iPhone Coming to Verizon in Early 2011, Says Fortune
Friday's confirmation comes after years of negotiations between Seidenberg, Steve Jobs and Lowell McAdams, who is slated to helm the Verizon ship when Seidenberg steps down next year. The company initially turned down the iPhone in 2005, primarily because Apple, in Verizon's view, demanded too much control over retail sales of the device, and too hefty a cut of the monthly charges. It wasn't until 2007, when Seidenberg finally reached out to Apple, that the talks began in earnest.
Jobs was initially reluctant to join forces with Verizon, whose CDMA network didn't have the same international compatibility that AT&T's GSM does. Seidenberg countered that Verizon's 4G network would be faster and more reliable, and that its 3G network was already superior to AT&T's. According to Seidenberg, Jobs "listened politely," but declined to strike a deal. Shortly after the iPhone launched on AT&T's troubled 3G network, however, McAdams contacted Jobs once again, and implored him to reconsider a deal with Verizon. "Yeah, you're probably right," Jobs reportedly told Seidenberg's heir apparent. "We have missed something."
The first evidence of this rekindled romance came earlier this month, when Verizon began selling a Wi-Fi only version of the iPad -- a move widely (and accurately) considered to be a harbinger of an inevitable iPhone launch. So far, both companies have remained tight-lipped about the launch, but sources close to the discussion tell Fortune that the phone will run on Verizon's CDMA 3G network, and that it probably won't have a special chip for international compatibility.
It remains to be seen, of course, whether or not Verizon's network can actually succeed where AT&T's has thus far failed. "We carry half the U.S. wireless data on the fastest 3G network," AT&T spokesman Larry Solomon says. "Verizon's network hasn't been battle-tested yet, so you don't know if they can handle the data load or not." At this point, though, many jaded iPhone users will probably seize the opportunity to jump to any other carrier, as long as it's not AT&T. Analysts say the Verizon name alone could help Apple sell 8 to 9 million iPhones next year, and may give Seidenberg the rare opportunity to ride into the sunset on a high note.