Apple will host an event for the Verizon iPhone “very soon,” according to a new report by Bloomberg Businessweek, adding to the steady drum-roll that the smartphone’s break from exclusive U.S. carrier AT&T is imminent.
“Apple’s introduction of an iPhone for use on Verizon’s network will come sometime after the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January,” read the Dec. 29 report, citing “a person familiar with Apple’s plans who is not authorized to discuss them publicly.” The piece also suggests that Apple will unveil the device with an appropriately “splashy” product introduction.
The Bloomberg report adds to the chorus of media and analysts predicting a Verizon iPhone sometime in early 2011. An October report in The Wall Street Journal, quoting people “briefed by Apple,” suggested that the company had slated a late-2010 production start for iPhones capable of running on Verizon’s CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) network. Before that, sources told the blog TechCrunch in August that Apple had ordered millions of Qualcomm CDMA chipsets for the upcoming smartphone.
Both Fortune and The New York Times have also cited unnamed sources in support of the Verizon-iPhone-by-early-2011 story line. Meanwhile, prominent analysts such as Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster have begun incorporating the device on its new carrier into their predictive models for next year. Over the summer, Barclays Capital analyst James Ratcliffe suggested that a Verizon iPhone would compel between 500,000 and 1 million AT&T customers to switch networks.
Apple’s current smartphone model, the iPhone 4, sold 1.7 million units within the first few days of its launch in June, and maintained a heightened sales profile despite some controversy over its exterior antenna rim’s ability to hold a signal when held by bare skin. Thanks to mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad, the company’s fourth quarter was marked by strong revenues of $20.34 billion and a net quarterly profit of $4.31 billion.
In addition to the possibility of a Verizon iPhone, media and analysts have focused on rumors of Apple preparing a second-generation iPad for unveiling in early 2011. Those rumors have focused on the device’s supposed addition of front- and rear-facing cameras for videoconferencing, a higher-resolution screen, and possibly a slimmer and lighter form factor.
Both the iPhone and iPad find themselves locked in competition with a growing number of Android-based devices, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet and the Motorola Droid X smartphone. Added carriers and newer hardware, of course, will allow Apple to maintain its sales momentum in the face of these challenges.