Almost as soon as the iPhone debuted on AT&T back in 2007, rumors started swirling that the popular touch-screen handset would head to Verizon Wireless as soon as AT&T's exclusivity ended. And since then, as AT&T's network has struggled to keep up with the demands of iPhone users, the rumor has only intensified. Indeed, every day I hear it repeated somewhere, whether it's from a tech/gadget site, a random Facebook friend, or a stranger I meet on the street.
Analysts have also dished the rumor on occasion, and just last week Brian Marshall, an Apple analyst with Broadpoint AmTech in San Francisco, mentioned it in an interview with Bloomberg News. Marshall suggested that Apple pursue Verizon Wireless as a possible carrier after AT&T's exclusivity contract ends next year.
The problem with Marshall's argument, and the rumor itself, is that it relies on a "fact" that has yet to be proven. To date, neither Apple nor AT&T have publicly said when the exclusivity contract will end. Though the summer 2010 is the most common time frame given--it would mark the third anniversary of the original iPhone--the details of the contract have yet to be released. We know that AT&T's exclusivity will end at some point, but we don't know exactly when that will be. Perhaps Marshall was told something in confidence, but I can promise you that I haven't heard anything of the sort.
Like I said back in August, I think that a Verizon iPhone is still possible (remember that Verizon's misfit toy ad is slamming AT&T's network and not the iPhone). Yet, I don't think it will happen until Apple produces a hybrid GSM/CDMA phone or adopts LTE technology (Canada's Telus did something similar with an HSPA device). Otherwise, I think it's unlikely that Apple would produce a CDMA-only version, even for America's largest carrier. I could be wrong, but I'm not going to believe any rumors about a Verizon iPhone until I hear something from Apple and Verizon. And similarly, I'm not going to believe anything about AT&T's exclusivity until I hear it from AT&T.
Until that time I can speak only to the rumor as I've always done. No matter what you heard through the grapevine or from a customer service rep in a Verizon store, we still don't know when, or even if, the iPhone will come to Verizon. Until that changes, I wouldn't take the rumor--and that's exactly what is it--seriously.