With news today that Verizon will deploy its 4G network to 38 cities, including Charlotte, by year's end, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple will begin to mass produce a Verizon iPhone by the end of the year.
The Journal writes that Verizon could sell the smartphone in early 2011, quoting sources who had been briefed by Apple.
Apple has long touted the iPhones ability to do voice and data at the same time, something that users of Verizon's current 3G network are unable to do. With 4G arriving soon, that would no longer be an issue. The initial Verizon iPhone apparently would be based on the company's current 3G network, however.
This news, if true, could be big for Apple and hurt AT&T, Apple's current provider which allowed current customers to get the new iPhone 4 in mid-contract without penalty this year.
Many speculated that was done to lock up those users in new two-year agreements with an increased termination fee.
AT&T chairman Randall Stephenson said last month that he felt that because so many iPhone customers were in family plans, he didn't think the company would be too hurt by a new carrier for the Apple phone. The thinking there is, say, if a family has three iPhones on AT&T, it would have to pay three termination fees and buy three new iPhones somewhere else. That would cost well over $1,000.
But what if Verizon is able to offer the buy-one-get-one-free specials it's been running with Android phones, or even offers to buy out the contract for AT&T customers switching over?
This is an important time in the cell phone wars for sure.
Also, a Morpace Omibus poll of 1,000 Americans showed that more than half of current Verizon customers intend to get an iPhone with Verizon.
A Deloitte study found that close to half of all U.S. iPhone customers on AT&T would be 'interested' in a Verizon iPhone.
The Wall Street Journal said the upcoming Verizon iPhone would be similar in design to the current iPhone 4 and is expected in the first quarter of 2011. The WSJ also said Apple is working on iPhone 5 and it will have a "different form factor" than those currently available (larger screen iPhone XL perhaps?).
I would expect that if iPhone is not compatible with Verizon's 4G network, iPhone 5 would be. But would you want to get a 3G iPhone on Verizon in February, knowing the faster version was coming in June?
Interesting days ahead. The next time Steve Jobs puts on the black turtleneck and hits the stage might be the biggest "And One More Thing" news conference that company has seen yet.