Will we finally see a Verizon iPhone in 2011? Almost definitely. But with Android coming on strong, does it matter as much? Apple's about to find out.
Apple will introduce an iPhone powered by the Verizon network "sometime after the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January." That's according to Bloomberg Businessweek, citing "a person familiar with Apple's plans."
Although we've heard countless similar reports and rumors in the past, there's mounting evidence that 2011 will be the year iPhone customers finally get a carrier option other than AT&T.
For starters, the Businessweek story comes on the heels of a DigiTimes report indicating Apple plans to ship 5 million to 6 million CDMA iPhones in the first quarter of 2011. Verizon's network runs on CDMA; AT&T's doesn't.
Since when is Apple even manufacturing CDMA iPhones? Back in October, The Wall Street Journal reported that mass production would begin by the end of the year.
That squares with Businessweek's suggestion that "very soon, maybe by Valentine's Day," Apple will announce a Verizon iPhone. (Interestingly, Mobile World Congress begins on Valentine's Day. Apple wouldn't unveil the device there, but it might try to do some serious upstaging.)
Perhaps the strongest evidence is this: For the first time, Apple is facing serious competition in the smartphone marketplace. Suddenly, it seems Android is everywhere. In August, Android handsets outsold iPhones, bolstered no doubt by flashy models like the Droid Incredible, HTC Evo 4G, and Samsung Epic.
Android is also challenging Apple on the price front, as evidenced by models like the Virgin Mobile Samsung Intercept, which offers plans starting at $25 per month--including unlimited data. I don't think Verizon will compete on price, but the reality is that customers can now get iPhone-level functionality with a considerably lower monthly bill.
Finally, ask any AT&T iPhone customer what they think of the carrier, and you're likely to get an earful. Earlier this month, Consumer Reports called AT&T "the worst carrier," citing a customer-satisfaction survey of 58,000 readers.
Will there be a Verizon iPhone in 2011? I'd put the odds at 98 percent. This move is overdue, and Apple knows it.
If and when it happens, will you buy in? Or did you get tired of waiting and opt for an Android model?