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Verizon eyes future iPhones

4G possibility

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Don't expect the largest mobile telecom carrier in the US to add the iPhone to its stable of smartphones - at least until the next generation of wireless-broadband technology comes of age.

Verizon's chairman and chief executive Ivan Seidenberg has told The Wall Street Journal it's unlikely that Apple would ever build an iPhone for the Verizon Wireless CDMA network - despite whisperings late last year that it would.

However, Seidenberg did offer the opinion that it was entirely possible that Apple and Verizon might work together when the telecom giant rolled out its 4G network, based on the same 4G technology, LTE, that AT&T is committed to.

After all, Verizon promises to blanket the entire United States with LTE service - no small market for Apple to want a piece of.

Verizon's 4G hopes might also extend to any future LTE-based Apple tablet or netbook - although, of course, such a device is still only in the rumor stage (even though Steve Jobs is reported to be fiddling away with one as we speak).

Verizon's future iPhone hopes might be fueled by regret. Back when the iPhone was still just a glimmer in Steve Jobs' eye, the company was offered the chance to be its sole carrier - and turned it down.

As they say, hindsight is always 20/20.

Since then, the überpopular smartphone has boosted AT&T's profits markedly - despite its rocky roll-out. And now AT&T is seeking to extend its iPhone exclusivity until 2011.

Perhaps they feel the hot breath of their larger competitor, Verizon, on their neck.

Or perhaps both carriers are begining to position themselves for the day when all mobile hardware - smartphones, laptops, netbooks, tablets, handhelds, MIDs - will be sold not as standalone devices but as hardware/service bundles.

After all, wireless broadband is the future (insert "Duh..."), and what better way for telecoms to control all access to it - as they now do smartphones - other than subsidizing the hardware with users paying through the nose on long-term contracts.

In our current 3G world, such bundles for hardware other than smartphones are offered as conveniences. In a 4G world, they may be the only game in town.

And Verizon and AT&T may eventually find themselves as suitors to Apple when it comes time to introduce Cupertino's first 4G iPhone. Or netbook. Or tablet. Or something we haven't even thought of yet. ®

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