The iPhone 4 has been arriving on AT&T customer doorsteps for just about a week now, so it’s probably time we heard yet another report about the iPhone coming to Verizon Wireless. Today, Bloomberg cites “two people familiar with the plans” saying that Verizon will start selling Apple’s iPhone in January. Verizon and Apple spokespeople aren’t talking.
I’ve lost track of how many times we’re heard about Verizon “imminently” or “semi-imminently” getting the iPhone. Who benefits by these unconfirmed reports? Certainly not competitors like Research In Motion (RIM), whose shares were down today. Sales of the heavily advertised Droid devices on Verizon’s network also will be down if people decide to wait for the iPhone to reach Verizon.
Until Verizon Wireless and Apple make it official, it’s all a big uncertainty. Popular opinion is Verizon eventually will get the iPhone, and executives there have publicly shared their interest, but they usually say the ball’s in Apple’s court.
I still wonder how much of the ball is in Apple’s court. Does that mean Apple has to figure out a way out of an exclusivity contract with AT&T to make it happen? Or does it simply mean Apple has to figure out whether its first device for Verizon’s network will be CDMA or LTE?
And there’s something else at play here too, which never really occurred to me until recently. Apple’s iAds is set to debut July 1. CEO Steve Jobs described it as a way for Apple developers to make money from their apps. But the mobile advertising industry is destined for big money (at least, it would seem that way given Apple’s and Google’s investments in the space, right?). I don’t see anywhere in Apple’s iAds system – and this may not be public information – where the carrier directly benefits in a revenue share.
Would Verizon really want to cede control over that to Apple? Maybe all the subscriber dollars that Verizon would get from iPhone customers would more than make up for not getting any mobile ad revenue, but it’s hard to imagine someone at Verizon wouldn’t at least take a gander at that component of the picture.
Such musings are food for thought, but until Verizon and Apple confirm a due date, I don’t see a lot of folks benefiting from “Verizon Getting the iPhone” by XYZ timeframe reports. These two companies stand to gain the most by timing their announcements as close as possible to the actual release date. In the interim, Verizon loses potential Droid comers, and Apple loses anyone new they could have added to AT&T’s network. And throwing this uncertainty into the mix is a good way to tick off Verizon’s other device partners, not to mention one high-profile partner named Google.
Right now, the reports mostly serve as fodder for bloggers like me, so I guess there is something positive to come out of it (for me.) By the way, did I mention that just last week, I overheard someone at Starbucks say that Verizon would be getting the iPhone by next summer?