The whole tech blogosphere has been in a massive kerfuffle for the past week because of the alleged rumors of an iPhone-lite device coming to Verizon, or an enlarged media iPhone/Mac tablet, depends on which blogs are saying what, depending on the time of the day and other astrological alignments fill the sky.
As both a Mac and iPhone user, the prospects of having a portable MacBook like device with a touch screen, or a scaled down MacBook that isn’t a MacBook Air, or a mind reading device with a dedicated connection to Cupertino’s iMind Control Center would be awesome. But, ultimately, these rumors add up to just that: rumors. Here, now, is a list of reasons of why any sort of Apple device would not end up on Verizon anytime in the near future:
1) Apple and Verizon have a history together. Sort of. If ancient Internet legends are to believed (which, of course, they always should be, since there is never any hard evidence to disprove them), Verizon was actually the first telecom Apple came to with their holy device known now as the iPhone. Legend goes that Verizon was putt of, and perhaps even scoffed at the concept of allowing a phone manufacturer to have the sort of point-to-point control Apple was requesting/demanding without even seeing a device, and walked away.
Of course, the rest is history, as Cingular, now AT&T, let Apple do whatever they pleased in order to have the device on their network. So history is already working against the rumor from the beginning.
2) Apple devotees would be forced to have two separate contracts on two different carriers. This, to me, is the biggest problem with the entire rumor. If there is any truth that Apple is bringing a device to Verizon, then it has to be considered that existing iPhone customers will have to set up a new account with Verizon, and enter into a whole new two year contract in order to have the new device Apple is supposedly bringing to Verizon.
In the case of an iPhone-lite, this is less of a concern, but the media tablet scenario creates the biggest problem. There are countless numbers of iPhone users who have trouble using the on-screen keypad for large amounts of text entry, where a larger screen would be a boon. Putting such a device on a different carrier creates a host of problems, especially in these trying economic times (drink!) where having an additional cell phone/mobile Internet contract is an expense most people cannot afford. Even in the case of an iPhone-lite device, interested consumers will be forced to contend with porting numbers, exiting contracts, and dealing with a host of issues Apple is simply to intelligent about as a company to fall into.
3) Verizon is supposedly in talks with Microsoft for developing a device. If this doesn’t set of alarms, nothing will. Far be it for me to add anything to the rivalry between these two tech companies, but Verizon speaking to Apple while in concurrent negotiations with Microsoft simply doesn’t fall into the realm of possibility. Even if it were true up until this point, if Apple leadership was just cruising the blogs and stumbled upon this nugget of information, it would result in the immediate breakdown of talks between Apple and Verizon. How would that breakdown go? I imagine it would be something like this…[Steve Jobs calls Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam] Lowell McAdam: Hello?
Steve Jobs: Lowell, hey, hi, Steve Jobs here.
LMcA: Oh, Steve, hi, how are you?
SJ: Great, fine, perfect, soaking in the sun. Oh, Lowell, by the way, can you hear me now?
LMcA: What? Yeah, sure, Steve, I can hear you just fine.
SJ: Oh, that’s great. I was just checking the PERFECT, CRYSTAL CLEAR call quality of my iPhone on AT&T. Did you know the iPhone is on AT&T, Lowell?
LMcA: Why…yes, Steve I did know that. But I also know we were talking about bringing the [insert whatever product you think is coming to Verizon here] real soon.
SJ: Yeah, about that. I was taking a break from destroying Tim Cook in some beach volleyball just now, and on the blazing fast 3G of AT&T, I came across this little rumor that you guys were talking to Microsoft about developing some stuff.
SJ: Is this true, Lowell?
LMcA: Now, Steve, Microsoft is a very big player in the phone business. They’re a platform on many of the phones we carry at Verizon Wireless.
SJ: You don’t say.
LMcA: Yes. So it shouldn’t be so shocking that we were discussing some ideas with them.
SJ: Well, you’re absolutely right Lowell. My mistake. But, you know what’s really funny?
LMcA: What’s that, Steve?
SJ: We’re just not going to be able to bring [insert whatever product you think is coming to Verizon here] to Verizon Wireless anymore.
LMcA: Bu-but Steve…I have to say I’m shocked.
SJ: Shocked, Lowell? I’m sorry. I couldn’t hear you. Did that network of yours just break up?
LMcA: No, I don’t think so. Wait, let me…can you hear me now?
SJ: Yeah, Lowell, I can hear you, just fine. And you can hear this – we are DONE. Professionally, you and me are DONE. I like you, you’re a nice guy, but we are DONE.
[Steve Jobs slams his iPhone into the ground; an Apple peon hurriedly brings him a new phone and collects the shards of the previous device; Jobs makes a phone call to Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T Wireless] SJ: Ralph? Yeah, Steve Jobs here. We’re bring a new device, the [insert whatever product you think is coming to Verizon here] to you guys. Brand new. You’ll love it. It’s amazing. I’ll show it to you later today. Swing by my place. And bring over that new John Mayer album.
OK, maybe I went a bit hyperbolas there. But it might be like that.
4) The legacy network of Verizon Wireless is a CDMA network. This is perhaps a shaky argument, but still a reasonable one. Though Verizon Wireless is moving toward developing an LTE network, the same GSM standard which AT&T and several carriers across the world will be developing, the legacy network Verizon Wireless will be using will still be the existing CDMA 3G infrastructure they have in place today. As many iPhone 3G users, myself included, will tell you, the iPhone 3G frequently switches back and forth between 3G and EDGE networks, depending on AT&T’s coverage. While having an iPhone that could handle CDMA is simply a matter of swapping out a little radio, it’s enough of an issue to prevent Apple from going through with a partnership with Verizon Wireless.
5) Who does Apple give previews of their products to? Think back to any of the major products Apple has released in the last two years, and consider when Apple has ever previewed a major device prior to an announcement for the public. Certainly, there have been leaked shots, rumors and other leaks from within Apple, but even during the negotiations with AT&T for the iPhone, an actual device wasn’t revealed to the mobile services company until only a few weeks prior to MacWorld Expo, after several of the contract details had been hammered out between the two companies. To think Apple would give exclusive previews to Verizon Wireless just to solidify their standing seems kind of ludicrous, when compared to Apple’s previous efforts with other partners.
These are only a few ideas as to why the recent rumors regarding Apple and Verizon Wireless are bunk. There are more which I could dive into with greater detail, but honestly, my fingers are cramping up a little bit. The basic takeaway is this: everything is a rumor until Apple or Verizon Wireless says otherwise, and there isn’t any reason to believe either company will change their tune any time soon.