Apple (AAPL) and Verizon (VZ) are in talks about selling two new wireless devices, BusinessWeek reports. This follows up — and contradicts — an earlier report from USA Today that Verizon was planning to offer Apple’s iPhone as early as next year.
According to BusinessWeek, the devices are a less-expensive “iPhone lite” and a bigger “media pad” that “would let users listen to music, view photos, and watch high-definition videos” as well as offering wi-fi calling. This sounds a lot like the tablet that Apple is supposedly developing, which we’ve been calling the “iPod touch HD.”
This makes some sense. If Apple is going to become a dominant mobile phone maker, it’ll eventually have to offer something cheaper than $199. But we wonder what an “iPhone lite” would be like. BusinessWeek describes it as “slightly thinner and smaller than the existing iPhone,” using more a cost-efficient chip.
That sounds good, assuming it can keep most (if not all) of the iPhone’s features. For instance, the phone would probably have to work with the iPhone App Store and include location features. Apple has repeatedly said it has no interest in selling crappy “voice” phones, so we assume it wouldn’t be too “dumb” to be worthy of the iPhone name.
Meanwhile, we’ve long thought the “media pad” device is a smart one — especially if it could also support Verizon’s 3G network for data service. While PC makers have tapped the fast-growing market of “netbook” mini laptops, Apple has repeatedly slammed them for being crappy, cramped devices that consumers ultimately won’t be happy with.
That’s where Apple could bring its hardware expertise, multi-touch user interface, and powerful OS X software to make a great device. BusinessWeek describes it as “smaller than an Amazon Kindle electronic reader, but its touchscreen is bigger than the Kindle’s,” citing someone who’s seen it. And if Verizon is willing to subsidise it — with a 2-year contract, of course — then it’s a win-win situation.
There’s still many unanswered questions. For instance, will Apple make a phone device for Verizon’s current 3G network or wait for its next, 4G network? What does this mean for AT&T’s exclusive on the “real” iPhone? As always, let us know if you have more information: In comments below, via email to [email protected], or via our anonymous tips box.