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Rumor mill repromises CDMA iPhone

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It's time to launch a swarm Verizon iPhone rumors again - then swat them down.

The market-watchers at DigiTimes report that orders for 10 million CDMA iPhones have been received by Pegatron, a prominent Taiwanese design and manufacturing company.

According to DigiTimes, "sources from component makers" say that Pegatron has been stumbling recently and that - in a generous understatement - "new iPhone orders are seen as a step in the right direction".

Ten million CDMA iPhones would also be a step in the right direction for the few wireless carriers who use that mobile phone standard, and who want to get aboard the iPhone gravy train - such as Verizon Wireless and China Telecom.

While China Telecom is acknowledged to be the number three wireless carrier in the Middle Kingdom, Verizon is El Numero Uno in the US. But despite its status as top dog, it has had to sit on the sidelines and watch AT&T profit from its exclusive iPhone partnership with Apple.

Not that there haven't been rumblings that the US deal might be modified to allow multiple iPhone carriers, as is true in the UK, Australia, France, and elsewhere. Those rumors came to a head in the days before the iPad was announced, with some observers saying that the lifting of AT&T exclusivity was a done deal.

Well, nope. Didn't happen. There turned out to be no secret CDMA iPhone hiding in the wings.

However, another Verizonable "world-mode" phone - one that conforms to both the CDMA and GSM/UMTS standards - has also been rumored to appear sometime later this year. But if the rumors about that phone are correct, it will be a scaled-down version of the current iPhone. It's unlikely that Verzion would want to settle for the second-class model.

But China Telecom might. After all, iPhone sales are now growing by leaps and bounds in that country, and its market is certainly large enough to support both a top-drawer and an entry-level iPhone.

During a recent conference call detailing Apple's financial performance, chief operating officer Tim Cook noted that iPhone sales in the entire Asia-Pacific region were up 474 per cent year-on-year in the company's most recent fiscal quarter. "If you look at greater China, which is defined as mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, the iPhone units were up year-over-year over nine times," he added.

Cook noted that revenue from greater China in the first half of Apple's fiscal year was just under $1.3bn. "China has been interesting," he said.

Although Apple's secrecy on such matters leaves us groping to connect rumor-sourced dots, there's one more tidbit that supports the argument that DigiTimes's alleged Pegatron phone might be the rumored world-mode phone: when rumors of that phone surfaced last November, word was that it wouldn't be assembled by Apple's current iPhone manufacturer, Foxconn, but instead by - wait for it - Pegatron.

And so, if the new Pegatron rumors are correct, and if said CDMA phone is actually an entry-level world-mode phone, and if Apple chooses to make that phone available to both its current Chinese GSM/UMTS partner China Unicom and the CDMA network operated by China Telecom, then we stand by our earlier conclusion that Verizon won't enter the iPhone arena until 4G models based on LTE technology begin to appear, possibly in the first half of next year.

Or not. All of this is conjecture, after all, based upon the shifting sands of rumor and speculation.

One thing is solid, though: Apple's secrecy. Pegatron, as might be expected from a company that may or may not be dealing with Apple - or wanting to in the future - refused to confirm or deny the DigiTimes report. ®

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