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Analyst: Verizon is the iPhone's next big feature

Heading into 2010, financial analyst Gene Munster believes Apple will add Verizon to its list of U.S. carriers, ending the exclusive deal with AT&T.

There are many things driving the popularity and growth of the Apple's iPhone, but as we enter 2010, one analyst believes the addition of Verizon will be the iPhone's big new feature.


Gene Munster, senior research analyst for investment bank Piper Jaffray, said in a research note to clients 0Wednesday that he believes there is a 70 percent chance that Apple will launch a new iPhone with Verizon in 2010. Munster puts the timing of such a move around the middle of the year.

That makes sense, since Apple has used June and July to launch all three of its iPhone models. The company also used the summer months to debut the App Store in 2008. It seems reasonable to speculate that Apple would continue with its schedule of introducing a new iPhone in mid-2010.

Munster said a move to Verizon would more than double Apple's current potential market by 89 million subscribers, adding to the already 82 million available on AT&T.

Of course, at this point the big problem is Apple's arrangement with AT&T as its exclusive carrier in the U.S. That deal is widely thought to end in 2010, although talks between the two companies are said to be ongoing, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The analyst's report also cites the iPhone's apps as playing a major role in the future growth of the device.

"We have seen a shift in the reason why consumers buy an iPhone. Initially, it was the touch screen and easy access to the Internet" said Munster. "Today, apps are cited as one of the top three reasons consumers buy an iPhone."