A curious report emerged Tuesday surrounding the seeming never-ending attempt by Verizon Wireless to break into the exclusive U.S. iPhone market. While previous reports have used anonymous sources in the will they, won’t they soap opera, the latest voice heard came from Verizon’s CEO.
Ivan Seidenberg, speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations, said his company has told Apple it would like to sell the iPhone, according to the AP. Although Seidenberg provided no details, such as when Verizon made the request or Apple’s response, the CEO did use a recent Wall Street Journal article to peg his hopes. The WSJ reported that Apple was developing two new iPhones – including one compatible with the CDMA technology used by Verizon.
Several analysts quickly deflated speculation the CDMA version signalled Apple would offer an iPhone for the largest U.S. wireless carrier. Instead, China or Japan are more likely first to see a CDMA iPhone.
Citigroup analyst Richard Gardner recently weighed-in on the Verizon iPhone question, telling investors such a deal might not happen until late 2010 or early 2011. Gardner cited delay in a “key component,” a possible reference to a Qualcomm chipset.
Other analysts believe the sticking point preventing an iPhone appearing at Verizon has less to do with technology than pricing. Earlier this year, UBS analyst Maynard Um said he felt a Verizon iPhone is “in the works,” but progress was stalled due to pricing differences. Apple was receiving $700 per iPhone from AT&T while Verizon pays $450 for Motorola’s Droid handset.
Seidenberg’s comments may be designed to counter a growing consensus that AT&T will retain its exclusive hold on U.S. iPhone sales through 2010. The Verizon CEO has also dismissed talk of a merger with Vodafone, according to other reports.