We’ve fielded a couple of tips (some more sketchy than others) about EVDO iPhones floating around Cupertino in the past, but today’s tipster seems a little bit more sure of himself. Besides having some Verizon insider credentials, he seems to know way too much about Verizon-Apple politics. According to him, Apple will be announcing iPhones for Verizon Wireless in 2009, perhaps as early Macworld 2009. Negotiations between Apple and Verizon are ongoing but they expect to hammer out agreements by the end of the year.
This isn’t a huge surprise for a number of reasons:
- Apple has been scouting out EVDO and CDMA Engineers for months in their online iPhone job postings (here, here, here and here). Yes, some of these skills overlap with UTMS and CDMA can also refer to the broad swath of 3G Technologies…but come on…don’t put "EVDO" on the job description if it ain’t true.. (BTW, WiMax is also littered throughout Apple’s Job postings…interesting/digress)
- No matter how big AT&T is and how much range they cover, leaving out Verizon and to a lesser extent Sprint, will be eliminating a broad swath of the US wireless market. If Apple is serious about competing with Blackberry, Symbian and Android, they will have to broaden their carrier footprint. One carrier does not a platform make. Apple will need a way to grow its market after AT&T is saturated.
- LTE technology won’t be mature until well into 2010. Apple can’t afford to wait that long to broaden its carrier footprint
- Who is happy with Rogers in Canada (*crickets*)? EVDO opens up to new carriers there as well.
- Verizon wireless is a partnership between Verizon communications and Vodafone. Vodafone, you’ll recall, has contracts with Apple for iPhones in around 15 markets around the world. Apple has a working relationship with Vodafone (and Tmobile obviously).
- Apple has just started going "Open" in a few markets, including Hong Kong. This will likely increase the number of unlocked 3G iPhones on the world market (South Africa is also open). While this won’t benefit Verizon directly, it certainly shows that Apple is considering being more "carrier agnostic."
- Tim Cook, famously said that Apple wasn’t married to the one carrier/country model. As Apple expands, it is going more and more open.
- Verizon’s iPhone Cheat sheet was weak and their arguments about Stevo getting old were silly. They’d rather play ball with Apple than try to defend itself against it.
- Apple originally wanted to go with Verizon for the iPhone. Some of the original disagreements included "not carrying the iPhone at Best Buy and hardware reliability" – see quote below. AT&T was a second choice. When Verizon balked, Apple went to AT&T…Think Verizon is happy about that decision (no) or willing to reconsider Apple’s overtures (yes)?
According to Verizon, Apple CEO Steve Jobs insisted that he have hard control over iPhone distribution.
The problem? While Apple and Verizon stores would have it, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and other Verizon distributors could have been left out. "That would have put our own distribution partners at a disadvantage" to Apple and Verizon stores, Gerace said.
Customer care was another hitch: If an iPhone went haywire, Apple wanted sole discretion over whether to replace or repair the phone. "They would have been stepping in between us and our customers to the point where we would have almost had to take a back seat … on hardware and service support," Gerace says.
The number one reason people think AT&T is the only US carrier that Apple will visit is because a couple of falsely reported rumors by USA Today that "revealed" Apple has signed exclusivity deals with AT&T. Depending on whether you trust the original article which said it would be five years or the latest article which says two years, or any of the other speculation out there (CNN says 2009), nothing public has ever been uncovered that has specified the length of AT&T-Apple exclusivity deals. At the original iPhone announcement at Macworld 2007, Cingular’s CEO Stan Sigmund indicated that Apple and Cingular had signed a multi(2?)-year deal. A Macworld 2009 launch would put the AT&T-Apple exclusivity at 18 months from mid 2007 launch, WWDC 2009 would be 2 years from launch. Add 6 months for time since the announcement.
There is no reason why Apple wouldn’t also be chatting with Sprint and T-mobile about possible deals as well. We welcome some carrier competition in the US iPhone field.
The sooner the better.