Thursday, 7 October 2010

Apple readying iPhone for Verizon, analyst says

By Suzanne Choney

A new analyst's report says that Apple is indeed getting a version of the iPhone ready that would run on Verizon Wireless' network.

Reports last June and March indicated the popular phone is on its way to Verizon in the year ahead. Since it first went on sale in 2007, the iPhone has been carried exclusively by AT&T in the United States, but that exclusivity agreement is expected to end.

AppleInsider says that Wednesday, Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Jeffrey Fidacaro "said in a note to investors ... that checks with overseas suppliers indicated Apple is prepared to build 3 million CDMA iPhones in December, keeping the device on track for an early 2011 launch" with Verizon, which uses CDMA technology for its network, as does Sprint. AT&T and T-Mobile use the more widespread GSM technology.

Apple, Verizon and AT&T are generally keeping tight-lipped about the iPhone, although AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson Tuesday played down concerns about losing iPhone subscribers to another carrier (primarily Verizon, AT&T's main competitor).

At a Goldman Sachs conference, Stephenson said about 80 percent of iPhone users are either in family plans or using the device through their companies, making it difficult for them to get out of their contracts.

Still, two new studies — one from Credit Suisse and another from Deloitte professional services firm — replicate other findings that cell phone users would be quite happy to see — and buy — the iPhone if it were on Verizon's network. AT&T has been working feverishly to upgrade its network to deal with data demands from smart phone customers, and in particular, those using the iPhone.

Reuters said Wednesday results of a study done by Deloitte found that close to half of iPhone users in the U.S. would be "very interested" in moving from AT&T to Verizon.

"If another carrier were to pick up the iPhone, you would probably see a number of defections," Ed Moran, director of insights and product innovation at Deloitte, told Reuters.

The Credit Suisse survey said that 63 percent of existing iPhone owners would stay with AT&T no matter what, according to SlashGear, but 28 percent would defect (23 percent to Verizon, 3 percent to Sprint, 2 percent to T-Mobile).

Earlier this month, Piper Jaffray found that for prospective buyers, not having the iPhone on Verizon's network is three times more of an issue than the iPhone 4's antenna problem when it comes to holding back buyers. (The phone's antenna wraps around the exterior of the phone, leading to reduced signal strength for some users, a problem remedied by the use of a rubber bumper).

And yet another firm, ChangeWave Research, said mid-summer in its survey of iPhone 4 owners that the phone's "biggest Achilles' heel ... remains AT&T," with 27 percent of owners saying they don't like having to use the carrier in order to have the iPhone, and 24 percent saying they dislike the coverage, speed and quality of AT&T's network.

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