There are few activities that are more fun or frustrating as speculating about when Verizon Wireless will get the iPhone. I feel the desire to wail like the character played by actor/director Tommy Wiseau in that horrible film “The Room,” where he says: “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!”
Actually, watching that film is kind of like speculating about the iPhone at Verizon. You know it’s a bad movie, but you can’t turn away from it for long. It just pulls you back in.
Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia XIX Conference yesterday, Verizon Communications Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg gave us a little more to work with, leading some of us to believe that when Apple does provide an iPhone for Verizon, it will run on LTE rather than CDMA. He didn’t say this will come to be, but the remark about Verizon providing the best 4G network for a variety of equipment suppliers (including Apple) and “hopefully, at some point, Apple will get with the program,” leads one to believe that it would be LTE. (Of course, all of this could be a strategy to throw us off the trail, which may or may not work. Any LTE device coming from Apple, depending on the timing, ideally would have dual CDMA/LTE capability for those markets where LTE isn’t yet deployed. Seidenberg said Verizon would be at 90 percent buildout for LTE in two years – that’s quite a while.)
The talk of LTE – and I am not going to use the term “4G” since that has yet to be defined as a standard – brings me back to earlier questions around what Apple would gain by building a CDMA-only device when the network is moving to LTE. While it could, is it worth all the time and trouble to develop solely for CDMA? Or are the recent reports about production ramping up for a CDMA iPhone really about other CDMA carriers? If so, that wouldn’t seem to be Apple’s A game if it doesn’t include the largest U.S. CDMA carrier.
If Apple does develop an iPhone running on LTE, how much time would it take? It could already have the specs, but it seems to me that such a device ought to run on more than just North American frequencies. I’m not sure that adding support for LTE networks that don’t yet exist is such a quick and easy thing to do. Granted, there has been talk that more commercial-ready devices will show up a lot closer to the LTE network launch than we’ve seen with some past network technology migrations, but I’m not sure what support they will have overseas. Then again, overseas compatibility hasn’t exactly been a strong point for CDMA.
Something else to consider is the fan base that has built around Android, Droid and Google. Apple loses potential customers with nearly every new Android device that launches. Plus, I can’t imagine Verizon lining up the iPhone on its network without thoroughly testing it. Would Verizon accept a device with antenna problems?
Oh, you’re tearing me apart!