Verizon Wireless is negotiating to offer two new Apple devices, one of which could be available as soon as this summer, Business Week is reporting.
The first is a smaller, less expensive version of the iPhone - perhaps the "junior iPhone" first described by Kaufman Brothers analyst Shaw Wu, on April 8.
The second device is a media pad - something larger than a phone but smaller than a netbook, and somewhat resembling the Amazon Kindle - for watching videos, listening to music and placing VOIP (voice over IP) calls.
The move to Verizon - the largest carrier in the United States, and so a coup for Apple - would be a hit for AT&T, which has been said to be angling to extend its exclusive contract with Apple. AT&T's relationship with Apple was what enabled the carrier to post a 13 percent increase in wireless profits for the first quarter of 2009.
Verizon originally passed up the opportunity to offer the iPhone, after it was unable to agree with Apple on the terms of splitting revenue and data fees.
Additionally, Verizon has its own applications store, but Apple has so far negotiated to be the sole provider of wireless applications for the iPhone - an excellent move, clearly, as the Apple App Store recently offered its one-billionth download.
Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, isn't expecting an iPhone from Verizon anytime soon.
"I think it's unlikely at this point, though it's likely that in the future Apple and Verizon are going to provide what the market wants," Gottheil told eWEEK.
"The CDMA technology isn't something Apple needs to address in the near term. Though Apple's growth, and the growth of the iPhone in the U.S., are definitely constrained by [Apple's] failure to support one of the largest wireless providers."
Gottheil's comments suggest the media pad is the better bet, should the reported talks come to fruition.
"The media book is definitely more likely," said Gottheil. "It would have to use Verizon's current 3G network, and Verizon is working on implementing a 4G network. But it's possible [they could roll it out] with an eye toward upgrading to 4G later."
"Apple is a very aggressive negotiator, and it uses the public to help it," Gottheil added. "There are certainly interests at [the highest levels of] Verizon and Apple to create things together."