For the past 3 and a half years, AT&T has enjoyed a monopoly on iPhone sales in the United States. Indeed, the US remains the only country in the world where a single carrier enjoys iPhone exclusivity. But all that’s poised to change in 2011 when Verizon, the nation’s largest carrier, will start selling the iPhone on it’s network.
The stream of rumors and reports hinting and all but confirming the existence and impending arrival of a Verizon iPhone has already been documented to death. Suffice it to say that it will happen sometime during the first half of 2011.
There had been some rumblings over the past few days that a Verizon/iPhone announcement would come next week at CES. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, there’s a Verizon CEO keynote speech scheduled for January 6, the first day of the conference.
But if you know anything about Apple, allowing another company to be the bearer of such a momentous announcement just isn’t Apple’s style. Apple likes to pull the strings, and the control Apple exerts over its products undoubtedly seeps into how those products are first revealed to the public.
And now comes word via Bloomberg that Apple will announce a Verizon iPhone sometime soon, and perhaps by Valentine’s Day, but certainly after CES concludes on January 11. Apple isn’t keen on sharing the spotlight unless it has a huge Ace up its sleeve, like when they unveiled the original iPhone in 2007 and literally stole all of the attention and spotlight away from that year’s CES event.
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, according to a person familiar with Apple’s plans who is not authorized to discuss them publicly. Estimates from industry analysts of the resulting number of defections to Verizon from AT&T range from 1 million to 6 million. John Hodulik, an analyst at UBS Securities, comes in somewhere in the middle. He predicts that AT&T will sell 8.8 million iPhones in 2011, down from 15.6 million in 2010. Of the 13.3 million Hodulik expects Verizon to sell in 2011, about 2.3 million will be to AT&T refugees, he predicts. An additional 10 million will be current Verizon subscribers who upgrade from other devices, and the rest will come from other carriers.
Despite all the rumors surrounding a CDMA iPhone, there have been little to no rumors regarding the iPhone hitting other CDMA carriers in the US like Sprint and T-Mobile. Interestingly, one rumor that made the rounds a few weeks ago stated that Verizon demanded during their negotiations with Apple that they be the exclusive CMDA iPhone provider in the US. And seeing as how Apple had no problem taking up camp with AT&T for 3.5 years, it’s safe to say that bending to Verizon’s demand was perfectly acceptable for Apple in exchange for concessions from Verizon (i.e healthy subsidies, no Verizon branding on the iPhone etc.)