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Verizon iPhone Rumors Resurface with New Details

The Wall Street Journal predicted a Verizon iPhone back in March. Bloomberg reaffirmed it in June, news of a Verizon tower on Apple’s campus perked up eyebrows in July, and iLounge reiterated the rumors of a new iPhone in January just last week. Now, TechCrunch claims Apple has pulled the lever and set production in motion.

According to an anonymous source cited by the site, “Apple has submitted orders for millions of units of Qualcomm CDMA chipsets for a Verizon iPhone run due in December.” This story closely coordinates with previous reports suggesting production on a Verizon iPhone would ramp up in late 2010 for an early 2011 launch – probably of a model identical to the current version, but built for CDMA networks.

In the past, supply-chain rumors have generally proven hit or miss – for instance, Apple competitors claimed they were unable to secure 10-inch LCDs in the run up to the iPad launch because Apple had ordered them all, which turned out to be true, but they also claimed Apple was snapping up 10-inch OLED panels. In 2008, supply chain rumors suggested a new, cheaper MacBook that came to fruition in October, but also suggested an “iPhone Nano” that never saw the light of day.

Further incensing rumor mongers is the language in AT&T’s latest 10q filing with the SEC, which seems to foretell of a “Plan B” when certain exclusivity agreements draw to a close:

… offering a number of attractive handsets on an exclusive basis distinguishes us from our competitors. As these exclusivity arrangements end, we expect to continue to offer such handsets (based on historical industry practice), and we believe our service plan offerings will help to retain our customers by providing incentives not to move to a new carrier.

…Although exclusivity arrangements are important to us, such arrangements may not provide a competitive advantage over time, as the industry continues to introduce new devices and services. Also, while the expiration of any of our current exclusivity arrangements could increase churn and reduce postpaid customer additions, we do not expect any such terminations to have a material negative impact on our Wireless segment income, consolidated operating margin or our cash from operations.

Considering AT&T’s heavy reliance on the iPhone to drive subscriptions – and its straight-from-the-horse’s-mouth source, this might be the best evidence yet of an impending end to AT&T’s iPhone exclusivity.

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Nick Mokey
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