NPR logo Investors, Net Buzzing Over Verizon iPhone Rumors


Investors, Net Buzzing Over Verizon iPhone Rumors

Apple was already set for a big week with the release of its iPad on Saturday. But the Internet's appetite for Apple product news is insatiable, as a Wall Street Journal story about the possibility of an iPhone for Verizon this summer has shown.

Apple's stock hit a record high in early trading Tuesday, jumping about 2 percent on news that a new iPhone — which has been available in the U.S. exclusively through AT&T — might soon be available for the Verizon Wireless network.

Verizon's stock was also up 2 percent on Tuesday, while Palm Inc. and Research in Motion, which manufactures BlackBerrys, were down sharply. Verizon is the largest customer for both manufacturers and the iPhone could eat into their sales.

An iPhone model for Verizon would be expected to double domestic sales of the device. Despite the popularity of the iPhone, Verizon has remained the nation's largest carrier for cell phone service.

"There is undoubtedly enormous pent-up demand for the iPhone on Verizon's superior network," Craig Moffett, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said in a note to investors Tuesday. "IPhone availability will therefore mean an immediate acceleration for Verizon's subscriber growth and, conversely, immediate share losses for AT&T."

Verizon and Apple have refused comment on the report, but an AT&T spokesman told Information Week, "We expect the iPhone to be a part of our future for a long time."

Apple supplies the phone to multiple carriers in other countries. But AT&T and Verizon use different technologies. There have been reports that Apple wanted to wait until Verizon improved its network before manufacturing a compatible device.

Verizon's plans are taking longer than expected, however, meaning there's still a pretty big window into which sales of a new iPhone could fit.

Apple has released an upgrade of the iPhone every June for the past two years — which is the timing suggested by the Journal story. The Journal reports that a different contractor is slated to build the Verizon version.

Those tidbits about the manufacturer and the timing of the release were enough to convince The Unofficial Apple Weblog that this latest report has more credibility than previous rounds of speculation that the iPhone was ready for Verizon.

But John Gruber, a noted Apple fan and critic, dismissed the report as a "lame rumor."

"They have no actual details of the next-generation iPhone," Gruber writes in a post on his Daring Fireball blog. "Nothing."