Another Analyst Predicts Verizon iPhone
The widespread belief among bloggers and journalists is that next week's Apple event in San Francisco will be the formal introduction of the long-rumored tablet, often described as an "iPod Touch on steroids."
But it seems the news won't be limited to just the tablet, slate, or whatever name Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has chosen for it. The growing rumor, no doubt spurred on by some wishful thinking, is the "V" wordVerizon (NYSE: VZ).
Dissatisfaction with AT&T (NYSE: T), Apple's exclusive partner for the iPhone, is as well documented as the tablet rumors. AT&T has taken a pounding for its congested networks and despite promises and excuses, it still fails to deliver. At the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, iPhone users saw their phone turned into an iPod Touch, as the AT&T coverage was effectively gone, while Verizon users had no such problems.
The latest analyst to say iPhone aficionados will get their wish is Peter Misek, an analyst for the Canadian financial consulting firm Canaccord Adams. In a research note, Misek thinks there will actually be multiple news announcements in addition to the tablet.
First, he expects the introduction of iPhone OS 4.0, which has been rumored and predicted by others. Second, Misek thinks the company will announce plans to sell the next version of the iPhone via with Verizon Wireless starting in June.
Misek also believes Apple will stay with AT&T, despite all the complaints about its network. With the phone on two carriers, hopefully the load will be balanced, and he said Verizon better be ready to handle the crush of millions of cranky iPhone users who want off AT&T's network.
"If that happens, they will destroy Verizon's network, so Verizon better hope that doesn't happen," he told InternetNews.com. "You don't want AT&T's problem to be transferred to Verizon, but I don't think Verizon is expecting that, either. I think Verizon has aggressive but not overly aggressive targets for the device."
Misek believes the Apple supply chain is already prepping for mass production of a new iPhone to ship late in the calendar second quarter. By supporting Verizon and AT&T, that means Foxconn, Apple's manufacturing partner in China, will have to make both CDMA phones for Verizon and GSM phones for AT&T.
In addition to that, Misek believes the tablet will also be offered through a carrier. "There's a good chance one of the big carriers, Verizon or AT&T, will have a deal with them. I think the tablet will be available in a subsidized version with a wireless data plan. Because of that, I think it will run iPhone OS 4.0 and it will be a very fascinating product," he said.
TheStreet.com has an article where it cites Northeast Securities analyst Ashok Kumar, who makes a similar claim: Verizon will subsidize around $200 of the cost of the tablet and offer a data plan of about $60 a month.
Misek added that he feels iTunes will get a makeover to add magazines and periodicals for tablet downloaders and there will be a subscription model similar to Amazon's Kindle, where consumers can get their publications on the tablet instead of via dead trees.
The loser in all this isn't AT&T, it will be Palm. Palm had a hot little device in the Pre smartphone and announced plans to join Verizon at CES earlier this month, but it's going to be severely overshadowed by the iPhone. "The problem for Palm is they missed their window of opportunity," said Misek.
Misek is also looking further out than one generation. He predicts a 4GS iPhone that will support LTE (long-term evolution) will arrive in June 2011. He's also expecting tiered data plans are in the works at Verizon, in response to the complaints of one-size-fits-all with AT&T's current data plan.