Update: Piper’s “70%” prediction apparently originally dates back to a note from Oct. 17, but was reiterated in a note today. Still, worth discussing…
Earlier: AT&T’s era of exclusivity on the iPhone is fading fast. Piper Jaffray predicts that Apple will sell an iPhone at Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. wireless carrier, in 2010.
The prediction comes from Piper wireless analyst Chris Larsen, via a note from Apple analyst Gene Munster, whose title includes, “Verizon Is The Next Big Feature.”
Why would Apple sell a phone at Verizon next year? As we explained in September…
- Because Verizon is the biggest U.S. carrier, and could help Apple sell millions more phones per year.
- Because Apple is no doubt aware that AT&T, its current iPhone partner, is majorly flaking on network quality in big markets like New York and San Francisco.
- Because Verizon would otherwise continue to invest heavily in Apple rivals like Google Android and RIM BlackBerry.
- Because the smartphone market is a platform land grab and Apple can’t afford to lose ground — even at the risk of complicating their product line or back-end systems.
Why might Apple not sell an iPhone at Verizon next year?
- Perhaps the companies will not reach an agreement over revenue sharing; perhaps Verizon wants a cut of mobile app sales.
- Perhaps Apple wants to wait for 4G before selling at Verizon, suggesting no iPhone until 2011 or 2012. (We think this is less likely, because even a 4G Verizon phone would need to be able to backup onto Verizon’s 3G network.)
- Perhaps AT&T will offer even higher subsidies to keep Apple’s business exclusively for another year or two.
In the end, we agree with Larsen: We think a Verizon iPhone will be around sooner than later.
Meanwhile, Munster says he “remain[s] confident” that Apple will ship a record 9.3 million iPhones this quarter, “driven by international rollouts.”
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