Verizon iPhone Being Unwrapped Tuesday in NYC

The Verizon iPhone cometh -- tomorrow.

Verizon is holding a special press event tomorrow in New York City and it's widely expected that the nation's No. 1 carrier will officially unveil a CDMA version of the iconic handset, which has been the subject of speculation for years.

Two events on Saturday took the rumor of the imminent launch out of the bogus bin and into the realm of reality: one is that both Reuters and the The Wall Street Journal reported details of the Verizon iPhone release date and the other is that Verizon began using "Twitter for iPhone" to issue official corporate missives on the social network.

"Verizon Wireless, the top U.S. mobile provider, plans on Tuesday to unveil a version of the Apple Inc iPhone for its service and will kick off sales of the device a few weeks later, a source told Reuters. Verizon Wireless will offer the iPhone to its customers under its existing wireless service price plans, said the source, who asked not to be named as the plan has not yet been announced," said the Reuters report.

Verizon iPhone release date to be announced tomorrow

Soon after, members of the media began confirming that Verizon is holding a press conference tomorrow at 11 a.m. EST at the Frederick P. Rose Hall at Manhattan's Lincoln Center, hosted by Verizon COO Lowell McAdam.

At least one analyst thinks the Verizon iPhone is indeed on the agenda for the event. "There's definitely a gathering storm of reports that have some merit. This is how it usually happens, there's leaks with specific details to the more mainstream media... I think it's pretty clear that tomorrow will be the day we'll finally see the Verizon iPhone," William Stofega, program director for mobile device technology and trends at IDC, told EnterpriseMobileToday.com.

If reports are true, it will end the AT&T monopoly on the iPhone, giving consumers a choice of networks for the first time since the hero handset debuted in June 2007.

By expanding to Verizon, Apple stands to extend its sales to new customers who don't use AT&T, and eventually may steal AT&T subscribers unhappy with the performance of AT&T's network. Many iPhone users on AT&T have complained about dropped calls and other issues and it wouldn't be surprising if they defected to Verizon once their contracts expire.

The timing couldn't be better for Apple, as Google's new mobile operating system, Android, is gaining in market share as manufacturers are releasing dozens of different smartphones running the open source OS. Android-based handsets passed the iPhone in sales for the second quarter, according to Gartner.

"For Apple, it's obvious they needed to extend reach because they're not going to release a dozen different iPhone models at different price points or anything. But how much you can move the needle by launching essentially the same device on Verizon, we'll have to wait and see," said Stofega.

As for Verizon, Stofega said the carrier will have to be prepared to absorb the costs associated with selling the iPhone, namely the subsidy it will pay to sell the phone at an affordable price, the capital expenditures needed to shore up its network to handle heavy data use and any increases in call center or customer service help.

"Unless AT&T is filled with very rich people, there won't be a lot of defectors until contracts expire, so that pay off won't come immediately. And Verizon will get money through its contracts, but there are a lot of other costs associated with the iPhone, subsidies, infrastructure, though no doubt it will attract lots of new subscribers," said Stofega.

By press time, Verizon had not returned calls seeking comment.


Android, mobile, iPhone, Apple, Verizon