Today Apple and Verizon have announced an agreement to sell iPads at over 2,000 Verizon stores across the US. At first, this may seem like exciting news, and some may even see it as a clue that Apple and Verizon will soon be partnering up to release the the CDMA iPhone, which we’ve been hearing so much about over these past few months (Like here, here and here. And there are plenty more such rumors where that came from.) However, that may not necessarily be the case. For simplicity’s sake, let’s break this down a bit.
The “Verizon iPad” isn’t exactly a Verizon iPad
This iPad is simply an iPad wifi model with a mifi hotspot bundled. What you are really being sold is an iPad and a portable wifi hotspot with data. The costs are not being subsidized; they are simply selling you all this stuff and their data plans. This turns out to be more of a workaround than a solution to a Verizon-enabled iPad. Note that they are also selling the iPads individually, but they are still wifi-only.
This means that Apple isn’t changing the hardware
This is an indication that Apple isn’t building an iPad with a CDMA chip, which is the technology that Verizon’s network uses. Simply put, they aren’t going to start rolling out same-generation iPads with three different chips in order to release devices on individual networks such as CDMA iPhones and GPRS iPhones. This would mean that the company would have to track inventory for several devices that are essentially the same thing across multiple carriers. Based on history, it’s just not how Apple works–just look at their computers.
What can we count on?
This does not mean that Apple will completely rule out Verizon as an iPhone/iPad carrier, it just means that they will probably hold off for a device that can be supported across various carriers. We heard a bit about this in the past with rumors that Qualcomm may be creating the chips for the next iPhone, this because they manufacture GSM/CDMA chips, which would a single device to span across multiple carriers.
Furthermore, the deal that was announced today is an indication that these companies can agree on some terms. They were able to come to an agreement that would allow Apple’s popular tablet computer to be sold through Verizon, opening doors for further negotiations.
So will we see the Verizon iPhone or not?
Yes, but not in the way we were all expecting. The most likely scenario is that Apple will do their yearly iPhone announcement, and it will be the iPhone 4G, (or whatever Apple decides to call it next time around) and it will be available across a range of carriers no longer exclusive to AT&T.
People are waiting for the iPhone to reach more carriers. We may hear an announcement from Apple that is meant solely to keep Android at bay and convince users to hold off until the iPhone becomes more widely available. Still, we know that Apple won’t be splitting their product line for one carrier.