At January's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg is scheduled to give a keynote address where he's likely to announce a new partnership between Skype and Apple on a Verizon iPhone...at least that's what the speculation has been for some time.
In fact, if the Verizon iPhone is not announced at CES, it may go down as being one of the biggest tech disappoints of all of 2011. So where do we stand with the rumors now? How sure of a thing is this?
To analyze the state of the rumor mill, we've rounded up some of the more promising evidence and listed it below, including confirmations from journalists, analyst evidence and a few more oddball sightings and reports. Individually, no single report may have convinced you of the mythical iPhone's existence, but seen from this angle, it looks to be the real deal. Now the only question is when? At CES? Or at a separate Apple press conference at some later date?
Confirmation from Journalists
A number of news organizations have "confirmed" the existence of the Verizon iPhone. Some of the more notable stories on this matter have included:
- The Wall St. Journal's October, 2010 report: "Apple Readies Verizon iPhone." In this story, WSJ reporters cited sources ("people familiar with the matter") who said the phone will sell early next year.
- Fortune (CNNMoney.com) in late October, 2010 also confirmed the device with an article titled "Get ready for Verizon's 'Dream Phone.'" Here, Fortune answered the question of the iPhone's existence with a "yes," saying it has "confirmed that a Verizon iPhone will be released in early 2011."
Expectations from Analysts
The analysts have no doubt that the Verizon iPhone is coming, either early or mid-2011. Most major firms have baked in the Verizon iPhone into their estimates.
- Apple iPhone for Verizon: Analyst Fully Bakes it Into Estimates," talks about how Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster upped his iPhone sales estimates based on the Verizon iPhone launch, assumed to be either early- or mid-CY11. A second story, "Apple iPhone for Verizon: J.P. Morgan Now Fully Baking it In" is the same kind of thing, but a different analyst. This time, Mark Moskowitz of J.P. Morgan raised his price target on the shares to $420 from $400 due to the Verizon iPhone's impending launch. The Wall St. Journal, again, in December, 2010 released a pair of stories about the not-so-mythical device. One, "
- Nomura Equity Research (Reuters): A report from Reuters cites Noruma analysts as saying "We believe the iPhone will arrive on Verizon's shelf sometime early in 2011 ... Although we expect losses of at least 2.2 million subscribers to the Verizon iPhone ... AT&T could have a net positive impact on earnings due to the early termination fee revenue."
- Another WSJ story from December 8, 2010: "Apple Target Price: $390, Says Stifel" cites Stifel Nicolaus analyst Doug Reid share price raise from $360 to $390. The article also noted Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster's 12-month price target of $431 on Apple and Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi's target of $375, also based on the Verizon partnership. WSJ's brief article didn't mention the reason for the changes, but Fortune (CNNMoney) did, saying it was due to Stifel's "increased confidence" of a Verizon (VZ) launch in early 2011 (mid-February is his best guess)," in its story "How many Verizon iPhones will Apple sell next year?"
- The December Fortune article also made mention of Merrill Lynch's Scott Craig raising his target to $420 (from $415) because they "expect a Verizon iPhone to be introduced in early C2011, and we are now baking Verizon into our estimates." Also mentioned were Stifel Nicolaus' Doug Reid, Barclays Capital's James Ratcliffe, analysts at BMO Capital Markets and Asymco's Horace Dediu.
A few other glimpses that may or may mean anything, but seem to be telling when combined with other evidence:
- eWeek cited an AT&T SEC filing for the quarter ending June 30th, in which the company seemed to be talking more about its variety of offerings, a signal that it may be aware it will soon lose its grip on the iPhone, said eWeek. "We believe offering a wide variety of handsets reduces the dependence on any single handset as these products evolve. In addition, offering a number of attractive handsets on an exclusive basis distinguishes us from our competitors." The "any single handset" remark stood out to some analysts.
- Motorola is making a point to claim a technical edge with its LTE smartphones, the first on Verizon's network, says Electronista. This makes a case for the Verizon iPhone - if the Verizon phone is CDMA/EVDO-based 3G, an LTE/4G Motorola phone would have something to brag about. (And certainly makes this Android vs iPhone debate more interesting!)
- Even small time bloggers are getting leaks these days. For example, this guy heard from a source at a "major network maintenance company" who had a budget meeting with Verizon, that Verizon basically said they are pouring money into network upgrades to prepare for the iPhone's launch.
- Skype slips up, gets caught posting the Verizon logo next to an iPhone question in its help documentation. As caught by bloggers at 9to5Mac.com, a Skype goof on their website leads even more credence to the Verizon iPhone rumors, when it posted a Verizon logo next to a question in its Help section reading "How do I make video calls with Skype for iPhone?" The question had no answer and was quickly removed. (Also, video calls with Skype on iPhone? Hooray!)
For what it's worth, not everyone thinks CES will be the venue for the Verizon iPhone announcement. A writer for Beatweek, a publication dedicated to Apple products, social media, music and podcasting, says "Apple figured out it can get more buzz...by holding its own press events to launch products than it can get from any keynote slot at any tech conference." Which means, of course, "...there's no way to explain how anyone could have though the Verizon iPhone was coming at CES."
Well now, who's taking bets?
And while we're at it, who wants one in white?