It seems that even though a Verizon iPhone hasn't been officially announced, the mobile carrier may already be eying options to keep the Apple gadget away from anyone else. Kaufman Bros analyst Shaw Wu posits that Verizon would be willing to pay Apple a whole truckload of money to keep it away from the gates of T-Mobile and Sprint. Of course, it can't pull it away from AT&T, which will continue to sell the iPhone but not on an exclusive basis.
Wu said Verizon "could be more willing to give in to Apple's terms and thus its iPhone economics are likely to remain favorable."
No one has any clue how much AT&T originally paid Apple to carry the iPhone exclusively, back when it first launched a few years ago. It no doubt got a deal, though, because Apple was a fresh player in the mobile game and actually needed a mobile carrier's help to get its name out there.
Now, it's the mobile carriers that need Apple.
AT&T is already bracing for the impact that losing its hold on the iPhone will have. Meanwhile, the others are doing what they can to get Apple's eye.
In other words, Apple has the upper hand in the situation. The most recent quarter ended with 14.1 million iPhones shipped in the marketplace.
AT&T is hoping its current exclusivity with Blackberry to offer the newest model, the Torch, may help offset the losses it will face with the iPhone, however Wu said it may be unlikely to really change anything. Verizon "does not believe [the new Blackberry OS] is likely to have a material impact."
Wu says he predicts 62 million iPhones to be shipped in 2011. 62 million. Think about that for a minute. Most of those will still be linked to AT&T, just for the longevity factor, but 8-12 million could be attributed to Verizon which would give that carrier a much-needed boost.