The Verizon iPhone has been sworn by many as a real deal in the works, destined for release in early 2011. I’m on the camp where, when it comes to Apple products, it’s only official when Apple says so. In addition to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times independently reporting that the Verizon iPhone is guaranteed in early 2011, Fortune now claims to have independently confirmed this information as well.
Speculation that the Apple smartphone would hit the nation’s largest network came with news of the iPad being available for sale at Verizon yesterday. If the carrier was selling the iPad, what would stop it from trying to sell the iPhone, too?
Picking up the iPhone may just make it difficult to near impossible for AT&T to keep up and ever surpass Verizon. Analysts are estimating that 8 to 9 million of the CDMA variant of the smartphone could be sold next year. And while Verizon has done well with its Droid line-up, there are still more iPhones active on AT&T’s network than there are Droids on Big Red’s:
But there are vastly fewer Droids on the Verizon network (the company won’t say how many) than iPhones on AT&T. And when the iPhone arrives, Verizon’s network –billed as the “nation’s most reliable” — will be assaulted by millions of data-hungry users downloading apps, watching videos, and yes, even making phone calls. First in line to buy will be many long-suffering Verizon subscribers, who probably feel a little like Cubs fans in a crowd of Yankee supporters whenever they’re around their iPhone-wielding friends. But AT&T can expect some defections too. Some 18% of AT&T iPhone users surveyed by Credit Suisse said they’d consider switching carriers if Verizon got an iPhone. Says current iPhone user David Geffen: “I can’t wait to get the iPhone with Verizon.”
Despite AT&T’s constant reassurance that it will be fine without the iPhone, it seems like it could be in pretty deep trouble if or when Verizon picks it up. More recently, AT&T has both assured investors that things will be OK without Apple while diversifying and focusing on other handsets at the same time.
This is a lot of news and analysis on a device that is still highly speculated. And I’ll have to say it again: I’ll believe it when I see it.