A deal is in the works for Verizon to carry a special CDMA version of the iPhone, according to an analyst. If the two companies can come to terms, the iPhone could be running on Verizon's 3G network by the middle of 2010, according to UBS Investment Research analyst Maynard J. Um.
Apple has seen, in country after country where the iPhone is available on multiple carriers, a marked uptick in sales. However, in the largest market there is only one carrier, because Apple had made a long term agreement with AT&T. The original deal was reported to be for a five year term, though it's been widely rumored that the term was changed when the AT&T agreed to heavily subsidize the expensive iPhone 3G. Most observers believe that the arrangement will expire this year.
Rumors and reports from cell phone chip manufacturers like Qualcomm have persistently suggested that a CDMA-capable version of the iPhone may come to market this year. Verizon's CEO also fed these rumors by saying his network "could handle" the iPhone.
UBS indicates that Apple and Verizon are currently in negotiations. "We believe a CDMA-iPhone is also in the works," analyst Um wrote in a note to investors, as AppleInsider reports
. "We believe Verizon Wireless and Apple may currently be apart on pricing."
Verizon has been harshly critical of AT&T's 3G network in its "There's a Map for That" ad campaign, and poked fun at the iPhone in its ads for the Motorola Droid smartphone, This has led some observers to doubt that Apple would bring the iPhone to Verizon, which is also beginning to market Palm smartphones and Google's HTC-manufactured Nexus One.
Many consumers have expressed disappointment with AT&T's network performance, and the company received the lowest rating of all major US carriers in a recent survey
, while Verizon came in first. Also, the iPhone currently runs only on UMTS/GSM networks, and adding CDMA capability would allow the phone to be used on more systems worldwide. If the two companies can agree on pricing, a potentially enormous market could be opened up for the iPhone.