The rumor that just won't die crossed over from the tech blogosphere to the heart of the mainstream media this week, with reports on the Wall Street Journal
and the New York Times
both claiming that Verizon will get the iPhone next year. While obviously it's all hearsay at this point, we are talking about two of the most prestigious papers in the US, which would be unlikely to go with a story they hadn't very carefully checked out. The reports cover the same information, but the Journal
story was quietly changed after it was published, deleting any mention of Verizon's CDMA network and referring only to an "alternative wireless technology used by Verizon," which could refer to the carrier's new 4G network based on LTE.
The Wall Street Journal
published a report on Wednesday that began "Apple Inc. plans to begin mass producing a new iPhone by the end of 2010 that would allow Verizon Wireless to sell the smartphone early next year." The story by Yukari Iwatani Kane and Ting-I Tsai went on to say that "the new iPhone would be similar in design to the iPhone 4 currently sold by AT&T Inc. but would be based on an alternative wireless technology called CDMA used by Verizon." By Thursday morning, though, the story on the Journal's website
had changed to begin with the flat statement that "AT&T Inc. is about to lose its lock on the iPhone," as opposed to the more ambiguous "would allow" from the earlier version, and emphasized in the following paragraph that the agreement with Verizon that would "end an exclusive deal with AT&T."
Additionally, the updated article omits any reference to CDMA, except for a reference to an earlier report in March. Instead, the rewritten piece
talks only about an "alternative wireless technology." Now, maybe it was just an editorial decision to change the wording up for style reasons, but the fact that the specific statement about Verizon was added and the specific statement about CDMA was removed suggests that the writers got new information. And in terms of "alternative wireless technologies," it makes a lot more sense for Apple to build a new phone compatible with Verizon's new Long Term Evolution (LTE), than it would to build in support for CDMA, which is a dying standard. AT&T - as well as T-Mobile and a host of other carriers around the world - is also transitioning to the new standard, which offers up to ten times faster data rates than AT&T's UMTS 3G system (and even more improvement over Verizon's creaky EV-DO network, which can't even support simultaneous voice and data). Verizon's LTE network will be available in 38 cities in the US, reportedly reaching 110 million people by the end of this year. AT&T is currently field testing its LTE network in Baltimore and Dallas, and it's supposed to go live by mid-2011
, initially covering 70 to 75 million people.
The New York Times
didn't add any specific details, other than to report the same story in its own amusing old-school style (writing CDMA as C.D.M.A. and referring to Apple's CEO as "Mr. Steven P. Jobs"). However, it did say it had confirmed the story with "a person in direct contact with Apple… who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity because the plans were supposed to be confidential and he did not want to alienate his contacts at Apple." The Times
is such an authoritative source of news that by the end of the day, the story had been picked up by newspapers throughout the US, which all reported as fact
that "Apple Inc. plans to make a version of its popular iPhone 4 available through Verizon Wireless by early next year."