iPhone on Verizon in January: 4 Reasons it Could Happen


If you read that headline and reacted like I did when I saw it all over the net, then you probably thought or even said out loud, Here we go again.” It seems like the “Coming to Verizon” rumor gets attached to the iPhone more than any other. In fact, this rumor has probably been around since the first iPhone dropped a call; maybe longer. And when people were saying it before the iPhone 4 launch I didn’t believe it – hoped but didn’t believe it. But when a reputable news source, that doesn’t often posts rumors without corroboration, carries it; then you are forced to at least take a look.

Bloomberg reported on the iPhone coming to Verizon rumor yesterday with great confidence saying:

The device will be available to customers in January, according to the people, who declined to be named because the information isn’t public.

In this case the people” are two unnamed sources familiar with plans” to make the move to the largest US mobile phone carrier.

All respect to Bloomberg, we’ve heard these kinds of unnamed sources cited in most of the other rounds of rumors too. What make this more credible than those? Here are a few possible reasons:

  1. AT&T’s Generosity: As GIGAOM surmised, the generosity of AT&T moving up many of its customers upgrade dates so they could cash in on the iPhone 4 release was more about locking in customers to a two year contract to fend off a mass exodus at the end of its exclusive deal with Apple. AT&T knows when the ink on that contract starts to fade and it’s clear that this move was not really about generosity but keeping customers.
  2. AT&T Network Upgrades: The upgrades we reported earlier in the AT&T 3G network are also an attempt to keep customers. Those upgrades will be going online in the next 60-90 days giving people like me, who live in Edge only areas, pause about switching due to network speed. I’m less likely to make the jump if I have both a 2 year contract and now adequate network speed.
  3. Ordering Issues: Sumocat at Gottabemobile states that the breakdown of the upgrade ordering process this year proves that there is no way Apple could have handled a dual carrier upgrade. So doing one in January would take the pressure off. That way you will have people on two upgrade cycles AT&T in the summer and Verizon in the winter. Would they then offer hardware and/or software upgrades for each new yearly launch meaning two major improvements a year? I doubt that. So one group would have to wait longer than the other for the next generation. But this is still a plausible explanation for the rumor’s credibility this time around.
  4. Blind Dog Reasoning: Finally, there is the blind dog reason. You’ve heard the proverb that even a blind dog gets a bone every once in a while. The Technologizer said it best speaking of Ms. Thomason, the Bloomberg reporter who broke the story:

“I hope she’s right, and maybe she is. I mean, odds are that somebody will report this news and be accurate sooner or later. But so far, Apple-Verizon rumors including some as convincing-sounding as Thomson’s have an unblemished record of resulting in absolutely nothing.” – Harry McCracken

Not everyone is on board.  John Biggs at TechCrunch calls the rumor bogus for one reason. CDMA v. GSM. Verizon’s cellular technology is CDMA while AT&T and practically the rest of the world use GSM. Biggs reasons that Apple won’t give up the ability to make a handset that works in more places just to bring the phone to Verizon; at least until Verizon has international radio technology too.

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