The stars are aligning for Apple and Verizon to finally come together in a deal that will bring the iPhone to the biggest mobile carrier in the US. While some are still in denial, you can’t ignore the circumstantial evidence that points to a not-so-distant partnership.
First, let’s look at the tidbits of data we have; there was this article back in March from the guy who tends to get things right regarding apple (he is suspected to be the official guy that apple goes to for these tidbits, and also the guy who wrote the latest article about iphone coming to verizon).
There was this report regarding this mysterious Qualcomm chip order.
Then there’s AT&T’s comments about the Verizon iPhone (essentially saying the people are ‘stuck’ in their current contracts, so bring it on):
“Stephenson couldn’t dodge questions about the looming loss of AT&T’s exclusive iPhone deal. But he did play down its importance, saying that two thirds of iPhone owners were long-term AT&T users before they signed up for the iPhone service, saying they’re unlikely to switch. He threw out the stat that 80 percent of the iPhone base is either in a family talk plan or in a business relationship with AT&T, saying that those customers are ‘very sticky.’ Stephenson emphasized the “extended array” of smartphones Apple subscribers can pick from, which reads as AT&T saying it’s not too reliant on Apple” [Read more here]
The timing is perfect as well. How best to minimize the sales of Android devices during the holidays? Right before the holiday buying season, leak a story that you are selling the iPhone in January on Verizon. Coincidentally Apple’s annual event is in January, perfect to announce the availability. CES is also in January, which gives Verizon its podium to announce it as well.
Now the fact that Verizon is selling it’s iPad in Verizon stores is just the first step in that partnership.
If you think about it, Apple really doesn’t have an option – they have to find another carrier if they want to expand their market share. Google and the Android platform are eating Apple’s lunch right now in terms of growth, and long term handset projections are not pretty if you are Steve Jobs. Apple may have had the upper hand with their smartphone play early on, but all they did was spur the rapid adoption of these smart devices, essentially helping to make them mainstream. While they arguably have the best interface and are continuously ranked high in customer satisfaction, they cannot afford to sit out a round. They have to make a move in January 2011 or risk falling behind.
Update: Crunchgear today is reporting that Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, has stated that he thinks that Android will eventually win the mobile platform race. Surely Steve Jobs is not going to stand for that!
Disclosure: I own shares of Apple stock.