Motorola's Mobile Mighty Jha Hints at Q1 Verizon iPhone

The Verizon iPhone could become a reality in early 2011 after all.

Motorola's mobility chief during a presentation Wednesday at the Credit Suisse 2010 Technology Conference suggested that the iPhone would come to Verizon in the first quarter of next year. Sanjay Jha, co-CEO of Motorola and CEO of Motorola Mobility, brought up the issue while providing guidance for analysts on the reporting period.

Speculation about the iconic smartphone coming to the nation's No. 1 wireless carrier has been rampant for years, but rarely is there a high-level executive in the industry hinting that it will come to pass. That's changed.

Jha during his Credit Suisse presentation said that there could be a new "competitive dynamic" at Verizon in Q1 of 2011 that could have a negative impact on the company's bottom line for the reporting period.

"The first quarter is seasonally down for our business over the last five years, and for the handset business in general...and of course, we have the additional challenge, potentially, at Verizon, there is a competitive dynamic developing there which may have an impact, given our strong relationship with Verizon, that may have an impact on our first quarter," said Jha.

Apple's iPhone is now still carried only on AT&T, as the companies have had an exclusive contract for the smartphone since it launched about four years ago. Details of the agreement have not been disclosed, but it's expected to expire sometime in early 2011 and there's been predictions that the iPhone will come to Verizon once a CDMA-version can be mass produced to run on the network.

Despite calling out a Verizon iPhone as a competitive challenge, Jha assured analysts that Motorola is poised for healthy growth next year as it expands its portfolio of Android-powered smartphones, enters the tablet space with a focus on the enterprise, international and retail sectors and begins to offer 4G handsets.

Jha said Motorola will launch some tablet PCs because the mobile devices represent an "important growth opportunity," but the company will retain its primary focus on smartphones.

"Smartphones are a computer you carry at all times, tablets are an interesting category, and we plan to participate quite fully, but smartphones are more important because each of us carries one at all times."


Android, iPhone, Apple, Motorola, Verizon