USA Today reports that Verizon Wireless (VZ) and Apple (AAPL) are considering developing an iPhone for Verizon’s network with the goal of introducing it as early as next year, according to people familiar with the situation.
The unidentified sources said the two co.’s entered “high-level” discussions a few months ago when CEO Steve Jobs was still overseeing Apple’s day-to-day business.
If these rumors materialize in a reversal of fortune for AT&T (T) – then this will “mark the first time Apple has produced a version of the iPhone for a CDMA wireless network, which is different from AT&T’s GSM technology.” [USA Today]
The news is certainly not a good one from a business perspective for AT&T. The co’s exclusive deal to carry the iPhone in the U.S. expires sometime next year, and it is rumored that CEO Randall Stephenson is working hard at extending it until 2011. Stephenson’s persistency to extend the iPhone deal with Apple, is understandable. His company reported solid results in Q1’09 crediting it to iPhone sales and the resulting spike in data revenue. AT&T signed up 1.6 million iPhone customers during the quarter — 40% of them new to AT&T.
USA Today: Should Verizon succeed, it would be a big loss for AT&T, says Roger Entner, head of telecom research for Nielsen. “Breaking the (iPhone) exclusivity with AT&T is a huge thing,” he says. “That would send shivers into AT&T’s stock and senior leadership.”
By linking arms with Verizon, Entner says, Apple would gain access to its 80 million customers. While a few may already have an iPhone (some people have more than one carrier), the bulk don’t.