Verizon iPhone: Don't Believe the Hype

So when I woke up this morning, I had this waiting for me in TweetDeck:

@adamreisinger a little birdie told me the Iphone is coming to Verizon. :)Sat Jul 03 09:21:52 via web

My guess is that Tunesha is referring to this week's Bloomberg report that Verizon is going to begin offering the iPhone in January. I read that report too, and while it sure seemed believeable, I refuse to get excited about a Verizon iPhone until both Apple and Verizon actually announce the product.

You have to understand the history of this rumor, which literally dates to the original announcement of the iPhone back in 2007. Back then, USA Today reported that Verizon was approached by Apple about offering the iPhone, but turned it down because it didn't like Apple's terms. Eventually, that decision is going to be taught in business schools as an example of what NOT to do (it's also worth noting that it's entirely possible that Verizon PERMANENTLY burned that bridge with Apple back then, and if the iPhone does eventually end up on other U.S. carriers, it could be T-Mobile or Sprint before it's Verizon, but that's an unlikely scenario).

Because of the public knowledge about AT&T's exclusivity deal with Apple on the iPhone, the rumor mill was pretty quiet for the next couple years, but starting in 2009, Verizon iPhone rumors have run rampant.

Sept. 28, 2008 - reports that the iPhone will be headed to Verizon in 2009, possibly as early as MacWorld San Francisco (held in early January). Of course, that ignores this USA Today report that the exclusivity deal between Apple and AT&T was extended into 2010.

April 16, 2009 - The Wall Street Journal reports on Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg's comments that the iPhone is likely to come to Verizon in 2010, when Verizon rolls out its 4G network.

Oct. 29, 2009 - Seidenberg says the decision on the Verizon iPhone is in Apple's court. Apple continues to be too busy counting its piles and piles of money to respond.

Nov. 6, 2009 - OTR Global cites sources in the Taiwanese manufacturing chains that say the Verizon-compatible iPhone (remember, because of network differences, Verizon requires a different iPhone handset than the one that's currently being used) will be released in Q3 2010.

Nov. 22, 2009 - Fortune reports that AT&T's iPhone exclusivity expires in June 2010. Which, ya know, would have meant this week. Did you buy your Verizon iPhone on Thursday? No? Really?

January 6, 2010 - An analyst claims Qualcomm is developing a 3G chip for a Verizon-compatible iPhone. Of course, this same analyst also claimed that Apple was preparing a Verizon tablet for release in late 2009. I know I use my vPad every day... in opposite land.

April 6, 2010 - Seidenberg says that he has told Apple that Verizon wants to carry the iPhone. This coming about 5 months after he said the ball was in Apple's court. If both these stories are true, then does it really sound like Apple is desperate to offer a Verizon phone? Or does it sound more like Apple's still sticking it to Verizon for the rejection back in 2007?

May 11, 2010 - Now there's a report of an ad agency working on a campaign for the Verizon iPhone. Four weeks later, Apple announced the iPhone 4, now available on AT&T and Verizon.  Oooh, no. Still not Verizon. But I bet that ad campaign is SWEET!

May 12, 2010 - Digitimes reports they've identified the manufacturer of the Verizon iPhone. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that the new iPhone will come out in the summer (not exactly a scoop, since a new iPhone has been released every summer since 2007) and the Verizon iPhone will begin manufacturing in September (we'll see...).

May 28, 2010 -, Jon Stewart's favorite financial web site, says Apple has bumped up its production plans and will have a Verizon iPhone ready for holiday release.

June 29, 2010 - Bloomberg strikes again! Well, now the exclusivity ends after this year, not in June, and the Verizon iPhone is coming in January 2011, not in time for the holiday season.

So we've gone from 2009 to early 2010 to Q3 2010 to now January 2011. And all those old reports weren't good, but THIS one is! We swear!

Look, is it possible that this latest Bloomberg report is right, and that the iPhone will be available on multiple U.S. carriers starting in January? Sure. It's also possible that the Cavaliers will trade for Chris Bosh and Chris Paul and re-sign LeBron James (something that's also been reported in recent days). Of course it's also possible that none of those things will happen.

If I had to make a long-term bet, I'd bet that the iPhone will come to Verizon SOME DAY, but I wouldn't even feel particularly strong about that bet (remember, Steve Jobs is the kind of guy who holds a grudge, and as long as Apple keeps breaking sales records with the AT&T iPhone, there's not a huge incentive to open it up to other domestic carriers). But I'd never bet on it coming "soon", much less setting a specific date on it.