Verizon iPhone Debate Heats Again

Apple iPhone goes to Verizon: New signs, old news help revive speculation on when or if the Verizon iPhone will arrive.
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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) --The debate over when or whether the

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

iPhone goes to

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

has roared hot and loud for the past year and still shows no sign of quieting.

On one side, people close to Apple's supply and manufacturing partners say the Verizon iPhone is set for production late this year and is expected to arrive in early 2011.

But the other side says not so soon, and maybe never.

The latest development in this ongoing story is a

TechCruch report

earlier this week that repeats some old news --

first reported

at

TheStreet

and later reported by

Bloomberg

-- that Apple had selected

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

as its wireless chip supplier for a Verizon compatible phone.

According to these reports, Apple has told manufacturers and suppliers to begin full production of millions of CDMA phones in November ahead of a January Verizon iPhone sales launch.

Investors are understandably eager to see Apple jump into a partnership with Verizon, the nation's largest wireless shop. With some 92 million customers at Verizon, Apple would likely see a major jump in sales.

But skeptics point to a few flaws in the Verizon iPhone story.

One: Verizon and

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

have built a strong partnership around Android phones (the one specifically named Droid) to answer the success of the Apple iPhone at

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

.

Two: Verizon is preparing a 4G long term evolution (LTE) network it hopes to have complete in 2012. The Verizon iPhone is seen as an ideal product to launch the service with.

Three: Verizon has rejected Apple's iPhone over control issues once before, and neither side has exactly softened over time.

Four:

Motorola

(MOT)

insider moves suggest the iPhone won't be crashing the Droid party soon at Verizon.

Morgan Stanley analyst Ehud Gelblum is in the skeptic camp. In a recent note, he described Motorola investor Carl Icahn's increased ownership stake (to 10% from 8.8% last week) as a strong sign that Droid would continue to be a big commitment by all the partners.

It was "a move that would appear inexplicable in the face of an iPhone launch at Verizon in the early part of next year," Gelblum wrote.

That leaves a mid-year or late-year Verizon iPhone 2011 a possibility.

One thing's for sure: the debate will continue.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.