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At long last, Verizon has an iPhone. The carrier held a media event in New York today to announce that, after years of negotiations, it will make an iPhone available to its customers early next month.
Before the announcement was made, Verizon President and COO Lowell McAdam hit the stage to discuss Verizon’s network investment and what today’s announcement will mean for consumers in the US. Given the improvements Verizon is offering with its LTE 4G network, he wishes they could call it “6G.”
McAdam said Verizon and Apple have been working together for two years to make the Verizon iPhone a reality. He announced that the phone would be available next month.
Apple COO Tim Cook then introduced the iPhone, which is pretty much the same as the current iPhone 4. Unfortunately for 4G hopefuls, it will be a CDMA phone — so it won’t run on Verizon’s LTE 4G network. Cook said Apple has enormous respect for Verizon and the “hard won loyalty from its customers.” That’s something I can’t imagine Apple saying about AT&T.
Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead then came on the stage to talk logistics. The company will start training its employees this week, and it will start improving its delivery systems to handle the increased volume of sales. “We have designed this network to give the customer the optimum experience,” Mead said. The company has been testing thousands of iPhones on its network for months.
“We’re ready for this launch,” he said. Indeed that seems to be the prevailing theme at the event.
On February 3, existing Verizon customers will be able to pre-order the iPhone before others. It will be available to everyone on February 10. It will come with 3G hotspot capabilities, allowing up to five separate devices to share mobile internet. AT&T, on the other hand, struggled to offer basic internet tethering for a single device on its network.
Cook and Mead then joined the stage together to field some questions. When asked why they went for a CDMA iPhone instead of LTE, Cook said that LTE chipsets would force some design compromises that Apple wouldn’t make. Additionally, Verizon customers want the phone now, instead of waiting for Apple to plug-in LTE.
When asked if the phone was exclusive to Verizon, Cook said that Apple has a multi-year non-exclusive contract with Verizon. He wouldn’t comment on what that meant exactly, but it sounds like the door is open for Sprint to eventually get an iPhone.
Someone was brave enough to ask about CDMA’s inability to run voice and data traffic at the same time. Mead said that the iPhone would work like any other CDMA device, meaning you won’t be able to hold a voice call and use data services like you can on AT&T’s iPhone. While this may be a deal-breaker to some, it seems like a good tradeoff for the addition of mobile hotspot capabilities.
Surprisingly, VentureBeat’s Matt Lynley found that the announcement of the Verizon iPhone had little effect on the stocks of all companies involved. It will definitely have an effect on the amount of iPhones Apple ships though — iSuppli predicts that they will increase by 12.1 million this year. But while it’s certainly good for Apple, VentureBeat’s Owen Thomas sees the Verizon iPhone as a sign of the end of the golden age for mobile carriers.
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