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Verizon iPhone Launch Imminent?

With Apple Inc.’s mysterious launch event coming up next week, everyone’s wondering if we’ll finally see the Apple tablet unveiled. But at least one analyst thinks we’ll also see a CDMA iPhone, bound for Verizon Wireless.

Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek told investors in a note that supply chain information indicates that Apple is prepping for mass production of the iPhone 4G, which would be a world phone, supporting GSM and HSPA as well as CDMA, and will start shipping in June on the Verizon network. An updated “4GS” LTE phone will follow a year later, he predicts, shipping in June 2011. He also expects to see the iPhone OS 4.0 at the event.

“We believe there is a good chance that the ‘One more thing…’ part of next week’s presentation may include two iPhone-related announcements: namely, the release of iPhone OS 4.0 and the unveiling of iPhone 4G coming to Verizon in June,” he said.

If new iPhones are revealed, it will be a departure from form. Apple typically announces iPhone refreshes at its Worldwide Developers Conference, held in June.

Accordingly, UBS’ Maynard Um recently wrote that a CDMA version of the iPhone will appear in the next product refresh cycle in the summer. “We believe a CDMA iPhone is also in the works, though Verizon Wireless and Apple may currently be apart on pricing,” he said in a research note – meaning the two need to work out the discrepancy between the actual handset cost to Verizon vs. the carrier’s consumer subsidy and ROI model.

Verizon, the nation’s largest mobile carrier, would bring millions of new potential customers to Apple. However, some question the wisdom of creating a phone that will run on what is widely considered a sunsetting technology in developed markets – CDMA.

Um’s money is on the tablet to be announced next week, and likely suppliers have emerged, including LG, Wintek, Simplo, Foxconn, Broadcom and others. The device, with its 10-inch screen, is not an iPhone, not a Netbook, but somewhere in-between. It is rumored too to exist at the center of a nebulous web of functionality that includes e-readers, enterprise functionality, gaming devices, GPS navigation, music, video and more.

Verizon might not be completely out of luck next week. Broadpoint AmTech analyst Brian Marshall recently said that unnamed sources have told him that it’s a “certainty” that Verizon will support the tablet. However, so will other carriers, he said – it will be a non-exclusive.


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