Tuesday, July 20, 2010

If There Is an LTE iPhone, This is How Apple Will Launch It

When Verizon Wireless launches its LTE network, far ahead of any plans ATT, Apple currently and only iPhone partner in the United States, has for its own 4G network. The question for iOS fans is will Apple be on the LTE network? Yes would be my answer. The next question is "when?".

This is how I think it will go down when Apple releases an iPhone for Verizon customers.

First, Verizon will launch its LTE network in selected cities, bragging about the millions covered by the brand new 4G network. Probably in the 4th quarter of this year to maximize the number of markets. Then they’ll proceed to promise more markets in the first half of 2011. Obviously, there will be some chart comparing the wireless potential of LTE and contrast that with Sprint’s WiMax and the current GSM networks.

If there is an LTE iPhone, and there’s no reason to doubt that there is, it will not be a part of the batch of new devices VW will announce along with the LTE network. However, this is how Apple will do its own launch.

First, we have to assume VW launched a big enough LTE network to cover the major metropolitan areas. SF, LA, NY, Boston, you name it. There has to be a reason for the urban mobile warriors to want a LTE device to use along with a LTE network.

So in the first quarter of 2011, Apple will announce a LTE global iPhone to run on Verizon’s network. I don’t think it’ll be an “one size fits all” iPhone that also runs on the current GSM network or not. My guess is that it won’t. This is getting into an area of technical know-how that I sadly do not possess.

At that time, don’t be surprise of there is a “one more thing”. The iPad. Also look for the iPad to be running on VW’s LTE network as well.

Of course, this is all conjecture on my part and a lot of pieces have to fall into place for this scenario to happen. Which we know will happen. We just don’t know when. If VW isn’t able to build out a big enough network to Apple’s satisfaction, look for any LTE iPhone announcement to be pushed back to June, the traditional period when Apple refreshes the iPhone or even later in 2011.

And even if there is a big enough LTE launch, why won’t Apple join VW in the beginning? Steve Jobs. He doesn’t like sharing the limelight. Do you think Apple will be content to share the same stage with HTC, Droid, or anyone else?

We’re talking about the iPhone here.

Dream Launch. As a matter of fact, here’s a dream scenario that any Apple fan will want to see. On the day VW officially announces the LTE network, Apple is the exclusive launch partner. There are no other devices other than the iPhone. It would allow Apple a great degree of control over how VW launches its next generation wireless network.. The only device we’ll see in videos and slides is the iPhone.

Better yet, it would make sense for VW to solicit Apple’s PR team on how they ought to make the launch.

Now, there’s a reason why I called this the “dream” scenario. Because it’s never going to happen.

Back to Reality. An iPhone and/or iPad that runs on VW’s 4G network within a few months of the LTE launch is a very real possibility. Personally, I am not fooled by the claims of CDMA iPhones on the market. If there is such a device, it’s likely slated for overseas market rather than the North American market (probably for the Chinese market).

What we don’t’ know is if Apple will grace us with the LTE iPhone in 3 months, 6 months, or 9 months after Verizon launches its network. A first quarter launch of the iPhone for Verizon can happen if the 4G network sufficiently cover a big chunk of the wireless population. If not, 6 months (June) is the most likely time frame. Otherwise, look for a fall 2011 LTE iPhone launch, a year after the LTE network went online (when there is a big enough network).

Note: The reason why Apple will not launch a product on an incomplete network is because it makes no sense that one wireless user can buy a device and use it while another in another part of the country cannot because there is no coverage.

Another Note: I made no mention of ATT. Nor will Apple.

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