Update: An iPad for Verizon is still in the works, a Verizon source says.
This, no doubt, surprised and disappointed many, who trusted reports from news organisations and Wall Street analysts that the Apple tablet would absolutely be available with service from Verizon Wireless, the biggest U.S. mobile carrier.
For example, in early January, Broadpoint AmTech analyst Brian Marshall said that the tablet would “definitely” ship with Verizon service.
Here’s his quote via Computerworld: “The tablet will be supported by multiple [mobile] carriers,” said Brian Marshall of Broadpoint AmTech, citing unnamed sources he said were close to the situation. “Verizon and others,” he continued. “Definitely Verizon. I’ve been told that’s a certainty.”
Similarly, Northeast Securities analyst Ashok Kumar said in mid-January that Verizon would be Apple’s partner. “The hotly anticipated Apple Tablet — or the Apple Newton II — will feature a wireless chip made by Qualcomm,” TheStreet.com’s Scott Moritz wrote. “This discrete little fact would confirm that Apple has chosen Verizon as its telco partner, says Northeast Securities analyst Ashok Kumar.”
TheStreet’s Moritz also reported last July that Apple and Verizon would partner for the tablet, citing an unnamed source “familiar with the companies.”
These are just three of several reports suggesting — to varying degrees of certainty — that Apple and Verizon would work together on the tablet, dating back to BusinessWeek’s scoop last April.
We guess not. So what happened?
There’s enough smoke around the Apple-talking-to-Verizon fire to suggest that the companies were indeed talking about some sort of deal, whether for the iPad, iPhone, or both. Given Verizon’s size and reputation for having the best mobile data network, Apple would be stupid NOT to talk to the carrier. So we don’t doubt that discussions were occurring. (And may still be. How sweet would it be for Apple to announce in March that the new tablet would be shipping in a month with wireless options from the two biggest U.S. carriers?)
But given that AT&T won the deal, at least initially, something obviously fell through. Such as…
- Perhaps AT&T gave in on pricing for Apple’s iPad data plans and Verizon wouldn’t match. The $29.99 unlimited, no-contract, prepaid plan is especially impressive.
- Perhaps Verizon wanted to make iPad buyers sign contracts, or wanted to make sure it could sell the iPad in its retail stores, or wanted its logo somewhere, or something else that couldn’t get the deal done fast enough.
- Perhaps Apple wasn’t happy with a chip or wireless radio component, or wanted to push along the GSM-based edition before it messed with an EVDO-based version.
- Perhaps Apple’s original iPhone exclusive with AT&T also somehow covered the iPad, at least until a certain date.
Reached for comment, Broadpoint AmTech’s Brian Marshall says he’s “not 100% sure” what happened, but that the companies will still work together. “Based on some of my datapoints, I still think VZ will happen in the near-term on the iPad and in 2H10 on the iPhone.”
Northeast Securities analyst Ashok Kumar, reached on the phone, says similarly that he is confident Apple and Verizon have a relationship. He thinks that Verizon support for the iPad will still be announced at some point — perhaps in June at Apple’s WWDC conference, during which Steve Jobs could announce a Verizon iPhone, too.
This makes sense, and we expect to see Apple and Verizon together sooner than later, even if only for the iPhone.
We’ve also reached out to some of the other people who promised a Verizon deal, and will update if we hear back. Verizon Wireless declined to comment.
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