Rumors and Whispers: A timeline of how the Apple iPhone finally made it to Verizon
On July 2nd, 2007, we told you that more than half a million units were sold during the first weekend of the Apple iPhone's launch and the cellular industry was never the same. The first mention of a Verizon iPhone variant on phoneArena came on September 28th, 2008 when a story noted speculation that a Verizon iPhone could be announced during MacWorld 2009 for launch later in the year. Of course, nothing came from that rumor, but on April 17 2009, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg made the first correct statement in this series by stating that the chance of Verizon getting the iPhone would increase with the "advent of 4G". But the accuracy of that comment is negated by the fact that the Executive was talking about a Verizon model of Apple's touchscreen device using Big Red's LTE. The CEO also said that Apple never intended to make a CDMA version of the iPhone.
reported on a story that Verizon and Apple had been discussing releasing an iPhone in early 2010. This rumor came just 2 weeks after Verizon CEO Seidenberg had seemingly eliminated the chance of a CDMA model of the handset. June 24th, 2009, saw a story about Ivan Seidenberg's appearance on the late night Charlie Rose show. During the interview, the executive says that a Verizon branded Apple iPhone is up to Apple, a comment he repeated on October 29th. Less than a month later, on July 15th, analyst Walter Piecyk predicts slower growth for AT&T if the carrier loses its exclusivity for the iPhone. The analyst explains that, " A basic premise of our recently initiated buy rating on Verizon and sell rating on AT&T is our belief that as the iPhone exclusivity period rolls off between AT&T Wireless and Apple, a material number of AT&T customers will flock to Verizon’s superior network." Ironically, on September 11th, reports surface that AT&T and Apple will extend the length of the carrier's exclusive rights to sell the Apple iPhone in the U.S.
On the verge of the launch of the Motorola DROID, Verizon starts its "There's a map for that" ad campaign which eventually compares the iPhone to a toy. In the same month, Verizon begins its "iDon't DROID DOES spots aimed at comparing Apple's phone with the carrier's first Android phone; the spot and the phone are a hit and the Motorola DROID starts off Androidmania taking pressure off Verizon to score the Apple iPhone. Still, a story appeared that said that Verizon was testing the Apple device on Big Red's LTE network. Another false rumor made the rounds on November 12th, 2009, when OTR Global wrote that a Verizon iPhone would be launched in Q3 2010. This model would have a 2.8 inch screen and the announcement was allegedly delayed by Verizon to prevent Motorola DROID sales from coming to a halt. December 10th saw a story about analyst Gene Munster who said that there was a 70% chance of a Verizon iPhone hitting the market in 2010. Let's hope no one put money down on those odds.
a story broke that according to Oppenheimer analyst Tim Horan, T-Mobile would actually be the next carrier to sell the Apple iPhone in the Summer while Verizon and Sprint would get a CDMA model to sell in the fall. Horan noted, "We believe AT&T's iPhone exclusivity arrangement with Apple will be expiring by mid-2010. For wireless carriers, customers are demanding the device and they need to remain competitive."
Sometimes confusing the situation, a highly regarded source would be at the center of a false story. March 29, 2010, the Wall Street Journal wrote that Apple was producing two new models of the iPhone. One would be a successor to the iPhone 3GS while the other would be a CDMA model for Verizon. A story that the Apple iPhone would be delayed until 2011 for Verizon was published on May 11th of last year. While the timing of the story seems right, the report centered on a 3G/4G hybrid model of the phone, which of course was incorrect.
June of 2010 saw the rumor mill heating up. On June 5th a Verizon spokesman said that the "iPhone was not in Verizon's immediate futrure". June 17th: "Pegatron said to manufacture a CDMA iPhone 4". On June 23rd, two Wall Street analysts made predictions. Right on the money was Ben Reitzes of Barclays Capital who predicted a Q1 2011 Verizon iPhone as did Scott Craig of Bank of America/Merrill Lynch. One of the more prescient analysts was John Hodulik of UBS. In a story carried by Bloomberg, the analyst called for a January release of a Verizon branded version of Apple's device. While the actual launch won't be until February 10th, it was still a very good call by Hodulik.
reported that Qualcomm had been producing millions of CDMA chips for a new variant of the iPhone on August 8th. Shaw Wu made news on August 23rd when the Kaufman Brothers analyst said that Apple and Verizon were ironing out details on whether the pair would offer a CDMA model of the iPhone for 2011 or an LTE model for 2012. On September 24th, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg shook things up by saying that he hoped that Verizon's 4G rollout would "earn" the carrier the iPhone.
On October 7th, the Wall Street Journal reported anonymous sources as saying that a Verizon branded iPhone would be launched in the first quarter of 2011. Based on the accuracy of that story, we should add that the same WSJ report mentioned that the Apple iPhone 5 would have a different form factor than seen with the current model. On October 13th, the WSJ said that Verizon was talking to Apple and adding capacity to its network in preparation for the surge in usage following the launch of a Verizon iPhone. The story was attributed to "people familiar with the matter". Electrifying was the story on October 22nd which showed pictures of what allegedly was the CDMA version of Apple's device being tested in Vietnam. On December 14th, we told you about a rumor that the Verizon variant of the iPhone would be announced right after Christmas. The story was wrong as the model was said to be an LTE flavored phone.
The Street's Scott Moritz hit the nail on the head with a December 20th story of a mid-February launch of the Apple iPhone on Verizon (see video below). He also correctly said that the model would be a CDMA-only handset. Another extremely accurate forecast was passed along by Bloomberg Business Week and quoted an Apple insider who said that the Verizon iPhone would be introduced right after CES (100% correct). And on January 1st, we showed you pictures of a case for the Verizon iPhone 4 being sold by an online retailer.
Everything was falling into place as the Wall Street Journal commented that Verizon had handed out invitations to an event in New York City for January 11th. At this point, the cat was definitely out of the bag and the paper said that the event would be to introduce the Verizon iPhone. And today, rumor became fact.
While we couldn't include every bit of speculation, we hope that this trip down memory lane brought back some fun memories. Verizon's Ivan Seidenberg said today, "if the press writes about something for long enough and hard enough, eventually it comes true." In the case of the Verizon iPhone, that was certainly true.