The Internet tubes have been awash with rumors of Apple and Verizon talks targeting a working relationship in 2010. While Verizon CEO Lowell McAdams has confirmed that they have talked to people at Apple, he’s otherwise not giving up any details about the discussions. BusinessWeek, however, who conducted the interview with McAdams, have found other sources that say Apple is working on two new products that might see distribution through Verizon Wireless.
News of the new devices comes via the oft-cited source of “people familiar with the matter” (as if people unfamiliar with the matter would be able to offer any information at all), one of whom reports actually having seen one of the devices. That one is supposed to be an “iPhone Lite,” details beyond which are not revealed. A “Lite” version of the iPhone has been a pet rumor of Apple followers since almost the advent of the iPhone itself, so it’s unsurprising to see them cropping up again. Presumably such a device would have less storage, maybe no camera, and perhaps lack Wi-Fi and other features.
The other device is another perennial favorite that basically sounds like an iPod Touch XL. Described by BusinessWeek as “a media pad that would let users listen to music, view photos, and watch high-definition videos” that also allows for VoIP calls via Wi-Fi, under which premise Verizon would most likely be involved. Maybe they’ll offer the thing as a piece of subsidized hardware in exchange for signing up for a wireless mobile broadband package, in a deal comparable to many European (and now U.S., too) netbook packages.
According to BusinessWeek’s sources, the new devices could come out as early as this year, with one possibly introduced as early as this summer. That makes sense if AT&T does indeed have iPhone exclusivity once again, since presumably nothing would prevent Verizon from working with Apple on other devices. Maybe Apple is taking a cue from BlackBerry maker RIM and other smartphone manufacturers that release different “exclusive” phone models with different carriers.
For now, the evidence just isn’t there to file this under anything other than wishful thinking, but it does make more sense than a netbook, given Apple’s very public stance against the devices. Apple’s iPhone/iPod touch brand is strong, and the App Store is a cash cow that would only benefit from having more devices funneling revenue its way. For the foreseeable future, iPhone OS represents far more growth potential than does OS X. Let’s just hope Apple recognizes that, too.