As of this writing, only 52% of those polled say they'd switch from AT&T (NYSE: T ) to get a new iPhone compatible with Verizon's 4G network, which is based on a technology called Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and due to go live in 38 U.S. cities before the end of the year. I take three things from this:
- AT&T isn't dropping calls nearly as much as it used to.
- Users don't trust scandal-tinged Verizon as much as they used to.
- Rising interest in Android handsets makes 4G iPhones less appealing, especially when 4G phones from Samsung and HTC are already available.
Both smartphones -- HTC's EVO 4G, and Samsung's Epic 4G -- are built for WiMAX, an LTE alternative that's already built into pockets of Sprint's (NYSE: S ) network. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) have invested in the technology by backing Sprint Nextel partner Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR ) .
So if some Fools are lukewarm about the prospects for an LTE iPhone on Verizon's network, and others are tired of AT&T's performance, is it possible they'd prefer a WiMAX iPhone? Should Apple and Sprint be talking? I think so.
Look, I know it wouldn't be easy for Apple to support three different types of networks. AT&T's GSM, Verizon's CDMA, and Sprint's CDMA and iDEN differ in numerous ways. LTE and WiMAX also differ. But Apple has been hiring hardware experts, and surely the designers of the A4 chip can also figure out how to economically create a line of iPhones that sport a choice of wireless radios.
The strategy also makes sense with Apple adding retail partners. Amazon.com and Target recently began selling the iPad, for example. More channels need more volume, and more volume means more handsets. There's never been a better time for Apple to open up.
Now it's your turn to weigh in. Do you want to see Sprint Nextel carry a WiMAX iPhone? Please vote in the poll below, and leave a comment to explain your thinking.