Can You “vPhone” Me Now? Good!

Maybe the Apple/AT&T marriage isn’t as monogamous as we were led to believe…

Whispers out of Cupertino suggest that Apple will announce a Verizon-compatible iPhone as early as 2009, and may even "pop the question" at next year’s MacWorld.  There have already been online job postings at Apple looking for EVDO and CDMA engineers.  The iPhone also won’t be a Blackberry killer if it sticks to one carrier (AT&T) while ignoring the (often superior) coverage and reliability offered by Verizon and even Sprint — especially after AT&T’s iPhone sales inevitably plateau.  Factor in markets like Hong Kong and South Africa, where "open" iPhones are already available — meaning, at the very least, an increased supply of unlocked phones to "cross over" to other systems.

Interestingly, AT&T wasn’t even the House of Jobs’ first choice for carrier — Verizon was!

According to Verizon, Apple CEO Steve Jobs insisted that he have hard control over iPhone distribution.

problem? While Apple and Verizon stores would have it, Wal-Mart, Best
Buy and other Verizon distributors could have been left out. "That
would have put our own distribution partners at a disadvantage" to
Apple and Verizon stores, Gerace said.

care was another hitch: If an iPhone went haywire, Apple wanted sole
discretion over whether to replace or repair the phone. "They would
have been stepping in between us and our customers to the point where
we would have almost had to take a back seat … on hardware and service
support," Gerace says.

Even more interesting, the "AT&T exclusivity" story may be nothing more than a USA TODAY rumor; there’s been no official public disclosure as to how long the two Big A’s are supposed to remain faithful to one another.  All we know is that, as of the original iPhone announcement at Macworld 2007, Cingular’s CEO Stan
Sigmund indicated that Apple and Cingular had signed a "multi-year
deal."  And "multi" could be as small as "two…"

[Via 9to5Mac]

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