There have been new rumblings bubbling to the surface in the ever-threatening sea of Verizon iPhone 4 rumors. Several new facts and finds are pointing the way towards an iPhone on the “other” major carrier in the US after a three year wait. I for one think that it’s very much time for Apple to expand their market to the millions of Verizon customers that would ditch their Android devices given the chance and it’s looking like that chance could come soon.
We’ve been talking about the iPhone coming to Verizon since day 1 here at the site, but the rumors have always turned out to be just that. Now a string of new information from the manufacturing sector and Apple’s own firmware files on the iPhone are lending some new fuel to the fire.
The first stirrings of a CDMA version of the iPhone 4 came when Techcrunch claimed to have been told by a source that Apple had placed an enormous order with Qualcomm to supply a new version of the iPhone with CDMA chipsets for a Verizon compatible iPhone.
This production run would likely be for a January launch, and I’d bet the phone is nearly 100% consistent with the current iPhone 4 (with a fixed internal insulator on the antenna).
This smacks of wish fulfillment to me, especially the note about an “insulator” on the antenna, but a large order of chips would definitely be hard to hide and Techcrunch stands by their sources veracity. The lack of an order like this was the very thing that made me doubt these rumors last time they cropped up. I would still color me a bit surprised however that Apple is going ahead with placing a decidedly current-gen chip in the new iPhone instead of waiting for something like a hybrid CDMA/LTE chip. Who makes such a chip you say? Qualcomm. Yeah, so it’s unknown what kind of chips Apple has ordered in particular, but If the iPhone on Verizon didn’t get hybrid chips, I’d be mighty surprised. My personal feelings on the matter is that if the chips are not a hybrid type, they could be used for a Verizon version of the iPad to run on the current 3G network.
The timing of a move to Verizon makes more sense now than ever before if Apple wants to retain the market share that they’re losing to Android simply because of the volume of units being sold. I’m not the only who thinks that either. Commenting in an article where he revealed that the new CDMA iPhone was in EVT (engineering verification, or one step before final testing) stages, John Gruber of Daring Fireball had this to say about the opportune timing of a Verizon iPhone release:
The key bit: “At the critical juncture […], when they should have gone for market share, they went for profits.” I think this encapsulates Jobs’s philosophy since taking over Apple in 1997. Take the high end of the market first, establish a brand and presence, then steadily start to expand.If they’re at that juncture with the iPhone now, expansion means CDMA. And in the U.S., it means Verizon
Way down deep within iOS 4 is a pretty intriguing block of code. Our source says that the code queries the device, and if the device is either a CDMA iPhone or iPad 2, the device will auto-activate, thus bypassing the need for iTunes. We’re told this block of code has appeared every year consecutively before a major iPhone / device release, removed right before launch. This allows the products to be field tested by carriers (or partners) without having to activate the handsets or devices.
They provided this screenshot to back up their findings:
So it’s looking from this that the code could refer to a new iPhone or the iPad for Verizon that I mentioned earlier. So not conclusive but when coupled with the other rumblings, it seems to point solidly towards Jobs finally taking a mistress, one with better reception.
Gruber also makes mention in his article that Apple has had a working CDMA iPhone device for some time on campus and this does make a lot of sense. It’s not as if the technology has been the problem. Instead, most fingers have pointed solidly at the corporate policies of the companies involved. Both are juggernauts in their industry with extremely set ways when it comes to handling hardware and software. Verizon particularly among all carriers has been known for their egregious and painful over-branding and manipulation of the software on manufacturers phones to suit their products and marketing ideals. This is something that I can guarantee you would go down like a razor blade pancake in the house of Jobs. The main sticking point here has most likely been related to the stubbornness of Apple when it comes to the iPhone product experience, which they want to keep completely carrier agnostic.
Perhaps this increasing of the rumor mill means that Apple and Verizon have finally broken their deadlock on the customization thing, or perhaps the business side of things is driving Apple’s desire for increased market share. Either way I think that before July of next year rolls around, all of us will have two carriers for our shiny new iPhone 5