Seriously, people: Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) will not get an Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPhone anytime soon. It's nothing but wishful thinking by iPhone fans growing tired of the AT&T (NYSE: T ) network experience.
I'm not here to quote any nebulous inside source, or the usual runaround. Instead, I'm reading the tea leaves spelling out this undeniable message. First we had a print ad by Verizon and Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) that flat-out makes fun of the iPhone. That's not how you start a partnership with Apple, friends.
This time, it's Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg telling us in so many words at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference this week that the iPhone is not headed his way, followed by a lucid explanation of why it doesn't matter:
We have worked hard at building a franchise out of Droid, which proves that if there is an acceptable alternative to the iPhone, and a great network, and a great distribution channel, the market will go there for it. We don't feel like we have an iPhone deficit. We would love to carry it when we get there, but we have to earn it. We have to show all the suppliers that we have equal treatment, and we have a network for people to put all of their equipment on.
In other words, Samsung Galaxy S and Droids by Motorola, Samsung, and HTC are filling the iPhone void quite nicely, thank you very much, and Apple needs to get in line like everybody else if it wants to sell iPhones in our stores.
The main thrust of Verizon's strategy right now is 4G technology anyway, including the rollout of an LTE network in about 30 major markets by the end of the year. Throwing a decidedly 3G-flavored iPhone launch into that mix would take away from the marketing message that Verizon wants to convey, and nobody expects a 4G iPhone until next summer at the very earliest. And that segment of the presentation ended with a zinger: "Hopefully, at some point Apple will get with the program."
It's still in Apple's best interests to add Verizon and other CDMA-oriented networks to its iPhone reseller network, because that expands the market for this gadget by leaps and bounds both in America and elsewhere. But don't expect a CDMA iPhone anytime soon, given that both Verizon and Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S ) are busy with their 4G programs.