Rumors are not
news, I know… but when enough reports come together, all pointing in the same direction, then at a given point it's worth stopping and taking a look at what it all adds up to. If you're bored by all the rumor talk (and believe me, I'm pretty sick of it myself), please accept my apologies, and don't click the MORE link. For the sake of some folks out there, though - people who are wondering if they should buy an iPhone 4 now, for example, or if they should extend their AT&T contract - let's look at what the evidence there is for a Verizon iPhone in 2011.
Verizon Wireless - just to review - uses a different telephony standard from AT&T and the other big US carriers. All current iPhones use GSM, so there would need to be a different device to work on Verizon's CDMA network. According to many observers, Apple has been working on an iPhone compatible with the largets US network for a long time now. In particular, John Gruber - who has a lot of inside sources and is so reliably pro-Apple that some people think that Steve Jobs pays him off
- has been saying for a while that "Apple has a skunkworks CDMA iPhone project" like the skunkworks Intel Mac project back in the day when Mac OS X only ran on PowerPC.
Gruber went further this week
and specifically identified the CDMA iPhone by the Apple codename N92 (the iPhone 4, you may remember, was called N89 before its release
). The phone, he says, is in Engineering Verification Test phase, which is limited to testing of one-off units inside the company. DVT, or Design Verification Test phase, is when Apple employees take phones out in the world (and lose them
, sometimes). So if the CDMA phone takes that next step, it means the wheels need to already be turning for production in China.
Bolstering this idea, TechCrunch's Steve Cheney
reported at the beginning of the week that Apple is ordering millions of CDMA chips from Qualcomm. If Gruber is right that the VeriPhone is in EVT, then Apple would need to place that order right about now to have production ready by the end of the year. And as Michael reported the same day
, leaks from the Asian manufacturing industry independently corroborated this story, and are indicating that a CDMA phone (possibly made of Apple's new Magic Metal
) will be built by Pegatron
for Verizon and China Telecom.
Also this week, we learned that AT&T revealed in a filing to the SEC
that it's warning its investors about possible negative effects when "exclusivity arrangements end" for popular smartphones. Since the iPhone is the only AT&T-exclusive smartphone that can be considered "popular," it's pretty clear what they were referring to. Big companies don't risk upsetting their investors for no reason. And finally, another piece of the puzzle came with the announcement this week that Verizon Chief Executive Officer Ivan Seidenberg had been selected to give the high-profile keynote address
at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next January. The head of the big electronics confab said he'd be looking forward to hear about "Verizon’s next generation of products," which could certainly include a certain popular smartphone currently only available on a certain unpopular carrier.
As Yogi Berra said, "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." We don't really know whether any of these reports are true, obviously. However, if you think you can wait until January for your next phone, and won't owe AT&T a huge early termination fee… it might not be a bad idea to wait and see what happens.