Verizon to 'Definitely, Maybe' Get iPhone in January

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The iPhone might be coming to Verizon in January? Can it be true? The rumor that never dies has popped up again thanks to some vague language in a filing to the SEC, and yet another rumor that Apple is producing Verizon-compatible chipsets for the iPhone. It's hard to know for sure what to believe when it comes to the future of Apple's smartphone, but there's nothing like a little iPhone rumor-mongering to kick off the week so let's dive in.

iPhones? We Don't Need no Stinking iPhones.

AT&T discussed its exclusivity arrangements at great length in its recent quarterly filing with the SEC, and first reported by The Wall Street Journal. The filing has sparked speculation not so much for what it said about the iPhone, but what it didn't say.

When discussing its wireless business, the carrier said it offered a wide range of devices including 18 smartphones. The reason for offering so many phones, the company said, was to reduce "dependence on any single handset."

If you've been following tech news for more than five minutes it doesn't take much to conclude that by "dependence on any single handset," the company likely means "dependence on the iPhone." AT&T may offer a variety of other handsets, but the iPhone is the most popular device the company sells. There's also no question the company is best known as the exclusive iPhone carrier in the United States.

After declaring the company doesn't depend on one handset, AT&T's report gets even more suggestive. "As these exclusivity arrangements end," the report says, "we expect to continue to offer such handsets...[and] do not expect any such terminations to have a material negative impact on our Wireless [sic] segment income."

AT&T doesn't come right out in its report and say the iPhone exclusivity arrangement is over. But taken together, the comments about dependence on one device and the end of exclusivity sure sound like AT&T's preparing its investors for a soft landing once the carrier loses control of the iPhone.

CDMA in the Pipeline

While AT&T may be preparing for the end of iPhone exclusivity, Apple is reportedly ramping up production of CDMA chipsets for the iPhone, according to TechCrunch. CDMA is the cellular network standard used by Verizon, while current versions of the iPhone are made for GSM networks. So Apple would to produce a modified iPhone for Verizon, and that could take as long as six months.

TechCrunch's report is based on anonymous sources that purportedly have deep knowledge of Apple's supply chain. The report contends that Apple has ordered "millions of units of Qualcomm CDMA chipsets" to produce Verizon-compatible iPhones. The handsets would reportedly be finished by December in time for a January launch.

Here We Go Again

Of course, this isn't the first time rumors of a 2010 or 2011 Verizon iPhone launch have surfaced. In June, Bloomberg Businessweek also reported the iPhone would be on Verizon by January. Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal said Apple would start manufacturing iPhones for Verizon by September. In May, there were also rumors about a late summer launch. But given the long history of iPhone-Verizon rumors it's probably wise to take these latest rumblings with a healthy dose of doubt.

Then again, rumors about a Verizon iPhone are starting to take on a life of their own. The last time that happened in the Apple rumor mill, the company launched the iPad.

Connect with Ian on Twitter (@ianpaul).

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