I can't tell you why the Wall Street Journal is so obsessed with reporting on these Verizon iPhone rumors, especially with the plethora of unnamed sources, but they've gone and published the story. "Apple Making Verizon-Ready iPhone By Year End." Oh, no. Really? I don't think so.

Dave Courbanou

October 8, 2010

6 Min Read
Verizon iPhone: Is The Wall Street Journal Wrong?

I can’t tell you why the Wall Street Journal is so obsessed with reporting on these Verizon iPhone rumors, especially with the plethora of unnamed sources, but they’ve gone and published the story. “Apple Making Verizon-Ready iPhone By Year End.” Oh, no. Really? I don’t think so.

You can read the updated and appended story here, with all their ‘sourced’ details. But I think it’s still a lot of ‘maybes’ and ‘potentials’ and not such a sure-thing to run with that headline. Let me break down their assertions and tell you what I really think:

First off, the WSJ cites “people familiar with the matter” as their sources. Seriously. I’m not convinced. Here’s why. Even people ‘familiar’ with the iPad only got bits and pieces of the story right. Apple’s level of secrecy in everything they do leaves a lot to the imagination and little to concretely report on.

Put this in perspective: The iPhone 4 leak happened relatively close to the actual launch, only because of an accident. Not because people actively spread rumors and details about it. Even those who had the device and information weren’t willing to give it up for free.

Regardless, the WSJ continues to report that “these people” (their words) claim Apple will be producing the phones at the end of 2010 for a Q1 2011 launch.

The WSJ hinges these statements on the assumption that “Apple is facing increasing pressure to find new avenue of growth in the US market, as most AT&T customers who wanted the iPhone have now bought them.” This is complete and utter bunk. First off, Apple’s yearly production of a new iPhone shows that customers are willing to buy bigger, better and newer versions of their existing devices, without question, even when Consumer Reports can’t recommend the product. What’s more, Apple has never been the type of company that actively goes out of their way to plough through a certain avenue of technology. They wait, they do it their way, and then create their own avenue, vis-à-vis the iPad.

The WSJ continues to assert that the boom in Android phones is putting pressure on Apple, too. Simply, no. Apple’s goal isn’t to be the #1 selling phone, they’re goal is to have the best phone they sell. It’s not a race for Apple, and it never has been.

What’s more, “people briefed on the phone” claim that Apple is developing a new iPhone model that’s different than the existing phone. Okay, maybe. Apple might be looking for a refresh for the 2011 iPhone, but even the WSJ admitted this information was unrelated to whether the phone would be on Verizon.

As far as official comments? Apple has none. No surprise. Verizon’s President said gave a half-hearted  “At some point [Apple and] our business interests are going to align…I fully expect it, but I don’t have anything to say.” AT&T had no comment on losing exclusivity, but offered that their network supports web and talk at the same time, as something to consider if people switch.

What’s more, even if Apple is developing CDMA phones, that doesn’t mean it’ll be a “Verizon iPhone.” Let’s remember that Sprint/Nextel, along with various other world carriers also use CDMA. The WSJ says that Pegatron Technology is making the CDMA chip for the rumored phone, but Pegatron also declined to comment.

In fact, so many people in the WSJ’s article declined to comment, it makes me wonder who “these people” they interviewed were in the first place. Either this is the biggest leak and conspiracy of the consumer electronic world, or everyone is smart enough not to stir the pot on rampant rumors.

The WSJ continues to chat about how Verizon and Apple had issues over leaving Verizon’s V-CAST multimedia and app store off the alleged phone (could be likely), along with hints that Apple was considering a dual-mode phone for GSM and CDMA at the same time. Apparently Qualcomm provided this chip, but Qualcomm, unsurprisingly, declined to comment.

Here’s what may or may not happen, if there is a Verizon iPhone. Apple may introduce the device in Q1 2011, when they do their traditional January announcements. That doesn’t mean it’ll be immediately available. It also doesn’t mean it’ll be a new phone. Apple must have good cause for blitzing their own yearly phone development cycle, and I don’t think Apple is chomping at the bit.

Here’s another reason Apple wouldn’t want a Verizon iPhone; it’s the voice and data issue. Apple produced their own TV spot, touting the dual features, and technically, a Verizon iPhone would be an inferior product. It’s unlike Apple to offer a ‘downgrade’, though I could see them making an exception if they thought it was worth it.

Apple also a history of developing things that won’t come to fruition at one point or another. In 2009 there was an iPod touch leaked onto e-Bay with a camera on it, along with a MacBook Air featuring a black carbon fiber bottom. Both prototypes. Both not ready for prime-time or failures all together. My point? Even if Apple contracted Pegatron to develop a chip, it doesn’t mean that Apple is mass producing them for Verizon. They could be testing the waters, not even necessarily on Verizon’s network. Maybe it’s China’s Unicom, which runs both GSM and CDMA.

Even more important: CDMA is dying. Even Verizon is eventually phasing it out for the their LTE 4G technology which is a similar technology to GSM (e.g. SIM cards, voice and data simultaneously.) Apple, maybe, would release an iPhone 5 that operated on both Verizon’s new LTE network and was compatible for AT&T’s eventual upgrade as well. But even that’s baseless speculation.

Lastly, Apple is not afraid of Google, Android, or Microsoft. Apple has stood their ground. They are not a ‘me-too’ company like Microsoft. They will not look to chase anyone in any race. The corporate mentality they have is about producing a product that does what it’s supposed to, superbly well, and the product will sell and stand on its own merits. That’s why Apple products sell, despite the ‘premium’ attached to them.

All things being said, I’d love to be wrong. I’d love my Verizon friends to have access to the best phone I’ve ever owned, but I don’t think it’s happening. And I think it’s irresponsible for the WSJ to take this story and run with it.

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