Verizon Wireless had a huge press conference showcasing their new LTE 4G Network at the Consumer Electronics Show last week in Las Vegas but company executives decided to save its most prolific announcement until they were back on their home turf in New York.
“The word collaboration is a key to our vision of the future,” said Lowell McAdam, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Verizon. “Today we are bringing to market the fruit of our strategic partner with another giant of the high tech industry and that is Apple.”
The long awaited and much expected partnership to bring the iPhone4 to Verizon customers, has been something both companies have been discussing since 2008, and that “customers have been hungry for, for years,” said Dan Mead, president and chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless. Robust testing for the device began about one year ago.
The Verizon/Apple partnership is a multi-year, nonexclusive agreement, but neither Mead or Tim Cook, Apple COO, would comment whether the iPhone4 will be available on other carriers.
Existing Verizon Wireless customers will have the opportunity to preorder the iPhone4 on Feb 3 before it’s available to the general public on Feb 10. The device can also act as a mobile hotspot, enabling a connection to five WiFi enabled devices.
The new iPhone4 is optimized to work on Verizon’s older CDMA network and not Verizon’s new LTE 4G network, which is baffling to some, since Verizon touts their 4G network as 10 times faster than 3G networks. The device will be consistent with the same experience you get on other CDMA devices, says Mead. This means you can’t surf the Internet while in a voice call and the Verizon iPhone will not have a slot for a SIM card.
The rush to introduce iPhone4 on the CDMA network as opposed to the Verizon 4G LTE network was prompted because the new 4G LTE chipset forced design compromises that Apple would not make, explained Cook. Also, he said that releasing a 3G version of the iPhone4 allowed Apple to immediately satisfy Verizon customers who had been inquiring about the phone for quite some time. “I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked when will the iPhone work on the Verizon network,” says Cook.
Still, Mead says that Verizon is committed to continue building the capacity of the 3G network for many years to come. The 16 GB iPhone4 will retail for $199.99 and the 32GB device will cost $299.99 with a two-year contract. Verizon would not comment on data plans or pricing strategies today, but did say that the company would make available a strong offer to attract customers to the network.
Not every iPhone user is convinced that this is the biggest announcement Apple will make this year. Corvida Raven, a social media strategists who concentrates on mobile technology, is considering making the switch from AT&T to Verizon, because she has been experiencing regular dropped calls. But she thinks something better might come out from Apple later in the year.
“Every year Apple upgrades the iPhone. Since Steve Jobs wasn’t here this wasn’t the big event, so I think we’ll have to wait and see what happens in May,” she says. “I would be so upset if I made the switch and then in May or June there was a better iPhone [released].”