WSJ: CDMA iPhone coming to Verizon Wireless

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Apple iPhone is going to Verizon Wireless.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “people familiar with the matter” indicate that Apple is making a version of its iconic iPhone based on CDMA technology that will be available for sale from Verizon Wireless early in 2011. If true, the move would mark the end of AT&T’s days has the iPhone’s exclusive carrier in the United States; it would also mark the first time Apple has created a version of the iPhone based on CDMA technology, although Apple has made a W-CDMA iPhone for China Unicom.

However, the Wall Street Journal’s treatment of their story is interesting: the initial version of the report maintained that Apple was indeed working on a CDMA version of the iPhone—a development effort that has been widely reported since August, although it has never been confirmed by Apple. After publishing the initial report, the paper revised the story to specify that Apple is working on a CDMA version of the iPhone that will explicitly be for sale on Verizon Wireless in early 2011. The initial report did not assert the CDMA iPhone was destined for Verizon.

Neither Verizon Wireless nor Apple have publicly commented on the story, and the report seems to fly in the face of recent remarks from Verizon’s CEO that the iPhone wouldn’t be headed to Verizon Wireless anytime soon.

Of course, rumors that the Apple iPhone might become available on Verizon Wireless have been swirling for years—and if it weren’t for the Wall Street Journal’s name on this story, the report would have no more credibility than any of the other reports and claims that surface regularly. The persistent interest in the iPhone on Verizon is an indication of many iPhone customer’s frustration with AT&T: since the launch of the initial iPhone in 2007, AT&T has struggled to provide customers with reliable reception and data services, particularly in heavily populated urban markets like San Francisco and New York. AT&T has worked to expand its network access and capacity, but many customers remain dissatisfied. Verizon Wireless, conversely, operates the largest and arguably most accessible wireless service in the United States.

Some industry reports—including the Wall Street Journal story—have identified Verizon’s V Cast digital content services and retailing policies as primary sticking points between Apple and Verizon: some reports have Verizon insistent that it would be able to sell its V Cast service and content (music, videos, television shows, etc.) on the iPhone; Apple, reportedly, was unhappy that Verizon wanted to be able to offer the iPhone through its retail partners, rather than only from Verizon Wireless’s own retail channels.

Get our Top Stories delivered to your inbox: