Another day, another iPhone rumor--so is this one for real? The current buzz around the blogosphere is that Apple is preparing to offer its iPhone over Verizon's network, therein ending its thus-far-exclusive arrangement with AT&T. Before you immediately believe the hype, allow me to provide a few reasons to think twice.
iPhone on Verizon: Inside the Rumor
The rumor, published by Indian blog ITExaminer.com and attributed vaguely to "deep throats" within Apple, states that an iPhone-Verizon announcement will be made "soon." The site also points to past job postings on Apple's Web site for engineers specializing in EVDO and CDMA technology--two wireless broadband standards currently supported by Verizon's network and not AT&T's. (The standards are said to provide a far faster network than AT&T's EDGE-based platform.)
"While EVDO could cover a wide range of 3G skills, it is more likely that Apple is specifically after the Verizon Wireless standard," ITExaminer.com infers.
The report goes on to note past rumors that AT&T has been dissatisfied with the reach of its iPhone coverage on AT&T's network alone, suggesting that "Steve Jobs misjudged [AT&T's] control over the U.S. wireless market" and that Apple may be "hammering out a more open deal" while Jobs is away from the office on medical leave.
Reality Check, Aisle Two...
Right now, the rumor is no more than speculation--and, as anyone who follows iPhone news knows, there's always plenty of that to go around. Apple, of course, is staying mum on the matter (representatives weren't immediately available to answer our questions), but here are five reasons for some healthy skepticism about this latest scuttlebutt:
1. It's been reported before.
Yessir, this isn't the first time we've heard about an iPhone-Verizon deal. Back in September, Apple blog 9to5mac.com suggested agreements between the two companies would be finalized by the end of 2008. (At least one tech publication is already distancing itself from this week's report because of that.) The site said an announcement could come as early as MacWorld 2009. To be fair, it also said the deal could be revealed anytime during the year, so interpret as you wish.
2. AT&T likely still has an exclusive contract.
While the details have varied over time, most news outlets have put AT&T's exclusivity deal with Apple at a minimum of two years. This past July, USA Today said AT&T signed an extension that gave it exclusive distribution rights through 2010, modifying the original contract that provided Apple the option of bringing in other carriers in 2009.
3. The rumor ties the supposed progress with the deal directly to Steve Jobs' absence.
Jobs may be off the clock right now, but one has to question whether he would be completely uninvolved in such a major decision--and whether his staff, knowing his plans to return within a matter of months, would even consider doing something he is said to oppose.
4. The EVDO engineer jobs are no longer posted at Apple.
Go search Apple's jobs site for the EVDO engineer positions mentioned in the rumor report--they're no longer there. Moreover, the specific links to jobs cited in the past now return "no longer posted" errors. If the logic were true that Apple needed those engineers to move forward with the Verizon deal, and if the deal were on the brink of being announced, one might surmise the company would still actively be hiring.
5. Verizon passed on the iPhone once before.
In the iPhone's infancy, Verizon turned down a deal for the smartphone--apparently because Apple was "demanding control of marketing, pricing," and other considerations. Execs even later stated they were "relieved" they hadn't accepted the offer. Given the iPhone's success, is Apple likely to loosen the reins and ease those concerns now?
With all of that said, of course, things do change--and hey, sometimes rumors do turn true. (Like with the long-discussed $99 iPhone deal. Sort of.) All I'm saying is that we have to keep things in perspective and look at the big picture. There are plenty of holes in the Verizon deal theory, and even if there weren't, you can't be certain of anything with Apple until it's made official.
Just ask these guys.