Apple Plants BizWeek Gadget Story To Turn Up Heat On AT&T?

Last night, BusinessWeek reported that Apple is working on two new wireless gadgets that could be powered by Verizon Wireless.

Could be a big scoop for BusinessWeek, which credits two veteran reporters with the story (and two others as helpers). Or could it be Apple planting facts to a trusted media outlet to put pressure on AT&T?

AT&T is trying to extend its exclusive deal to sell Apple’s iPhone in the U.S., which ends next year, and Apple probably wants to negotiate more favourable terms, such as AT&T subsidizing the phone more, improving its often-flaky 3G network, or offering cheaper service plans. Having to deal with the possibility that arch rival Verizon could potentially sell a cheaper, thinner iPhone is not going to make AT&T’s position stronger.

To be sure, the story does seem to check out — it makes sense that Apple would be working on a cheaper iPhone and a bigger “media pad.” And some of the quotes would sound fishy if coming from an Apple insider. But it’s still plausible that Apple is using the press as negotiating leverage with AT&T, which has a lot to lose if Verizon gets its paws on an Apple device.

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