Apple’s CDMA-based iPhone for Verizon’s cell network won’t be introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show at the beginning of January, despite what rumors claim, according to BusinessWeek. Instead, it will appear sometime after, although an unnamed source with insider information about Apple’s plans couldn’t say exactly when the new iPhone model would launch.
Apple’s current iPhone models only support GSM-based cell networks, like AT&T and Orange, which means they can’t be used on networks that rely on CDMA wireless technology like Verizon. That limitation has been a point of frustration for many U.S. cell customers that want an iPhone, but aren’t interested in relying on AT&T’s service.
Rumors have been circulating for some time that Apple is working on a CDMA-compatible version of the iPhone, and several alleged launch dates have already come and gone. Current rumors claim Apple will host a media event near Valentine’s day in February to introduce the Verizon-compatible iPhone.
Supply chain sources in Taiwan claim Apple has been ordering parts for CDMA iPhones with plans for a launch early in 2011. Assuming the rumors are correct, AT&T’s exclusive carrier agreement with Apple will soon come to an end.
Ending AT&T’s exclusive iPhone deal would give consumers at least one more carrier choice when buying their combination iPod and smartphone. The change would also means some AT&T customers would switch to Verizon for their iPhone service even though change would require buying a new handset.
The number of subscribers that would leave AT&T, however, may not be significant. “I’m sure some AT&T customers are sufficiently frustrated to switch,” commented Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin. “But the vast majority are at least happy enough.”
Sticking with its usual policy of not commenting on rumor and speculation, Apple hasn’t confirmed or denied it is building CDMA iPhones.