Apple said to be working on 'world mode' iPhone

The AppleInsider blog says it's gotten wind of a "hybrid iPhone," due in the third quarter of 2010, that would work on both GSM and CDMA (hear that, Verizon?).

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Jon Skillings is an editorial director at CNET, where he's worked since 2000. A born browser of dictionaries, he honed his language skills as a US Army linguist (Polish and German) before diving into editing for tech publications -- including at PC Week and the IDG News Service -- back when the web was just getting under way, and even a little before. For CNET, he's written on topics from GPS, AI and 5G to James Bond, aircraft, astronauts, brass instruments and music streaming services.
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Jon Skillings
2 min read

The new Verizon Droid, like many a high-profile smartphone just coming onto the market, has been hailed by some as a potential--you know what's coming--iPhone killer. (Chronicling the very first Droid sales in Manhattan the other day, CNET's Maggie Reardon observed that the gadget may actually turn out to be more of a BlackBerry killer.)

But does Verizon Wireless want to deliver a knockout to the iPhone? There's long been speculation that the carrier would sooner or later be offering the Apple smartphone, which since its launch has been solely in the hands of AT&T in the United States. (In some other countries, Apple has deals with multiple carriers.)

The latest posting to suggest an imminent rapprochement between Verizon and the iPhone comes from the AppleInsider blog, which on Friday said that it's gotten wind of Apple having contracted to build a Verizon iPhone that would debut in the third quarter of 2010.

More broadly, according to AppleInsider, the new "hybrid iPhone" will work on both the GSM/UMTS and the CDMA systems, meaning that Apple will be able "to sell a single global handset to all carriers, and specifically to Verizon Wireless in the US." In the U.S., carriers AT&T and T-Mobile are in the GSM/UMTS camp, while Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel are in the CDMA camp. (For more on that topic, see "Going abroad? Don't be afraid to pack the cell phone.")

The "world mode" phone reportedly would have a 2.8-inch screen--that is, roughly 20 percent smaller than the screen on the existing iPhone.

AppleInsider cites a report from the investment research firm OTR Global, which in turn cites "sources in the Taiwan handset supply chain." According to AppleInsider:

The report by OTR Global, provided to AppleInsider by an industry analyst, says the new "world mode" iPhone will gain compatibility with CDMA2000 networks (including Verizon's US network, which is currently incompatible with existing iPhone models) while retaining compatibility with UMTS 3G networks globally using a new hybrid chip produced by Qualcomm.

According to OTR's sources, Asustek subsidiary Pegatron will build the new hybrid phone devices for Apple rather than Hon Hai, the iPhone's current manufacturer. This decision was reportedly made to prevent the company from being "constrained by a single-source assembler."

In the third quarter of 2009, Apple shipped 7.4 million iPhones worldwide, raising its global market share slightly to 17 percent, according to market researcher IDC.

Apple, Verizon, and OTR were not immediately available for comment.

See also:
Inside the Motorola Droid, an iPhone likeness
Slow start for the Motorola Droid?
Survey shows iPhone threatens BlackBerry; Palm holds steady