A New iPhone…But Not for Verizon

On Tuesday, Apple announced its latest iPhone, an AT&T exclusive. So why won't local Big Red reps shut up about it?

Yesterday in San Jose, California, Apple CEO Steve Jobs was on-hand for what has become a June tradition: the unveiling of the company’s latest iPhone.

The new smartphone has a handful of new bells and whistles: a stainless steel rim, a thinner form factor, a faster processor, better battery life, a video conferencing camera and an impressive new high-resolution display, among other technological advancements.

But one new feature that didn’t crop up was support for Verizon Wireless’s network. Currently, the coveted phone is only available for AT&T Wireless.

It’s no surprise, really. Analysts and fans have been predicting since the iPhone was first launched in 2007 that the phone will someday land on Verizon store shelves, to no avail. [SIGNUP]

So when Technically Philly spoke to Verizon Wireless regional president Mario Turco a few weeks before yesterday’s announcement, the iPhone issue wasn’t even on the docket. It seemed a tired conversation. Yet, as the call was wrapping up, a Verizon public relations rep reminded us that, yes, it was still very much on the docket for Big Red.

“We definitely talk to Apple about if there’s something that can happen between both companies,” Turco told us. “This is one man’s opinion here. What better application out there than the Verizon wireless network,” he said, playing off the iPhone’s iconic ‘There’s an app for that” ad slogan.

Could Verizon begin offering the iPhone to customers? Only time—and the end of AT&T’s top secret iPhone exclusivity agreement with Apple—will tell.

Why then, is Verizon giving the green light to regional executive staff to keep that conversation alive?

Public relations, for sure. It’s good press for the carrier, which realizes that the phone is, after all, sought after. But then, too, there’s the possibility that the hardware will end up on the wireless carrier. And that could be a major win.

Since 2000, the company says it has invested $1.5 billion in network capacity, buildout and infrastructure in the Philadelphia market. That kind of investment is what makes Verizon top dog in consumer reviews.

But for now, does it matter? Even with Android outpacing iPhone sales, and Verizon ahead of that wave with its prominent Droid marketing campaigns, another brand just means more options for customers, the company says.

“Whatever the experience is, I think there’s something in there for everybody,” Turco said of its options, which include BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Android, Symbian and lesser known platforms. All it lacks, of course, is an option for those young, hip iPhone-toters.

But we’ll see. It could happen. According to Verizon Wireless Public Relations Manager Sheldon Jones, whom we reached out to for comment after the iPhone announcement, chatter is only increasing around Apple’s gem launching with Verizon.

And you can bet your app that we’ll keep hearing about the possibility of it happening, whether or not it does. — Brian James Kirk

UPDATE: Verizon Wireless Public Relations Manager Sheldon Jones contacted Technically Philly to make clear that the carrier has no immediate plans to make available the iPhone on the Verizon Wireless network and that the company talks to many vendors about the possibility of working together. “We have no immediate plans of offering [the iPhone] and we do talk to all of the companies. We’re very confident in the line-up we have, a porfolio which is bigger and better than anyone out there,” he said.

TECHNICALLY PHILLY is a news site that covers technology in the region. The site covers startups, investment, government policy, Comcast, social media and all that is Philadelphia tech. Read more at technicallyphilly.com.