Apple Inc. will bring to market a CDMA version of the iPhone for the Verizon Wireless network, according to unnamed sources talking to the Wall Street Journal. The phone will likely start in mass production in September, they said.
The sources also said that, as expected, a refresh of the existing iPhone will be uncorked this summer — no surprise since Apple does something new with the gadget every year in the June-July timeframe.
The decision to roll out a CDMA iPhone is a curious one, considering that there are few smartphone-hungry markets in the world outside of the United States that use the technology in a widespread fashion; current iPhone exclusive carrier AT&T Inc. as well as most Tier 1 operators worldwide use GSM technology.
To boot, CDMA 3G networks are on tap to be sunsetted with the advent of LTE 4G mobile broadband; Verizon, for instance, is expected to turn up LTE as soon as later this year. All of that combined would seem to offer a limited economy of scale for the long-term from the perspective of manufacturing and ROI on the R&D costs necessary to create the phone cost-effectively.
That said, an LTE-CDMA dual-mode version would have legs, as the two technologies will by necessity coexist in order to provide subscribers seamless data coverage during the buildout. And with CDMA-LTE smartphones already being planned for later this year by at least one major Korean handset maker, Apple likely feels that’s a market it would like to be a first mover in.
But, thus far, all we have is a nod to CDMA from unnamed sources. “There has been lots of incorrect speculation on CDMA iPhones for a long time. We haven’t seen one yet and only Apple knows when that might occur,” said an AT&T spokesman to the Journal, quite correctly.