This is courtesy USA Today, so take it with the football-sized grain of salt. But…
"People familiar with the situation" — yes, those same people ratting out Brangelina and Octomom on a weekly basis — are insisting that Apple and Verizon are discussing a "Big Bell" version of the iPhone, maybe as soon as 2010, and were doing so with Steve Jobs himself before Uncle Steve took medical leave. Vodaphone — Verizon Wireless' co-owner — already offers iPhones in Europe, but they run on the same GSM network as the AT&T flavor. (And Apple COO Tim Cook has already turned his nose up at Verizon's CDMA network as a technological dead end.)
Over at Neilsen's telecom research division, chief opinion-taker Roger Entner weighed the pros and cons of an Apple/Verizon pairing. The consensus? AT&T would certainly take a hit in iPhone dominence if the smartphone was no longer their exclusive property. On the other hand, Apple would suddenly have access to 80 million Verizon subscribers — as well as a 3G network that, while perhaps not as fast as the Death Star's, is considered much more reliable. Most importantly, consumers could get the phone they want AND the network they want.
[Via USA Today]