NEW YORK (
) -- Stale information has reheated fresh speculation around
next iPhone move.
and the prospects of a
help intensify the curiosity factor surrounding Apple's superphone. And it has taken only a little spark, courtesy of
, to get the sizzle going again.
The latest round of ruminations is based on info that dates back a couple years.
In a 2008 court document,
brought in a
, saying its exclusive iPhone sales deal with
wasn't secret or monopolistic. In its defense, Apple cited a 2007
story that reported
. Thus, the secret was quite public by Apple's estimation and hardly the work of conspiring monopolists.
The problem, however, is that the actual terms of the iPhone exclusivity contract have never been published. And it's quite possible that the original deal was supposed to last for as long as five years, subject to annual renewals and performance reviews.
That would explain why
. Several people familiar with the companies had confirmed that the deal was over this summer and that Verizon would be the next likely stop for the iPhone.
But in a last-minute reprieve, AT&T extended the contract. It was a surprising development that many attributed to AT&T's sudden willingness to cut the price of its iPad data service plan in half.
Analysts and industry insiders say they now remain completely uncertain about the next move for the iPhone, largely because the situation remains in flux.
Verizon, with its 90 million customers, is a big fat opportunity for Apple. And while Verizon has publicly said it remains open to a deal with Apple, it's entirely possible that the two giants
In fact, Verizon has entirely revamped its smartphone strategy, embracing
Android operating system. The effort has produced several Droid phones from
, including the
has obviously given Verizon a compelling alternative to the iPhone and could be used as significant leverage in negotiations with Apple. This will prove interesting as Verizon prepares for its national 4G LTE service introduction next year. By all conventional logic, Apple would relish a shot at selling a 4G iPhone, with a
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But as for the five-year exclusive deal between Apple and AT&T reported three years ago, it seems safe to assume that the original contract has had significant modifications.
AT&T is at least a year behind Verizon on the 4G expansion plan. And with its already-tarnish reputation for network quality, it might take more than price cuts for Apple to stick around another year.
And that's another reason why the Verizon iPhone speculation just won't quit.
--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.