprint.

I’m sure there will be an LTE-ready iPhone eventually (and remember, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile all plan on going the LTE way, with Sprint the lone 4G WiMax holdout), but probably not until LTE coverage has spread significantly from coast to coast. I’m thinking 2012 at the earliest.

So why didn’t Verizon get an iPhone in the first place? The Journal fills in a few interesting details on that point, saying that Verizon "balked" at Apple’s insistence that the iPhone not be sold by the carrier’s "retail partners." Apple also reportedly refused to budge on Verizon’s demand to put its V Cast-branded streaming media app on the iPhone, the Journal says.

So, if Verizon is getting the iPhone, who compromised on those deal points? Will there be a big V Cast icon on Verizon’s iPhone 4 — one that perhaps you won't be able to delete? Well, maybe so, although with the new folders feature in iOS 4.0, it’s pretty easy to hide extraneous icons (like Apple’s Stocks, Weather and Compass apps) and tuck them away on a far-flung screen.

Or maybe it was Verizon that knuckled under.

In any case, this revised version of the Journal’s iPhone story looks a lot more solid — and believable — to me. We’ve finally got more details, and while the story is still based on the word of anonymous sources, the Journal isn’t hedging in its prediction that Verizon "will" get the iPhone — no "ifs," "ands" or "buts."

This is starting to get interesting.

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